Life — Intentionally Choosing Wrong

I don’t need to inform you that sometimes life leaves you with a decision between two awful outcomes. A lot of handling responsibility is having the wisdom to be able to handle the ramifications of bad choices, and knowing what to do in a lose-lose scenario shows an intelligence and maturity that, I would suppose, only comes with age and experience.

One of the largest sources of stress and discomfort in my life these past few years has been because I’ve stood on the crossroads of a scenario like this. It’s a long story, but its one I’ve told to several people, seeking the advice and wisdom of other people.

It’s sometimes impossible to say, really. Which direction do you go when your heart and mind point in opposite directions? You lose yourself thinking about everything with only logic in mind, because one needs to fulfill the soul’s desires to be happy.

I’ve spent countless hours and sleepless nights trying to solve this problem, but the more thought I put into it, the more I start to think that it doesn’t even matter what I choose.

When you’re caught in a position like mine, one that defies all sense, it seems that everything you could possibly do will be the wrong choice to make. But when there is no right choice, it’s all one can do to mitigate the damage as much as possible.

If you had asked me a few months or even years ago, I’d have told you that “following the heart” is a terrible idea. Sometimes it simply yearns for things it can’t have, or to hold on to things that should be let go. But now I think differently.

If pain and sorrow will come regardless of which path you take, I’m starting to think of it this way. Years to come, we will always be stronger due to the trials we have been through in the past. So if one goes through more suffering, one should come out stronger (and by extension wiser) than one who did not.

So by this logic, it can’t be all bad to follow the heart, choosing the result that will lead to the most potential pain. Not only will life be a little bit easier for the time being, but if and when that huge hurdle of pain and misery does come, it will thicken the skin more than anything else would have. To put it simply, humans are all saiyans from Dragonball Z when it comes to emotions: every time they recover from a life-threatening injury, their power is multiplied unimaginably.

They say time heals all wounds. I’m not quite certain of that. But what I am certain of is the fact that with time, comes wisdom. I believe that with where I am now, everything will turn out right in the end, (almost) regardless of what I do now, because if I make bad decisions I’ll learn from them, and if I don’t, I’ll find success the easy way. But who am I kidding? Even at its calmest life isn’t easy sailing. So why not follow your heart to mitigate the pain?

Life — Limits (245)

Operating in a constant state of high priority like I’ve been doing the past several weeks tends to have some ill effects. I know a few people that thrive on always being busy, but it’s not the state I’m personally comfortable in. The thing that I’ve gotten out of these past few weeks is that it doesn’t matter what other people can do. You should only ever focus on what you are specifically capable of, and only push yourself when you’re comfortable in that environment, taking a few liberties with what “comfortable” means in this circumstance.

For example, there’s a lot going on with me right now. I have school, improv, and writing, which are all high priorities that can each take a lot of time out of my days, depending on the specific scenarios. It’s lead to me being at moderate levels of stress even when I do have time to relax, because I’m spending that relaxing time trying to catch up on things, whether those things are a high priority or video games. This weekend, I have to write a short story I haven’t started, go to a play, host a D&D game, and watch a movie. Somewhere in between all those things I have to find about ten hours finishing Moby Dick, which I need done by Tuesday. I also need to work on my Halloween costume and beyond that I have plans to start doing things that aren’t even on my local radar. (To name one, I want to start recording narrations of all these blog posts so people can listen to them instead.)

But in the end, it’s not actually the work load that matters, it’s the individual’s capability to handle it. I can handle mine, though I feel like I’m carrying a ton of bricks over thin ice and a feather more will make me fall under.

That said, I’ve always wondered what would happen if I had to carry that extra feather. You never really know how you’ll react to a situation until it happens, you know? Well, recently I got an inkling of an answer. I saw that feather, and while I managed to evade it, in that instant I knew what would happen: I would simply drop everything that could be dropped. It’s too late in the school year to let drop my classes, but pretty much everything else in my life is voluntary responsibility. I could stop doing things like this at any given point. In fact, the only reason I write this blog is to improve myself.

So, if I had dropped everything, I’m not sure where I’d be right now. But I’ve come to the conclusion that while it would be relieving at first, it would end up filling me with regret at my incompetence. It would have meant I wasn’t strong enough to carry on, and while that isn’t always a bad thing necessarily, it’s always nice to prove to yourself you can overcome some things.

The main takeaway here is to find that line. Figure out where your limit is, and get as close as you comfortably can without stepping over. I’m too close to my limit right now, but maybe for some people (like a few friends of mine), I have comparatively larger amounts of free time. It’s all about what you can handle. Ands you get better at handling things, your limit will probably get higher.

