The Commitment

Over the years, I’ve talked fairly extensively on here (and with other people) about my future plans. All those times, I’d offer several different options I was thinking about, and I would make assurances that I would figure it out soon. Except I never did, and the years went on like this. Empty promises driven by a lack of motivation, a lack of confidence, and honestly a deeply ingrained sense of entitlement and laziness.

I was a bit of a narcissist, I’ve realized. I’ve always considered myself to be special. Not quite in the sense that I had a huge ego or absolutely loved myself. Actually much the opposite. I saw myself as incapable. Someone that needed and deserved help. I saw the misfortune in my life as being directly targeted at me, and I believed I deserved something better. Only ever putting in effort at the moments where it became necessary for me to do so.

It’s something that’s somewhat hard to admit openly despite having an idea of it for some time. Narcissists, after all, are commonly seen as assholes that only care about themselves. That’s not who I am or who I want to be. I didn’t want to admit to it out of fear of what others would think, but most of all, it was out of fear of what I would become if I admitted it.

Therapists in the past have told me that I’m too hard on myself. I think a lot of the reason for that comes from trying hard to deny or avoid negative thoughts rather than doing something about them. A lot of reason comes from me not letting go of the idea of “I’m different from everyone” and falling into an endless spiral of helplessness. Thus instead of a negative thought coming up once or twice, it would come up multiple times and increase in magnitude rather than be processed with in a healthy way.

What finally got me to admit this was reading the book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson. I mentioned it in my previous post, but I got a free trial to Kindle Unlimited for my impulse buy of a Kindle Scribe (probably one of my better impulse buys) and I started reading it mostly to test out the device. I liked the first couple pages that I ended up reading the rest of the book and the sequel book Everything Is F*cked: A Book About Hope too.

While I’d love to talk about all the things these two books talked about, I’m not confident I could distill them in a way that did it justice (I’m even thinking about reading them again in a couple months) I’ll just limit it to some of the observations I had while reading.

The first book isn’t as crass as it might seem, although it’s still somewhat crass. At first the idea of “not giving a fuck” probably brings up an image of being apathetic, but the book explains it more as fucks being a limited resource. There’s only so much emotional energy you have for things, and when you spread yourself thin is where you start giving priority to things that don’t matter and stop giving priority to things that don’t.

The book cuts a bit deep to inform you you’re not special, but then nobody else is either. It makes a strong argument that seeing yourself as special or trying to limit pain is what’s actually making you miserable in the long run.

If I could put it into simple words, the book isn’t there to build you up or cut you down, it’s there to cut away the delusions (positive and negative) to give you an accurate picture of what you are.

The second book goes more into explaining why we end up like that. It talks about two sides of the brain, emotional and thinking, and how a lot of problems stem from the thinking brain not getting through effectively to the emotional brain (Partly because we think it’s the thinking brain that’s driving our actions, when it’s always the emotional)

Like I said, I can’t do it justice. Not until I at least read it again. All you need to know right now though is that both books have contributed a great deal to the stuff I’ll be doing from here on out. Which is primarily what I’ve come to this post to tell you about.

A good number of my current problems revolve around my usage of the internet. I spent way too much time on it as a kid, and even now, with that become somewhat normalized given smart devices, I give it too much of my attention. If I’m not checking Twitter, my email, Discord, reddit, shopping sites, etc, I’m either sleeping, pooping, or the internet has gone out.

If you’ve followed my past updates, you know that I’ve recognized this for a while now. You’ll also know that I’ve made several plans before to limit or even stop my usage of my internet. And, even if I didn’t tell you the results of those plans, you could probably gather those have always eventually failed.

I tried to justify it by saying that it’s hard when the modern world expects us to be connected. I tried to justify it with my loneliness. Though what it really was was just me trying to find a distraction from other things. It was my thinking brain letting my emotional brain indulge in fluff instead of more difficult tasks. It was preferring the instant gratification to the delayed.

Even as I write this post, I feel myself clicking over to gmail or Twitter or Youtube. I know it’s just making this longer to complete. I know that what I find over there isn’t going to be worth it. Yet to convince the impulsive part of my brain is a fruitless effort, and to try and force it through sheer willpower only gets me so far.

What’s the answer then? Sadly, I don’t think there is a simple one. I think it’s going to take both trying to convince my emotional brain as well as exhibiting pure willpower. I think it’s going to require me taking on new priorities and focusing more on them. I think it’s going to require changes to myself unlike any I’ve ever had before. I think it’s going to take more than a simple promise. I think it’s going to take a true commitment.

Much as I don’t want to think about the future or avoid choosing a path, I think that’s a big part of what is ultimately reinforcing these bad habits. I’ve said before, albeit somewhat flippantly, that I’d figure things out when I turn 40 (for reasons I’m not comfortable publicly sharing) Though I realize without working up to it, I’m not going to be ready when I hit 40 unless I do anything. I’m not going to be ready unless I make a true commitment.

You can probably see where I’m going with this. I’m basically writing this post now to say “It’s time to make a commitment.

For a period of three months, starting in May and ending in August, I’m going to be deleting my social media accounts and keeping off the computer as much as possible. Only in cases where I’m reading a Japanese visual novel (part of my method of learning Japanese) or doing Wanikani reviews shall I be on it. I will still check email and take care of certain financial obligations via tablet, although I also will stop myself from buying anything new I stumble across. I will also use tablet sometimes to look up guides for games I’m stuck with.

I don’t want to leave anyone with the impression that all I’ll be doing is playing vns and games though. I’ve got a few Japanese textbooks and I’m going to be sitting down with them more seriously to do studying. My hope is that by the end of three months I will have worked through most and acquired quite a lot of skill via my studies via vns (I’m also hoping to do some listening practice too)

I’ve got a few things I’d like to try. I’ve got some art materials, and some guides, and I’m thinking of possible starting to draw a little everyday. Do it for three months and see where I get to by the end of it. I also have perler beads, which I want to start learning how to do.

Another thing, that I’ve been in the process of doing, is I want to sell more of my material possessions so that I’m down to what I absolutely can’t stand to be rid of It’s been taking a while, but I intend to keep doing it (The extra money plus not having so much crap is nice) This has had the added effect of me helping around my house a bit more

I also got a new electric bike about a week ago. I haven’t had much chances to ride (due to tripping over the family dog and taking a nasty fall a couple days ago) but I hope to get out and ride on the beautiful days. Anything that gets me out of the house.

I also hope to visit friends more frequently. I want to rekindle some our relationship and let them know they’re important to me.

I do realize that a lot of this sounds like stuff I’ve said before. Let me make a more definitive commitment. I’ll be required to keep a journal logging what I do. This contents of which will be transcribed each week and posted on here starting Wed May 8th.

My hope is that by forcing myself to write it each day, I’ll be more inclined to make sure I do something, and less inclined to faff about like I often do. If I don’t, I want whoever’s out there reading this to feel free to ride my ass about it. Because I want this to be a commitment that sticks

By the end of these three months I intend to have an answer of what the next step will be. Keep tuned for my next update on May 8th