Me — Building Progress by Months

So, one thing I’ve decided to do—perhaps even the defining thing—is pace myself by monthly goals. In the past, I’ve done things like “Read 50 books in a year” or even just “travel more” or “be more social”. The problem with those goals is that the first is easy to procrastinate and set yourself up for failure, and the second type is vague enough to be neglected and, eventually, forgotten. The challenge, supposedly, is to be strict enough to push yourself, but not to go over the deep end and burn yourself out without making any true progress.

What I’m doing this year solves both of those issues, and I think it’s fairly obvious what I mean by monthly goals. Specifically, I have the goal that I’m working on for this month, and that goal is intended to lead into the next step, which will be February’s goal. After that, I have ideas, but I’m not going to worry about what March’s goal will be until February hits.

Right now, in January, all I’m doing is forcing myself to really consider my dietary intake and get into the habit of looking at what I’m eating and tracking how I feel (weight, energy levels, etc). I’m also trying to build a routine of getting up at 5am to work out for 30-60 minutes (or else get some other form of productivity done), but since that isn’t the primary goal, I’m not beating myself up when I don’t accomplish it. That, as it turns out, is February’s goal, and I’m just trying to get a head start because I feel I’m doing a great job at eating more and better food as well as cataloging my progress. Right now I still feel that eating basically nothing is the “norm”, so the habit definitely isn’t there yet, but I’ve made good progress.

February will be all about building an actual workout routine instead of doing what I can when I feel like it, because the latter part of that statement means I don’t do a whole lot. My long term goal is to get to a point where nobody comments about my appearance at all. (Because society says it’s okay to call people skinny). So, in light of that, I’m going to try to gain anywhere between 30-50 pounds, which obviously won’t be easy with my habit of skipping lunch because it’s the cheapest option. I won’t try to achieve that in February. Just like this month, the goal is more about building routines and sticking to them than achieving deadlines and hitting targets.

I also want to start painting minis regularly, spending more time with my brothers, and recording audiobooks. Those are goals for future months. The current me has no idea how to fit any of that into the schedule, as I’m freaking out a bit struggling to get normal stuff done. Hopefully, built routines will allow me to have more energy and willpower to accomplish more with my days.

But I’d be foolish to try to do all of this at once, and I suggest and encourage you to build incremental goals like I’m doing. It’s working out great so far.

 

Me — January ’20 Monthly Update

This one will be a bit different because, in addition to the normal monthly update, I’m going to introduce the changes I’m making to my life to make 2020 the best year it can be. Let’s waste no time.

The Monthly Update Topic Order™: blog, writing plans, work, school, D&D, video games, reading/listening, and other things.

I will tentatively be changing the blog schedule to twice a week: Wednesdays and Sundays. I say tentatively because I may come to realize I’m asking too much of myself—only time will tell. I will also introduce a self imposed rule that I cannot publish two blog posts in a row that cover the same subject (referring to “Me”, “Review”, “Stories”, etc). This will force me to think of a new post if the only thing that’s on my mind is work, or me being lonely, or whatever it happens to be. I feel like there’s no point in having a blog if I feel like the only thing I have to say is “life sucks” in different ways once a week. However, this is another reason I might not be able to do twice a week. We’ll see.

Writing has been going well. The passion project has been making concrete plans on the road to Patreon, and so far I am very excited and optimistic with our trajectory. The second draft of the Lisa Stenton screenplay has been done for a while now, and I have no plans to edit it at the moment. I’m shelving it for now because putting more time into it at my current state is not helpful. Meanwhile my second short story anthology is still on my to-do list, but it is unfortunately getting pushed back by my 2020 resolutions.

Work has been alright. Not much to say about it, though I have been spending the last several days reorganizing and moving all the tables and machines around the shop. I even made a 1:12 scale model so that I can plan ahead and look at different layouts before I commit to anything.

I am done with school! I should be getting my degrees soon, but honestly, I’m just happy to be done, because now I have more time to focus on me. (If only that simply meant “more free time”…) As such, I will be removing “school” off the Monthly Update Topic Order™!

Friday is Session One of my brother’s new adventure, in which I will be debuting my new Drow Shadow Monk. He is DMing this campaign in my world, using characters that have, as of yet, only been mentioned by name. He claims to have an overarching plot that will solidify historic points in history, and I am both terrified and excited to see what he means. After he’s done (he only plans for this to be a couple of months), I will once again don the mantle of DM to tell the second half of the Knights of Fire’s story! I don’t expect that to start until June, to be honest, but only time will tell.