Me — Little, Panicky Things

One of the most frustrating feelings in the world is the sense of weary neglect you get when you’ve been super busy and all you want to do is relax or sleep, but you have something big needs doing first. It’s a perpetuating cycle, and I think it contributes to a lot of procrastination. You’re super tired so the last thing you want to do is continue working, so you don’t. Then suddenly you have no time at all left to do that thing and you panic to do a barely adequate job.

I’m feeling that a lot right now. I don’t typically procrastinate. I don’t keep my plate clean, so to speak, but I don’t wait till the last minute, either. I know what procrastination is like, of course. During high school you have so much time you just keep putting it off until that isn’t an option. That hasn’t been the case with me lately. I’ve had big things that need doing, but I have small things that are more urgent all the time. I’ve been out doing something nearly every waking moment this past week (not necessarily “job” stuff, but things that nonetheless needed doing), so it’s really difficult to think “Now that I have time to sit down and write that essay, I should get to it.” Instead, my mind says “Oh, goodness, breathing room? Sit down. Take a breath. Listen to some chill music and probably take a nap. You’ve earned it.”

I’m not super stressed, which I think is the strangest takeaway from this experience. I’ve had no free time, but I’m just tired. The worst part is, this particular instance isn’t even a huge deal. It’s not a twenty minute presentation due next week, it’s a stupid six page essay. I write half that every single day for crying out loud. I know if I really sat down and put my mind to it it probably wouldn’t take me three hours. But it’s hard to want to devote myself to it. I just can’t get my mind to flip that switch and turn on “Work” mode when I’m already so overextended.

Things like this confirm my theory that I’m due for some sort of big change. Lately really small things have been setting me into an irritable mood. The inflection in somebody’s voice might piss me off, which works me up for the next hour, even if they didn’t mean anything by it. If small and stupid things like this are working me up, it means something bigger is really going on, and its no secret: I simply have too much on my plate. The problem is that all of them are high priorities. I can’t put down school, improv, or writing. The one least attached to who I am as a person is school, and I’m literally invested in taking classes full time for the two semesters. I’m not sure how much longer I can go on like this! I need to relax but nothing is relaxing anymore. Even relaxing is stressful because it means I’m putting off something important!

I guess I am a little stressed. This post wasn’t meant to transition into panic as much as it did. Carry on. Nothing to see here.

Life — Taking Advice

Advice is a sort of shaky bridge to cross. It’s not easy to either give or take because of its nature of being lost in translation. People give advice based on experience, but one person’s experience never translates perfectly to another’s. Not all advice we are given is advice we should take. The proof of this lies in the fact that I advise you not to take all advice. It can hurt your brain if you think about it too hard. I know mine started to hurt, at least.

The funny thing about this post is that its an advice post. I of course realize that saying some advice is bad kind of ruins my credibility to some degree, but that’s okay. I’d say some of the best advice out there involves helping people break away from needing it in the first place. Being independent and coming to conclusions on one’s own is an inportant skill we should all have.

Anyways, the best thing I can tell you about receiving advice is that it’s always important to look at where that person is coming from. Advice is always meant to be helpful, of course, but the more diverse the life style, the less likely their advice will be accurately translated to yours. When I ask people for advice, I always look for people that have either been in similar situations, or think similarly to me. Yes, a contrasting opinion can help, but in my experience this contrast can often lead to different conclusions about how to handle situations.

So, whenever somebody tries to help you, remember that they are trying to help. If you don’t like the advice, or it requires you to do something you don’t want to for whatever reason, maybe it’s not advice you should take. Keep in mind that their experience is valuable, and you should never just throw it away, but hold to your own truths and values as a first priority.

Basically, follow your heart regardless of what people tell you, but set yourself a wide path. Let people guide you down that path and watch your step when people tell you to, but don’t become a different person and go down the wrong path just because somebody convinced you it was the best (or only) way to handle what you’re going through. Find the way that you want to do things, and take the advice that helps you do those things better.

To quote Emerson’s Self-Reliance, “No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature. Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it.”

It’s often said that the best villains in any story think that they are the heroes, and it’s true, even in real life. We cannot hold to beliefs of society that good and evil equate to white and black. I do believe breaking the law can be justifiable given dire circumstances. The key thing here is to always do what you believe is right. Just make sure that you really, fully and truly believe that what you do is right.

Mistakes are unavoidable. We can only do our best, so when you’re caught between two bad situations, take the more favorable of the two even if everyone is against you. You must be true to yourself before you can learn who you really are and what you were really meant to be.

