l.v. linna writes stuff

a dumping ground for personal, political, critical, and maybe even artistic writing endeavours

So, it's New Year's Day, 2021. A prime, if blasé, time for some reflection and resolutions. Fair warning, this is a bit of a ramble.

For obvious reasons that do not need to be reiterated, 2020 has been an awful year, even if it started off well. In those first two and half months or so, I had a lot of hope and optimism for new opportunities, where I thought I could really improve upon myself. And I think, to at least a small extent, I did improve for the first couple months. I was abroad, meeting strangers here and there, and having a rather nice time. I had some money to spare, and I was spending a lot of time outdoors in nature. But as everyone should know by now, the world had other plans from about March onward, and those good times abruptly came to an end. And though things since then have not been absolutely terrible, they are not getting better, especially considering how things are going presently. As such, 2021 probably won't be any better for quite some time, if it is much better at all. If things do get better in this new year, it probably will not be until September or so, and the subsequent final quarter of the year. Maybe by then the vaccine can be rolled out on a wide scale, and some real sense of normalcy can resume. In the meantime, I'm at least thankful that it has not been worse for me and mine.

While this may be the situation, I think 2020, with its ample time for reflection, has taught me at least one thing. Even if an embarrassingly large portion of that down time was spent wallowing. Though it may be my own naivety, I do think I have a better sense of how I can make this next year better because of all that time I had on my hands. If I want to be better, I need to pursue a more focused, ascetic lifestyle. I need to select some essential interests to hone, and try my best to not give into laziness and vice. However, even with this notion identified, I fear that in order to work on overcoming my longstanding issues, I am stuck between a rock and a hard place.

On one hand, I deal with a constant level of stress and anxiety, that becomes especially acute during certain periods of my studies. Work has brought it on in the past as well, but employment is uncertain right now and not a major focus for the time being. Anyway, as a result of this stress and anxiety, I partake in alcohol, video games, cannabis, pornography, and other distractions to “relax,” or more rather, turn my mind off. Partaking in these activities messes with me in a lot of ways. Without getting into too much detail, my stress is only temporarily abated and my anxieties only are heightened, and I end up feeling increasingly depressed. The net result is ultimately negative. As a result, a vicious positive feedback loop emerges, where in order to cope, I increasingly return to vice. As far as I can tell, I do not have sufficient, sober coping mechanisms. I need to change this, if I am to live a more ascetic lifestyle. Moderation and conscious use of time is going to be my goal going forward, even if the hurdles are great.

However, on the other hand, there are strong driving forces to partake in some of these vices, independent of my stressors and their subsequent anxieties. Much of my physical social interaction hinges on the consumption of alcohol, as it is the social lubricant, I suppose. Alternatively, my digital social interactions often centre around the playing of video games, and those are similarly pernicious to alcohol in my experience. Both are similarly mind numbing and intoxicating in their own rights. Both make me want cannabis to enhance their respective experiences. And so on. Beyond this, there is also the issue of sleep, eating, and exercise. All of those become increasingly hard to adequately pursue when I'm burnt out. And then I run out of time, and I have to stay indoors exclusively for long hours, because I've mismanaged my time and I have deadlines to meet.

As I write this, I think I have sufficiently made my problems clear for the purposes of this exercise. I could go into painstaking detail, but then I worry that this exercise will become similar to what I am trying to avoid. I think writing instead of aimless internet browsing, video game playing, and entertainment watching is more productive and encouraging for self-improvement, but I cannot just let it become another distraction. I believe I am capable of improving my self-control. I want to write more. I want to read more. I want to learn how to play chess adequately. I do not think I can simply become a teetotalling Luddite, as much as I might want to at times, and I think I can find a better balance between work, relaxation, and leisure. I do not want another year of my youth to slip by on account of me feeling sorry for myself and my situation. I'll probably never be satisfied with my progress, but goddamn it, I want to get better.

If you're reading this, maybe you have felt similar things. Maybe you think I'm writing this in a manic burst. You're might be right. If you expected a list of resolutions with cleanly cut goals and deadlines, you are mistaken. I'm not good with those. They only serve to hurt more if I fall off the wagon, at least in my experience. These few paragraphs are more so about me, as egotistical as that is. I needed to write this as a reminder for myself at least. I think sharing it will make it more real to me, even if no one reads it.

I hope to write again on here soon. This is not my first time trying to write at the beginning of a new year.