I have had little time for video games. As of right now, I am exclusively playing World of Warcraft, with a single Heroes of the Storm or Magic: The Gathering match if I only have 20-40 minutes to spare for something. Lately I’ve been turning on autopilot and farming gold, because I’ve been too tired to do anything else.

I haven’t been reading or listening to anything lately, but that’s mostly because Critical Role is still on it’s holiday break. I’m hyped to start watching the stream again this Thursday!

Alright: 2020 changes. It boils down to one thing that manifests in two ways. And for once, I’m very basic with my resolution.

I’m going to try harder to give myself an appearance I am proud of.

That is to say, I’m eating food, for one. These past several months I’ve been taking a nap at work for lunch because it was cheaper than buying/preparing food, but I realize that’s not healthy. So, for as much as it hurts my wallet, I’ve been buying things like meal bars and protein shakes and stocking up my bag when I go to work. I also got an app to track what I’m eating every day and what I should be eating to put on weight. I’d like to put on 20-30 pounds, and I think I need to be actively working out in order to achieve that result in a way I like. I don’t have the money for a gym membership and my house is full of people, so being self conscious makes working out hard, but I’m fitting it in where I can.

Lastly, I’ve been framing my actions in terms of what the “Ideal Kollin” would do, and I’m trying as best as my willpower will allow me to achieve it. I’m also keeping track of everything I do and how I feel, even more than I did last year. If I felt like I was productive, I mark that down. If I took a nap, I mark it. I’m tracking my weight every morning and when I wake up. I’m hoping to sync all of these stats with each other once I have some data so that I can maybe come to some conclusions, but it will be a couple months before I can start to do things like that.

So far, 2020 has yielded exactly 0 depressive episodes, and though not every day has been stellar, I’m content with how things are going so far.

I hope you’re all having similar experiences, and despite the upcoming struggles, you and I will overcome them.

 

 

 

2019 — A Year in Review

2019 took a lot out of me. I would say that overall, the year kind of sucked. I spent a good portion of it depressed to varying degrees, but in the end, we made it all the way through, didn’t we?

My next blog post will be about looking ahead, but I thought it prudent to look back first. I’m making the choice to point out the positive changes here, as it does nothing to dwell on the bad stuff. I’m also going to try to keep it chronological, but there will be some stuff moved around for organization’s sake.

  • Exactly one year ago, my brothers and I embarked on our first long-term D&D campaign: the Knights of Fire, and last Friday was our last session before we put those characters away for a little while to explore other parts of the world we’re creating. I DM’d for eight months straight, and once we tell the second half of this adventure, I plan on seeing it through to the end. I have plans. Plans within plans even.
  • In March, I started tracking my happiness and writing daily notes on what I did and how I feel. As you can imagine, I learned a lot about myself. And I’m expanding my channels of self-diagnosis in the new year because of it. More on that later.
  • I’ve been traveling more this year! In January the siblings and I flew to Chicago and drove back home. That was amazing and awful in all the ways you can imagine. Then, in October, I spent a whole week in the Washington/Oregon area. That in particular changed both short and long term life plans. This year alone, I’ve been to four new major cities.
  • Over the course of this year I wrote a full screenplay, and even gave it a complete pass for a full second draft. I hate it, unfortunately, and it should never see the light of day, but I’m proud it exists at all.
  • The passion project I’ve been working on made some huge bounds in 2019, and we’re continuing to build our world and our backlog of content to show. I’m hoping that we can go public with the project some time this year. Getting it ready for monetization is one of my main goals for 2020.
  • I also finished my last semester of college. I’ve yet to receive my degrees (and part of me suspects they’ll neglect to give them to me for stupid reasons), but I do not plan on continuing school, as I need room to grow and spending my time in school is hindering me at this point. It costs money, is time consuming, and my trajectory doesn’t align with that path.
  • In August, WoW: Classic launched, and over the course of a few months I’ve met some of the most amazing people in that guild, all of whom I am proud to call my friends. I cannot wait for the journeys we’ll go on together.
  • About two weeks ago now, I started wearing contacts. There’s more to this, but for now, suffice to say that it’s a small change that has big implications.
  • Around the same time, I was handed the keys to my first car. It’s an amazing leap forward, as it is probably only the second thing I have ever owned that I can refer to as “exclusively” mine. That said, the car payments are not fun and money is tighter than ever. Let’s hope that changes in the next couple of months.
  • And lastly, but most important by far, is that I found the strength to ask for help on a day I was really struggling. That person doesn’t know what the phone call was really about, and hopefully they never do, but I thank them for their presence all the same.

