Two months into the mission, how am I doing?
Back in mid April, whilst still struggling with depression and a bit of an existential crisis, I made a plan. This year for me was going to be about human connection and relationships.
In past years i’ve devoted the majority of my time to creative and project work (work which I am proud of having done), and my social and love lives tended to take a back seat. But now, ‘on the wrong side of 35’, I wasn’t where I wanted to be, I didn’t have the support network that I wanted to have, and change was necessary.
I had one advantage — I was feeling very extroverted, unlike in past years where I was definitely more introverted. So going out and socializing 5 or 6 days in a week is something I can not only handle now, but I can thrive on it. I still get tired at times, but usually I’m tired when I’m not around people.
One specific goal I’d had for this mission was to take photos when I spent time with people IRL (in real life), to remember the moment. I’ve forgotten a couple of times but remembered most.
Here are a few highlights (with identities hidden as I didn’t want to try to get permission from everyone to show their faces on my blog):
As you can see, lots of smiles! Certainly on my part, and I promise you I wasn’t the only one.
It sure looks like things are going well, doesn’t it? And yes, it’s true, I didn’t necessarily expect things to be so fruitful so fast, but part of that was changing my priorities, and part of that was just making the change at an opportune time (the beginning of summer in a big city).
I have recently tapped into two new online communities that have also begun to do in-person hangs, I’ve reconnected with some older friends, and I am even considering organizing an event myself.
I’m very fortunate that it’s summer where I live. It has been safer and easier to meet up in person with people and take pictures (unmasked). I’m not sure what to expect once winter rolls back around. I’ll be honest, I’m a bit anxious.
The second half of this mission will be testing whether the connections and supports I’ve built will hold up through the cold dark months when I will need them most. Right now is kind of the best it can be, all considered. We’re at the peak of the social and event riches.
Lots of memories, certainly. Smiles, laughs, new connections. Touching other people’s lives and having mine touched as well.
I have new experiences, or I get to re-experience things I’ve enjoyed before. New friendships, new peers, and other possibilities.
It does make me happy to have a growing folder on my computer of pictures showing that I can live a life rich with people who care about me and enjoy my company, who will look forward to seeing me again. It’s not ‘too late’, even if it felt like it before, and still in some senses, does.
I can have this life, and still make some time for creative and project work, I just have to be more mindful about the balance.
Previously, my ‘balance’ had been about 90% creative project work, and 10% social/connections. Now it has flipped essentially the opposite way. It’s feeling good for the time being, and maybe after so many years of neglecting my social life it’s time to prioritize it for a while. The great thing is that I can keep focusing on it as long as I want.
The undeniable ‘reality’ of the situation is that no matter whether I live a given day to it’s fullest (ie spend really great quality time with other humans) or spend it in bed by myself watching netflix, there is only one June 1st, 2022, or July 15th, or Aug 31st, and they will end, and that’s it, over, done, gone.
Some would say that’s what makes it special. You can never recreate a day exactly as the one before, so each is a unique memory to cherish.
And I see that point of view. And I love that optimism. I wish I could simply accept that without any caveats, but my brain currently won’t let me.
I am a lot more optimistic than I used to be, and a proactive person, but there is still that nagging voice in my head, intent on reminding me I’m late to the game. That voice drives me a lot. It makes it harder for me to live in the present, and so that has also been an aspect of this mission. To fight back against that voice.
I’m not that old, but I’m old enough to feel a bit of pressure of being on the verge of ‘aging out’ of some things. But I can’t go back, I can only start now and keep going. Of course age is just a number, and plenty of people continue to live thriving social, connected lives well past their 30s.
I tend to feel more comfortable around people who are 10 years younger than me, than people who are 10 years older. That’s not because I’m immature, it’s because I’m a late bloomer. Also, 28 and 48 are very different life stages and I am somewhat awkwardly sandwiched in between.
So while part of my brain says ‘you’re getting too old, stop pretending’, I’m doing my best to tell that part to STFU because I’m definitely less lonely now and that was also one of my reasons for making the change. I’m living the life I want to live right now, as much as I can, and I’m pleased with the results.
By any metric it’s going well, and the only ‘negatives’ are basically cultural narratives ingrained in my head that are trying to discourage me and bring me down.
If I don’t let those narratives stop me, then I win.
So after two months (May and June), I’m giving myself a healthy A-. There is still some room for improvement, some micro goals that I want to work towards, but for having initiated this change pretty much overnight, even my career coach told me she was impressed with my progress already.
Stay tuned for a possible update to this blog in a couple more months!