For What It’s Worth

During last night’s reflection, I had a hard time focusing. I spent almost an hour trying to clear my mind and start meditating, but I never quite made it. My roommates were being noisy (which is fine. That’s what excited people do), it was uncomfortably warm in my room, and I was exhausted. Every time I tried to relax and let my mind clear, some random thought would show up and bring a bunch of its friends along. Normally, that’s what I’m looking for, but this was before I could clear my mind so it was all about stuff I’d read that day or the games I’d been playing earlier that evening or the books I was planning to start reading this weekend. None of which is conducive to untangling the knots of my mind.

I took a break to get ready for bed because it was late and taking a bigger break from trying to meditate is better than fruitlessly trying again. A chance to reset, do some mundane tasks, and hopefully give the AC a chance to cool down my room without me in it. While I was preparing for bed, I caught myself feel slightly upset with myself about how the night had gone. Sure, I enjoyed playing video games with my roommate, but the game was less fun than usual because we spent a lot of time doing the same thing over and over again to unlock these quest item things we were given. It was frustrated to see how much work it would take to finish the quest and not to know if it was actually worth it.

I never ate before sitting down to play, so I ate my dinner at 10pm and spent more time than I planned eating and playing a handheld game, so I wound up spending an hour of what should have been my reflection time eating and playing a game. Throw in the general feelings of frustrations and anticipatory stress I’ve got from how busy my next two months are going to be and the fact that my phone call with my girlfriend was nothing but planning out the next few weekends. All together, it left me with a sort of general dissatisfaction that is only possible to feel when everything isn’t a problem now or got you exactly what you needed, but you know it’ll be a problem later or left you with the realization that you didn’t get what you wanted and initially set out to get.

Nothing bad happened, it just wasn’t satisfying. The general dissatisfaction with everything I’d done since leaving work and the specific dissatisfaction I felt at being unable to clear my mind combined into a heavy weight that hung around me neck as I brushed my teeth. It was not pleasant. By the time I was ready for bed and once again trying to clear my mind for a last stab at meditating, the dissatisfaction and disappointment with myself had settled into my mind like a boulder covered in fly paper. It attracted all of the stray thoughts in my head and held onto them, but it was too heavy to clear away so everything got to stick around and buzz angrily in my head.

After a while, though, I realized that I was being unduly hard on myself. The day had been long, I was tired, and I was trying to sort out some plans for this up-coming weekend that were outside of my control. All I could do was ask people things and hope I could make it all work out in a positive way for myself. I’d felt sick after work (which was why I didn’t eat when I got home) and hadn’t even gotten home at my expected time because work is growing increasingly busy. Plus the whole “reflect and don’t do your normal blog posts” thing is throwing my routines out of whack and that always upsets me. I like my routines. They make it easier to control my anxiety and focus on enjoying whatever it is I’m doing.

It was interesting to realize and really think about how much of my sense of self-worth is tied to daily accomplishments. It isn’t just “am I making progress on my goals?” that’s getting me down on myself. I’m asking myself “did I make progress on my goals TODAY?” and that’s a pretty unforgiving line of questioning. In the past, a lot of my focus on making this more healthy (or at least less unhealthy) has been centered around what I define as “progress.” Doing things like considering resting up after a busy few weeks or taking the time away from working to refresh my mind by reading something new as progress instead of just the quantifiable, measurable “more words written/things done.” What I probably should be doing is working on addressing why I lose self-value when I don’t make immediate progress.

Not that I shouldn’t continue redefining “progress” while I’m at it. Doing these blog posts and meditating during what is normally my writing time is the opposite of what I’d consider progress, but it’s going to help me in the long run by making it easier for me to write. At the very least, I should have more mental energy for writing if I’m not trying to make my way through or around my current mental knot.

This whole “self-value” thought process wound up being very productive. Apparently, I value other people at a minimum level based on the fact that they are a Human and all Humans are worth a certain amount of respect because they’re Humans. However, I don’t extend this value to myself when it comes to considering my own value. I know the reasoning behind that (or lack thereof) is tied up in a lot of the issues I’m working through, but I know one of my defenses against self-destructive thoughts was to always have something that I was doing that I felt must go on. These days, I don’t need that defense any longer, but I seem pretty stuck with the instinctive need for some life-affirming task.

I used to write almost every day when I was in high school. I dropped off a bit during college, but my senior year and the year after college saw me writing so much that I’m pretty sure I wrote more during those two years than in all the rest of the years of my life put together, excluding the one that started November 1st, 2017. These past seven months of writing would put my current record-holding years to shame. I’m writing an average of 1000 words a day and I’m pretty sure I’ll pass my two-year record sometime in July. If I go add up all my words, anyway.

That’s a huge deal. It may not be my record-setting days from crunches like NaNoWriMo or previous vacations where I’d write 8000-12000 words a day, but it shows more growth and consistency than I’ve ever seen in my own writing habits. That’s worth a lot, since I know a lot of writers who struggle to be able to write this much overall, let alone write every single day. By the end of the year, I’ll have written enough words to have written the entirety of the Lord of the Rings. That’s a lot.

And, honestly, I’m a human being worth at least as much as a human being is. This isn’t about accepting myself or letting myself off the hook as much as I’d let other people off the hook, this is about valuing my thoughts, opinions, and contribution to being human as much as I value everyone else’s. If I can do that, maybe I can go to sleep early some night instead of trying to cram in as much as possible before I crash. That was another thing that came out of last night. I need more sleep. After meditating for a while on the ways I assigned value to myself, I woke up at 4am with a crick in my neck, drool on my shirt, and numb legs. It took a lot of effort to haul myself into bed for the last two hours of my night. Maybe tonight, I’ll actually go to bed early because I’ll remind myself that my value is the same as everyone else’s, even if I go to bed before I strictly NEED to.