 

Overall, I spent a lot of 2019 in a depression, and I felt like nobody heard my calls for help. Even the ones that did kept on walking like they didn’t want to be held responsible, and I don’t blame them. For better or for worse, this taught me that nobody can be trusted, and that I can’t rely on anyone to make me feel better when I’m down. I have to do it myself.

Somehow, I’ve been kicking productivity into high gear the last few days of 2019 to prep my 2020. I’m all but making an outline for my plans, but most importantly, I have a checklist. A checklist that I know will kill me inside if I don’t fill in with as many check marks as possible. So that in and of itself should be ample motivation.

See you in the 20’s.

Alright. So I don’t like doing this, but I’m going to take the next two weeks off. I don’t really have anything to talk about other than my plans to organize and set up for 2020, and I think I would much rather reveal what I did rather than promise what I will do. I have lots on my to-do list (10 major things to get done outside of the normal stuff), and between that stuff, sleep, and my blog, well, I need to make my priorities clear here.

Rest assured I am doing much better than the last several weeks, and hope to be doing great come January.

Life — 2020 Changes

I’ll probably do a more articulated post along these lines next month, but I’m creating a primordial gameplan for how I’m going to turn my life around next year. I have all the thread, I just need to weave everything together.

Mostly, the idea is I need to spend more time loving and less time dwelling in apathy. This primarily is pointed towards me, but it needs to be projected onto others as well. The less I do things “just because” and more because “I want to”, the better I will feel (I hope).

This comes from two philosophies squished together. One I made up as one of the major themes of the Lisa Stenton screenplay, and another I read online. The online quote could be summarized as follows.

“Stop telling yourself what you should do. Instead tell yourself how you feel when you do something. The word ‘should’ implicates you, doesn’t inspire action, and perpetuates guild. Instead of saying ‘I should go to the gym’, say ‘I like how I feel after I go to the gym’.”

I’ve been using this philosophy in regards to waking up early, and it has helped a lot. The quote that I made up is very similar, but not exactly the same.

When faced with a crossroads, ask yourself what your ideal version of yourself would do in that situation. Not the perfect you that has never struggled or the pure you that can do no wrong. The you that is doing the best they can with the resources they have available. What would they do? Try to do what that ideal you would do, and if you can’t, get as close as possible. The better those strides, the closer you will be to achieving your ideal you.

I’m tired of looking at myself in the mirror or seeing pictures of myself and seeing somebody I don’t like. For the longest time I’ve been playing the game just to get by, and this year, I almost lost everything because of my carelessness.

It’s tough for me, because my ideal Kollin is extroverted. He loves hanging out with people and makes everyone around him hum with excitement. He makes everyone feel loved and respected and never fails to improve somebody’s day. I’ve met people like that, and I want to emulate them. But I can’t. The actual Kollin is so irrevocably introverted that I am often too polite to tell somebody I need to pee if they won’t stop talking.

But I think recognizing the changes I want to be making is the first step to being somebody different. Somebody that I can respect. I may be pretty intuitive and nice, but those aren’t traits I fought for, they just happened. For as great as I thought I was because of them, I no longer feel like I have anything I’ve truly had to work for.

I’ve been trying to embody these thoughts now, but for certain I plan for them to be actionable by the time the new year hits. Because my current biggest fear is falling back into the pit of depression October and November sucked me into. I’m not out of it yet, but I’m no longer digging myself deeper.

Me — December ’19 Monthly Update

So. I’ll just say it. As far as my mental health goes, October and November 2019 put me in the worst state I’ve ever been in. I experienced lots of emotions I didn’t know I was capable of, and, well, it was rough. Only two people have any idea how bad it got, and not even they know the true extent. Luckily now, nobody has to know.

I felt like I was actively drowning and that in my flailing to grab anything—anyone—I would merely drag them down with me. I almost lost a very important battle before I even realized I was at war. I learned some things, but most terrifying of all was that it came and went with no specific warning or trigger, and with that knowledge comes the fear that it could strike again. I think the worst is over, but since I don’t know how it happened, I also don’t know what I can do to prevent it in the future. Either way I’m glad it’s behind me. I just wanted to let you know why I was so vacant last month. I’m still in recovery.

And so, the Monthly Update Topic Order™: blog, writing plans, work, school, D&D, video games, reading/listening, and other things.

I’m still going to do my best to update once a month. I have some story ideas and some blog posts I’d like to share, which doesn’t happen a whole lot. Maybe next year I’ll have more to talk about, but if that doesn’t happen, I’m actually going to take the blog off the monthly updates, as the cadence of once a week has suited me well for several months now.