Me — My Ship is Sinking.

Two days ago I talked about procrastination. Well, on a not unrelated note here I am wanting to go to bed but writing instead simply because I forgot to do this earlier. One of these days I am going to actually forget and be quite upset. Anyways, I’m already quite tired, so today, by necessity, is going to be a little nonsensical. Sorry!

Remember how I said I was super stressed? It’s sort of weird. I don’t know how to handle it. It seems to be worst when I am either doing something important while ignoring something else important (obviously I can’t focus on two things at once), or while I’m not doing anything. If I’m at school I’ll be worrying about how I’m not learning anything and I’ll be anxious to get to the next class just so the day can be over so I can do homework. Conversely, when I’m laying in bed, I’ll be worried about how much I still have left to do. Obviously it shouldn’t get in the way of sleep, though, but when I am in one of those fits of overwhelming stress I do admit I can lose sleep. There’s no winning here.

The worst part is I’ve decided everything I’m doing is simply too important to put down. I can’t put down school. I can’t put down my improv troupe (I’m responsible for it, and letting go of it would mean losing too much of who I’ve become). I can’t stop writing. But all of those things together are too much! So what do I do?

Why, plan to be the dungeon master of two simultaneous Dungeons & Dragons campaigns of course. What’s worse, one of them is destined to fail from the start. It’ll have a party of seven-ish, half of whom have never played D&D before. Why do I do this to myself?

I mean, mostly I love being a creator, and DM’ing allows for that to happen. I can create my own world and story and have people experience it at the same time. Win-win! So it is sort of a way to enjoy myself. The only problem with it is that being a dungeon master is a lot of work. Not to mention that if I’ll be handling so many people, it’s going to be nigh impossible for people not to get bored “waiting their turn” (though I don’t plan on having oodles of combat).

The worst part is, this is only going to get worse. I’m not sure the podcast is ever going to happen, so I don’t think I have to worry about that. But with October comes new trials. Registration for the Spring semester is in October (meaning I’ll have to decide how large a work load I want to take), Halloween is in October, and I’ve done almost no shopping for my costume pieces. Not to mention we have at least one improv show that month.

Will Kollin survive the trials of Committing-Suicide-Due-to-the-Sheer-Amount-of-Responsibilities? Stay tuned!

Life — Procrastination

One of the biggest problems I think people individually have (at least one of the big problems that contribute heavily to stress) is procrastination. It’s no surprise that it affects most people to some degree, even if it is usually only attributed to students.

I think the reason so many people are afflicted by it is simply because its easy. While its true that some people have day planners where they write everything they have to do in it, they’re in the minority. It’s much more simple to try to keep track of everything in one’s own head, so it’s no surprise that more people don’t do it. It’s actually a lot of work to make sure everything is always so organized. Truth be told, though I love organization and keep track of things on my phone’s calendar, very rarely do I add one-time events that I need to remember (for example, I’ll just try to remember to talk to Person X today about Z).

The problem with that is that those events are the things we need to be writing down! I don’t need to remember that I have class at this specific time every week, because I do it every week. It’s actually really important to write down those nonrecurring events!

Another reason I personally procrastinate is because when the busiest time of my week ends (around Thursday), all I want to do is relax. I tell myself I’ve earned a break, so I don’t start picking up my homework in earnest until around Saturday. But that means I have to have a week’s worth of things handled (homework, blog, etc), by Monday, and it can get pretty stressful!

I don’t know how bad your procrastination is, so let me ask you: Have you ever tried getting everything handled early? What would happen when you get home from school on Friday and decide to work on that project that’s due Monday immediately? Sure, you don’t have any free time Friday, but you get to go to bed that night with a clear conscience and wake up knowing that your time is yours, and you can do anything you want with it.

When you’re procrastinating, relaxation doesn’t come as sweet as it could. You’re sitting there reading, watching TV, whatever, justifying your laziness by saying you’ll have time to do it. Let me clue you in here: You’re not doing yourself any favors. You’re just making excuses for yourself. Getting through the week isn’t “reward” enough to allow for as much relaxation as you’re probably giving yourself. You’re rewarding yourself for something you haven’t done, and I bet it doesn’t feel that great.

So, work hard. I know you had a long day, but if you let yourself rest now you’ll lose it. Push yourself. Your weekend/free time will feel so much better if you get everything done now.

Procrastination is indulging the child in you that hates work. Don’t give it enough control to allow for that. You wouldn’t allow your son to play without doing his homework. Why would you do that to yourself?

