I had a couple of birthdays a few weeks ago. I turned 26 at the end of September, and the next day was my 1-year anniversary with my company. Happy Birthdays to me.
I’ve been feeling this coming on for a few weeks, the nagging, the itch to come back to this blog, to start this again. I have a habit of trying to develop myself in cycles, of feeling motivation and going really hard at everything for a few weeks, but then the motivation drops and the difficulty increases and I get busy and I give up and about six months later I do it all over again. Or five months in this case.
I’d love to say that things will be different this time, that I really have my head in the game, that I’ll be consistent and rise to glory and all those things…but I don’t know that. 25 was a year that passed with few celebrations or personal developments. At 26 I’m now consistently stressed, haven’t put nearly as much effort into the things I care about as I claimed I would. I work a job that doesn’t make me happy very often, though admittedly I work with fantastic people. I’m fifteen pounds heavier. Some would say to get over it, that this is simply how becoming an adult works. Though I don’t believe it, I can’t doubt that it rings with a bit of truth.
If none of this sounds optimistic it’s because I’m not optimistic. I’ve been unhappy for a year (more than that, really), and it took me until recently to finally conceptualize that it’s not my job, not my relationships, not my writing I’ve been unhappy with. I’ve been unhappy with me. I’ve been disappointed in myself time and again, made mistake after mistake without feeling like I’m progressing towards being a successful writer or entrepreneur. Some of you might have known me in high school or college and thought me a bit…confident. I don’t have that confidence anymore.
In its place now is a bit of trepidation, a bit of fear, and a lot of humbleness. I’ve done everything someone is supposed to do at my age: moved out, got a quality, high-paying job, started paying off debts. And amidst that I feel like I’m backsliding. So, like the dramatic scene at the end of the action movie where the hero desperately claws for something to hang on to as he slides nearer and nearer to the cliff, I’m reformatting, changing my approach, grasping for a new mentality and dedication to power myself into a better self-image, a better position in life…to happiness, really.
When I look back on the last year I realize that, though I’m not in the place I wanted to be, I’ve learned a hell of a lot. I’ve learned how to put in crazy hours and how to stop putting in crazy hours when they become too much. I’ve learned how to be frugal and I’ve learned how to stop caring about the cash and have a good time. I’ve learned how to set concrete goals and measure progress and I’ve learned how to shut down and just let life happen around me. I’ve learned how to micro-manage and I’ve learned how to deal with letting a project grow its own wings and fly. I’ve learned how to give myself a break, and I’ve learned how to expect more of myself. Much of my growth came directly from the very job I felt was holding me back, and it’s been hard to admit that what has caused me so much grief has also given me so much. But now that I’ve done some growing in general (and hopefully some maturing), it’s time to realize that simply growing isn’t enough. I have to decide how to grow, where to grow, and when to make the decisions that will make me the man I’ll be for the rest of my life.
A couple nights ago I came up with a system to make myself accountable for the way I spend time, to allow myself some flexibility in the way I strengthen myself, but also to make sure I focus on the skillset that I want to grow, the strengths that I am proud of. I’ll be setting concrete goals, rewarding my successes and penalizing my failures. I’m going to push myself consistently, set realistic goals, and understand that with struggle comes success. I’m keeping the details under wraps right now, but I’m hoping to shape myself into someone I know again.
Sometimes I look in the mirror and I don’t know who I’m looking at. I feel like I don’t know I am anymore, I don’t know how I got here. But if I tripped and stumbled into this life, then I’m damned lucky. I have an amazing family, spectacular friends, a stable, challenging job, and, if I take advantage of the opportunities in front of me, the whole damned world at my fingertips. Because even though I might not be optimistic, even though I might not feel a ton of confidence in myself, I still see potential. I still feel hope. But I need a change of approach. I need a focus.
This blog will undergo a change of format at the next post. This won’t just be me venting about my life (though I can’t guarantee that won’t seep in occasionally). HTML will go back to its original purpose: taking back life. Whether it’s taking life back from indecision, mediocrity, stagnation, depression, addiction, whatever the matter is….it’s YOUR LIFE. It’s MY LIFE. Either we can do or be done, change or be changed. Sit back and let someone take charge of your life, or stand up and say, “Hey, that’s my life.”
I’ll be taking it back now.