I’m still chugging away at the same writing projects. My Lisa Stenton screenplay has finished a preliminary second draft (though I still need to make a few passes to “finish” it as a full draft), and I’m probably going to put that on the shelf soon. I still don’t really like it, even with all the changes I’ve made from the first draft. There’s something about the world of Lisa Stenton that doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t like the magic system (or lack thereof) and how the supernatural ties to it. It’s the only thing that has ever held me back from writing more of that story, and the only reason this screenplay kind of works is because it has very little actual magic.

Other than that, the second anthology is probably not going to be published until the beginning of next year at this rate. With all that’s happened, I feel like I’ve lost a month and a half of writing time, but it is what it is.

Work has been fine. I’m not going to share details, but we’ve actually had several strong months in a row, as far as sales go, which is increasing morale and making the whole atmosphere a lot easier to bear.

Not much to say about school, but I only have a few classes left before I finish… maybe forever. That hadn’t occurred to me until I just wrote that. These next couple class sessions might be the last time I’m in that environment period. At least for a long while. Huh. By this time next month I will hopefully be sitting pretty on two AA degrees.

D&D has been going great. We’re almost closing what I’m calling Chapter Three of the Knights of Fire campaign. (The only one of five that I am not the DM for.) We’ll be taking a break from that for a couple of months to play in another short campaign before we resume with this story and, by extension, my role as dungeon master. I’ve already got the juices flowing as to How Chapter Four will start and what the main story beats will be.

I’ve been devoting the vast majority of my time playing WoW: Classic still, and let me tell you, in the last month, our guild has become a family. I can’t put it into words in a concise manner, but… I love the feeling that I’m part of a team and that people are talking about me when I’m not around. That’s part of my goal for regaining the sanity I lost in October and November. I’m planting the seeds that will make me feel like I’m important to people. I wouldn’t say I feel like I’m an essential part of the crew, but… I hope I will be in time.

Not much to say about listening. I’m keeping pace with Critical Role as well as I can, and that’s about it.

Not much else to say.

I tried to think of some interesting story or poem that reflects how I’m feeling right now. Last week I managed to do that, a bit, and I do have stories in my head… But some way, somehow, they’re not ready to be told. And I think it’s important to remember that sometimes, pain simply does not translate into art. Sometimes it’s just pain.

I need to… choose my words carefully here. I need to be both open with myself and what I’m going through without giving too much away and creating consequences for the things I say. Right now, that’s a fine line. Maybe there’s no overlap at all.

Last week, for seemingly no reason at all, was one of the hardest weeks I’ve gone through in a long time. Perhaps the hardest. All other periods of grief and struggle were knowable, and I faced them all knowing that those storms would pass.

But last week, I experienced a new emotion. That feeling scared me, and yet it drew me in. All I can be sure of is that, though I’m not sad per se, my mental health is very likely at the lowest point it has ever been in my entire life.

Depression is a difficult thing. I thought I was depressed in high school, and maybe I was, but I think part of it was me wanting to feel as sad as everyone else was (well, one person) so that I could feel a real emotional connection for once.

I made a post about a month or two ago talking about how I don’t feel loved and that praise is the closest thing I can receive to affection. I’ve recently discovered that this is pretty much because “Words of Affirmation” is the lowest on the bar of love languages for me. It’s so easy for me to get people to tell me they love me, or that I’m smart, or funny, you name it. It’s practically trivial, which makes words mean nothing to me.

Oh, the irony…

I’m being pulled down, and, I think it’s safe to say I’m actively drowning. If you had asked me a couple months ago about my mental state, I would have told you I was one bad day from a mental breakdown. Dropping all my classes, quitting my job, and starting an impromptu roadtrip with me, myself, and I. But now… I don’t even care to do that anymore. I don’t need a bad day to trigger anything, because for me, as I’m living right now, every day is a bad day. Even the good ones.

I know I need help, but I am not willing to put hundreds of dollars a month away to seek it. And I’m not willing to go to friends or family because I will only hear the same words I always hear, and I can’t bear to have another meaningless conversation that makes me sink even deeper. My instinct is to reach out to new people, but I’ve done that in the past. Not only does it not help, but it’s not fair to them and not healthy to me or our relationship.

Part of me hopes nobody reads this. I’m only posting it here I have nothing else to say on this blog, and I want to try to keep posting every Tuesday despite it all. I know how much it probably hurts to hear if you are friends or family. I would have put this at the top, but we all know how well “Don’t read this” would have worked.

I don’t know how to end this post. I guess I’ll do it like this.