It’s the final week before my life moves across a continent and I feel woefully unprepared.
Packing: I have barely started. I always think I don’t have that much stuff I want to keep but then it always ends up being more than I planned for. But now I am leaving a day later than originally planned so that gives me a bit more wiggle room. Praise.
Pre-rotation readings: I have re-done my reading schedule three times but am still super behind. Maybe I just need to give myself a “cram” day. Oh crap. I can’t be getting behind already. School hasn’t even started! Ugh. Help.
Pre-orientation forms: I also need to dedicate a good chunk of time to figuring out these things and making sure I’ve printed everything out that I need to.
Post-moving adulting things: managing the driver’s license transfer; making sure I have gas, water, electricity, and internet; setting up a local bank account.
There are also so many notebooks and papers on my small desk right now that I can’t even find the thoughts I put down when I was going through an earlier phase of moving-anxiety. Help help help. And I am in need of a shower and a regular sleep schedule.
Well, I have spent too much time going through this same narrative of “I’m hopelessly behind on this schedule I have set for myself and I will never amount to anything because I always procrastinate and do things at the last minute even though I want to change what is wrong with me.” ~It’s not too late for us to make a change (from the eponymous song by ONE OK ROCK).
As part of this, I’m going to apply the wisdom gleaned from one of my favorite Ask Polly responses (seriously, several of those articles felt like they were going to the heart of all of my insecurities):
Q: “Why am I so lazy?”
A: ” I do want you to notice how deeply and profoundly you’ve made messiness and procrastination part of your identity…But do you see how conflicted you are about these habits, even though you choose to view them as part of your core identity?…As long as you’re deeply conflicted about your choices and the ways you’ve chosen to identify yourself, you have a problem.”
In order to rectify this problem, Polly recommends doing some hard work to unpack the stories we’ve been telling ourselves based on the feedback we have gotten from the outside world and dig deep in order to find what we actually want, instead of what we think we want.
You aren’t lazy. Lose that one first. You’re afraid. You’re afraid of investing your full self in anything, only to be disappointed. You’re afraid to show your heart. You’re afraid of trying to change your habits only to disappoint yourself.
This is so TRUUUUUUUEE. Is this what therapy feels like? This is amazing I must have more of it until I have solved all of my insecurities. But back to the task at hand. Unpacking.
I am, and have always been, afraid of appearing vulnerable and authentic. I find myself holding back my excited feelings about many things, especially if I’m in the presence (online or IRL!) of others who don’t love something as much as I do. I never wanted to be the one person who *cared* the most about a particular TV show, project, or band in a group of people. If there was someone else who shared my enthusiasm, that would have been fine, since we could team up against the others who clearly hadn’t experienced the life-changing magic of <insert piece of media>. But if it was just me? Pffft, I am slapping on my “cool” face and straightjacketing my emotions faster than you can say “cool story, br–” (credit to Brené Brown for that metaphor about coolness). Heck, I doubt even my closest friends actually know what my favorite band is. It’s because their music is too close to my heart, to my soul, to my broken insecure self for anyone else to see.
Where does procrastination fit in with this? Sometimes I’m afraid I won’t been seen as being interested enough. This will be especially dangerous in medical school. The comparison game is real and mental health-threatening, and if I don’t have a strong self-concept there’s going to be lots of anxiety and fear and nervousness and potentially bad outcomes. What if I’m not spending enough hours per day thinking about medical concepts? Or my research? Does that make me lesser? I am working less hard than so-and-so, does that mean I will never amount to anything in my career? Why should I care? We are all going to be dead in a few decades anyway. <enters nihilistic slump>
Notice how that preceding paragraph was mainly fueled by my perceptions of how others would interpret my level of work, no matter what it was. There is always going to be someone working longer hours than me. Someone more efficient at studying than me. Someone for whom pathways and computational concepts and whatnot will come seemingly easier than me. But I don’t know what other people’s backgrounds are. And it’s useless to use what I see on the outermost surface to judge my own work against theirs.
So what I do I really want? What kind of person do I really want to be? Here’s what life could look like after I start figuring some of this stuff out:
I used to believe that I was a slacker. I thought it was efficient and cool to always do the bare minimum. I saw people who worked really hard and kept a consistent schedule and showered regularly as extremely uncool and rigid. I was cooler than that! I was impulsive and awesome! All of these assessments were about as sophisticated as a squirrel’s guess that the moon is on white-hot fire. And now here I am, writing this column two weeks in advance while I walk four miles on my treadmill desk. I got out of bed and did this, on vacation, because I know that I love to keep a schedule that starts with writing and walking, every goddamn day, even when I don’t have to, even when no one minds if I sleep late. THIS IS WHAT MAKES ME HAPPY. But it took a lot of questioning and experimenting and breaking through some deep shame to figure that out.
Preach it, Polly! But I still haven’t answered my own question? What makes me happy? The crux of the actionable steps suggested by Polly are really: try new things and pay attention to how it makes you feel.
Well, I know one thing that makes me really happy, even though I hate doing it: waking up early. I’ve been battling the old voices in my mind that tell me I’m a staunch night owl, that early birds are some weird type of human that I could never hope to emulate, that I even had a late wake schedule as a child and thus I am doomed for early waking, etc. etc.
But let’s try it out. People change over time. Ignore those nasty voices for a while. I can always come back to them later.
Things that are making me happy
I should also include this as a regular segment in order to remind myself that my negative interpretation of the world is not the only one that exists.
Because I’ve got moving on the mind, today’s thing is figure skater Jason Brown’s latest video. (I still don’t know how to embed videos) It makes my heart absolutely sing with joy when I see other prominent figures (heh…hee…) having similar life milestones as me and while I may not be moving to a different country, my distance travelled by car will be similar. And another one trains with Orser! Hahaha the #TCCEMPIRE is real. My fave skaters are all going to be Team Orser this next season squee!! This is the only national alliance I care about. On a tangent, it was really weird to watch the Pyeongchang Olympics through NBC for the figure skating portions since I care about so many non-US skaters but of course publicly available NBC will only focus on the US ones…but back to packing!