Goals for 2019

Write More

This should be easier, but life has a way of keeping me busy and distracted from doing many of the things I enjoy. I don’t like to write on a schedule but maybe that’s something I need to accept if I want to accomplish my goals.

Make More

I have been woodworking now for a little over a year as a hobby and it has given me a chance to work with my hands and mind at the same time, something I don’t get to do enough of at my job. I’m still learning a lot and figuring out what I enjoy making, so hopefully, that process will continue into next year and beyond.

Do Less

There are so many different things to do and experience in life, it’s hard to not feel like we’re constantly missing out on hundreds, if not thousands, of things at the same time. Each year feels like it’s going by faster, which makes sense when you realize each new year makes up a continually smaller percentage of your total life. Time is the only resource we can’t buy, so it forces us to focus on what’s important.

I just want to focus on what matters and get the most out of life in the short time I have.

A good explanation of depression

This was posted by someone on Twitter as a thread (link to original tweet) on June 18, 2018, so I’m saving it here so it’s easier for me to find in the future and in case it gets deleted.

It is the most relatable explanation of depression I have read.

(TW: Suicidal ideation and depression) How do I even talk about this? I have no idea, but here goes, because maybe it’ll help. Deciding not to reach out? It starts small, and it gets big faster than you realize.

This is what it has looked like for me: There’s the idea, and it’s a noise that won’t go away. And you know you’re supposed to tell someone about the noise, but if you tell them, they’ll get scared, and it’s just a noise, so whatever. Ignore it.

But also the noise is all you can hear or think about some days, and talking to people and doing normal things feels like trying to shout over it. So you stop talking to people so much. You go quiet. You just try to get through the day.

And then suddenly it’s months later and people are asking where you’ve been and why they haven’t heard from you and you don’t know how to say “well see there’s been this NOISE” because then they’ll be all worried, or worse, they’ll be mad at you.

After all, you tell yourself, your noise probably isn’t as bad as other people’s noise, and why can’t you just deal with the noise? It’s just a fucking NOISE, and you think: oh man, everyone is probably so mad at me that I went quiet while the noise was so loud.

(Reality: Your noise is enough noise to count as loud. And people probably aren’t mad at you for going quiet; they love you and they miss you, but they will understand more than you think.)

So anyway you’ve got this NOISE and you’ve got all these people who you feel guilty for neglecting and you’ve got so much work to do and it feels like too much and the noise keeps getting louder, until your entire life is a project that revolves around ignoring the noise.

By this point, you don’t even know how you’d begin to tell anyone. You don’t want them to be scared, and you also don’t want them to know how LOUD the NOISE is. And you still have that little whisper under the noise that says it’s not loud enough to count.

And then, one day, you’re talking to someone, trying to look like a person who has never heard the noise. And they say “hey, this be way out of line, but. If you ever hear a Noise, I want you to know that I love you and you’re not alone.”

You confess that you hear the Noise. You hear it all the time. You heard it just the other day. And they tell you that they hear the Noise, too.

You feel all the things that you’re scared other people will feel. You feel worried, and you want to help, and you feel bad that you didn’t know. All of that comes from this place where you love that other person and you want them to be okay and you want them to STAY.

The thing is, the way you feel about other people who hear the Noise? It’s a good way to feel. It’s love and understanding and care. You deserve to have people feel that way about you.

The Noise has a lot of lies in it, and one of them is that if you’re hearing the Noise then you don’t deserve to be seen and loved and encouraged to Stay. But you do deserve those things. Even if the Noise won’t let you believe that, it’s still true.

Getting checked in on can be stressful and scary for a lot of reasons, but if the reason it’s stressful is because OH GOD NO PEOPLE ARE CARING ABOUT YOU? You deserve to be cared about. It’s okay to let yourself have that.

For the past eight months or so, I’ve had a dedicated group of friends who check in on me if they haven’t heard from me in a while, or if my tone starts getting distant, or if their spider-sense tingles. I’m not exaggerating when I say I’m here because of them.