Me — Giving Advice

I’m not the best at helping people. I’m not an emotional person, and I often analyze everything too much. If somebody gets in an argument and needs somebody to talk to, often I’ll ask what happened and consider how the argument could have been avoided on either end rather than how I should help the person in front of me right then. It sucks, because it makes it very difficult to be of any use in the moment.

I never know what to say or do ever. It gets pretty difficult, really, because when somebody needs my help everything I do either makes it worse or deflects the problem elsewhere. It gets to a point where I just want to tell people to inform me of exactly what they want of me whenever they come to me with their problems. I’m intuitive, sure, but not in an emotional sense. If somebody calls me just to rant, then it needs to be stated outright. Otherwise I’ll be looking for a solution to your problem because that’s how I solve my own problems.

What it comes down to is the fact that I have no friends or experience with this sort of thing, so it’s a vicious cycle. I don’t know how to help because I don’t do it a whole lot and I don’t have experience, which means people don’t look to me for help.

The worst part is that I don’t know how my words and actions are ever perceived (since we can only see through our own eyes), so the only way I can practice is through communication. In general, I don’t know if I’m seen as a conceited know-it-all (which, let’s be honest, isn’t too far off), or if I present myself as a kind friend, (which is what I intend to be).

I wish I could use these moments of emotional instability as a means to get closer to people. I want people to think they can trust and rely on me. I say it all the time, but that offer is never tested, and I wonder why that is. It could be that I’m referring to somebody being distraught as an “emotional instability”, but I know that if I can just say the right thing and cheer them up, I can improve my social standing and they’ll ask me for help in the future.

I think one big problem with this is that I find a lot of problems people come up to me with as ludicrous. Many of my initial reactions to hearing about issues people have relate to “This wouldn’t be a problem if you didn’t make it one,” or “This isn’t as big a deal as you would have me believe.” Now, obviously I can’t say things like that, because things like that would definitely worsen the scenario. The most difficult thing is putting away these reactions and approaching the issue with the standpoint that this is an emotional problem that needs to be handled. I can analyze what needs to be done, but I can’t factor emotion into it, so most often I think my resolutions get lost in translation.

If you have this issue, just know that you’re not alone. We aren’t all cut out to be therapists. If you know somebody with this issue, remember that they are trying to help. They are just terrible at helping.

Life — Handling Responsibility (210)

The first eighteen years of our lives (depending on where you live or what you do) is spent in formalized education. From eight am to three pm we’re at school for a fourth of our entire lives, so when you graduate high school you’re suddenly hit with the realization that your life is finally yours.

It’s sort of ridiculous how little freedom I had back then as compared to now. If you’re taking difficult classes and extra curricular things, your high school career can suddenly be your entire life: getting up to go to school and going to bed in the early hours of the morning after you finish all your homework. I never had that much homework, thankfully, but it’s insane how America prohibits child labor laws yet allows for that to happen. Teenagers are starting to become actual people, after all, so what good is taking their right to live away?

If you’re like me, high school graduation results in a huge exhalation of relief that its all over, followed by an often unanswered question: What’s next? It can be easy to lay down in bed and fall asleep forever now that you finally have free will, but it’s important to remember that your life is yours to take it where you want it to go, not to sit there and watch it go.

As for me, I’ve clogged up my life with a lot of responsibilities I’ve given myself. I think everybody should be spending at least twenty hours a week doing something productive, be it school, work, or creating stuff (drawing, writing, painting, whatever). College is obviously a big hole that people jump into after high school (more than necessary, I would argue), but that isn’t the only option. College isn’t for everyone, and putting everyone in college actually worsens a lot of problems our society already has when a lot of jobs don’t require higher education.

One interesting thing I’ve noticed is that nobody really tells you about the change in responsibility from child to adult. When you’re in high school, you go to class, you get home, you do your homework, and that’s it. But after that, you have to be the one to get a job. You have to handle your own transportation, and if you’re not responsible enough to handle that job, you don’t get to keep it. Suddenly it isn’t “Micky’s party is this weekend, we need to go shopping for a present”, but instead is “Are you free this weekend? It’s Micky’s birthday” and if you’re busy, you’re busy.

blame-gameIt feels great to say no to things, but again, this is what my experience was. Many of my friends still have to go to Micky’s party even if they planned on doing homework that day, just because their parents told them to. But whatever the case may be, independence is a valuable thing. If you have it, learn to use it wisely and cherish it. If you haven’t found it yet, look for ways to strengthen it. It’s a lot harder for your parents to force you to go to Micky’s party if you have work that day. It’s not like they’ll call in sick for you. At least I certainly hope they won’t.