Progress Takes Effort, Which Kinda Sucks

The longer that 2022 goes on, the more I see how my mood on any given day is effected by more factors than I could ever account for. I’ve been working to get into better habits this year and while I’ve made some progress, I don’t feel like my average mood has gotten any better. I feel more productive for sure, but I also feel more tired. No matter what I do, I seem to always wind up trading one thing for something else and making almost no net change to how I’m feeling. For instance, I recently changed my wake-up playlist to music that engenders positive feelings in me, but now I’m having a more difficult time feeling awake and alert because the old songs did an incredibly job of rousing me as the playlist played through. I’m getting out of bed later than usual, but I do feel a bit better in the mornings.

Everything right now is a trade. I’m either trading in some of my day-to-day productivity for action on something I feel is important but doesn’t involve any of my personal projects (currently, that’s activism and attempts to involve myself in causes fighting to undo the injustices wrought by the highest court in the judicial branch of he US government), or I’m taking items off my to-do list so I can hopefully avoid burning myself out any more than I already am. I’m still not sleeping well, thanks to a small re-lapse in difficult nights, and that’s compounding all of my problems. Not to mention we’ve hit the time of year where my daily walks leave me feeling very sweaty and gross but apparently the temperature isn’t high enough for my workplace’s AC to function normally. Or maybe it just broke, which raises all kinds of other stress given that the only pandemic mitigation my employer seems to be employing beyond encouragement to get the vaccine and the ability to get the vaccine on-site from the health and safety staff (which is pretty great, not gonna lie) is use fairly heavy air circulation to reduce the risks of airborne spread. It’s incredibly difficult to tell whether the AC is broken or just set too high and there are far too many periods of it being inactive for either answer to provide any sort of solace or closure.

I’ve tried to balance that out by investing in myself (my recent vacation, rounding up my work hours so I’ve got more money in the bank, keeping treats around my apartment in moderation, making sure I have things to do that interest me, and working to maintain a hefty degree of creative engagement in my daily life), but almost all of that requires effort that I don’t really have without letting something go. I do my best to keep it all up, but living alone in a pandemic is just a lot of work with very little reward these days. Sure, I’ve made it this long without catching COVID (so far as I can tell, anyway), but that’s less of a reward and more of an absence of a negative factor. Every time I think about changing my isolation, through dating or finding some friends to live with as roommates, I realize that taking any steps in those directions would involve a great deal of emotional and mental energy I’m not sure I have to spare these days.

I know that we’re in an endurance test right now. I’ve said as much multiple times in the past month or two. I know I need to just keep going, keep making my small daily progress on everything, and eventually something will complete or pay off. Then I’ll have more bandwidth or fewer sources of stress or something. I’ll have one thing I didn’t, be it a novel to shop around with publishers or agents, a source of blog posts to lean on for weeks I need to rest, or just enough money to start making serious progress on my debts (which will probably be the first one to start rolling in, at the price of the constant effort required to maintain it since it involves doing overtime). It just takes more work.

If I had the energy, I could step up my daily efforts to get more done, but gone are the days when I could spend an entire evening writing. I’m too burned out and exhausted for that. I can’t even push myself to do more work than I’m doing. my 9.5 to 10 hours a day is my absolute limit unless I want to go back to not working out and eating take-out constantly. Which I don’t. I felt like crap doing that. I may be exhausted all the time now, but I feel less like a blob and more like a person these days and I genuinely value that, especially with all the identity stuff I’ve got going on right now. It makes it a lot easier to confront how I feel about myself in a healthy manner if I’m putting in the effort to be more healthy and seeing the slow but undeniable results.

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