And there are people who are pissed at me because I haven’t been paying them enough attention, or because they don’t think the Noise is important. But those people don’t really matter in the scope of my life. The people who cut through the noise? They matter.

You matter. If the Noise tells you that you don’t? That’s incorrect. You matter. You deserve to have people care about you. That’s the truest thing in the world. Stay. Stay. Stay.

by Sarah Gailey

The Way the World Works

I’ve been thinking about why I expect to succeed in something I put a lot of time and energy into, and have realized a few things.

I learned from a young age that with hard work and maybe a little bit of luck (right place, right time kind of stuff), you (meaning me obviously) WILL be successful. If you’re not, it’s because you need to work harder or longer, or both. I viewed success as the predetermined outcome of an equation that could be performed.

So many books have been written by successful people, and have been read by so many more people, so why isn’t everyone successful?

Because that’s not how the world works.

Working harder, smarter, or being more talented doesn’t guarantee anything. No one actually knows a proven method for success because it doesn’t exist. In reality, priviledge and luck play a much larger factor than most of us realize. Where we are born, our economic status, the color of our skin, gender, and many other factors give some of us a major headstart and even put some people right before the “finish line” of success.

A few people will also get lucky and rise up from being underpriviledged, but not everyone can succeed that way. So many success stories begin with someone having parents who worked multiple jobs to support their children, and that’s great for the children who learn a good work ethic and are able to benefit from that opportunity. But what about the parents? Is their success determined or measured by the success of their offspring?

I guess what I’m learning is that having goals and measuring progress can be useful tools. But ultimately, how we gauge success (or whether or not something is “worth doing”) can only be measured internally by our own level of satisfaction in doing that thing.

Does that thing make us happy? If it does, is that what makes it worth doing? Is happiness the ultimate goal? What about money, fame, power, legacy, or influence? How do we decide what’s important?

How do we know what will make us happy or ultimately satisfied, when we’re old enough to look back at our lives and wonder if anything we did matters? This is the question that drives me. I’ll let you know the answer if blogs are still a thing in 50 years.

Thirty Five Years

People always ask if you feel older on your birthday. My grandmother used to ask us if we felt a year older, to which I would always respond, “no.”

This year, however, I would have answered differently.

I am still not totally comfortable with the idea of “celebrating” my birthday or having people wish me a happy birthday. For one, I don’t feel like I did anything unique or special by continuing to exist another 365 days. While I consider every day a gift that should be appreciated, getting older doesn’t feel like an accomplishment. I also don’t like the attention the spotlight of my birthday inescapably shines on me.

The day itself isn’t much different from any other day. I go to work, come home to my family, then go to bed to do it again tomorrow. The biggest difference is having to blow out candles. Most of the people I’ll interact with won’t even know it’s my birthday, which is fine by me.

So not knowing what else to do, I’ll use this time to reflect back on the last year:

There have been some great “firsts” this year:

  • My first full year with 4 kids!
  • My first full year at my new job after spending 10 years at my last one
  • My first nephew on my side of the family was born (as well as another niece!)

But there have been some not-so-great things as well:

  • My first (and hopefully last) kidney stone which required multiple surgeries
  • Other recent health issues relating to sleep apnea
  • My mom’s declining health and need for full-time professional care

One major highlight is a new woodworking hobby, and I am looking forward to building some of the projects on my list next year. People have already started asking me to build things for them which is exciting!

I’ll be celebrating 13 years of marriage in less than a week and am incredibly thankful to have found such an amazing person to share my life with and raise our children.

As I look back on the last year, I can’t help but feel grateful for so many things. Even though the last 365 days has had its share of challenges, I am learning to focus on the positive things and not worry as much about things I can’t control.

My goals for next year are to continue to work on improving my health, being a better husband and father, learning and trying new things, and appreciating everyone and everything I have.