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The Journey Within


Pierce
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@Pierce Night shifts and rotations make it harder to build a daily routine and/or sleep schedule, but what I found is that, generally speaking, sleeping a little bit less makes me feel better than sleeping a little bit more. Also, staying in bed after waking up makes me feel groggy and sleepy the whole day. I know sleep is different for everyone, I’m just saying what works for me :)

@Dannigan <3

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@Dannigan That means a heck of a lot to me. It's embarrassing to get sappy, and I don't even have the words for it, so I'll stick with this: thank you very, very much Dani.

@info-gatherer You're right. Whether I stay in bed or jump out of bed has a largely statistically significant (I'm guessing) correlation on whether I'll relapse or be productive that day. As for sleep, it's my kryptonite. Without enough (or as you point out, interestingly, too much of it) and I crumble. This provides yet one more good reason why I should safeguard my sleep schedule.

Day 1

I didn't journal yesterday because I chickened out. It started out a good day, playing frisbee with a friend I hadn't seen in months, taking a quiz for school at the library, and then getting a book out on how to draw manga. When I got home I had the urge to watch youtube on my phone. It seems silly now. I really don't know why I listened to that little voice when I knew how much it had hurt me in the past and how many other fun and productive things I could be doing. And so the rest of my day I binged on youtube and TV shows on the internet. 

That night it was very late and I looked back on my day with despair, like a Dementor sucked away all of my joy. I woke up with that feeling continuing. I didn't want to go to my clinical, and I knew that the time misused yesterday is going to greatly bite me later. I just felt a sense of doom. Like there was no hope in the world. Like my mind and body were decaying. And in that feeling of mortality, I became a little bit more free. It was as if my subconscious were recognizing that I would rather let us both go down with the ship than live with addiction, and it was begrudging getting with the program... just a little bit. So I've lied to myself more times than I can count, and have started over for almost every day since the one I first decided to quit, but I feel optimistic that I can do it. I quit gaming for a year, and while this is harder and closer to the inferno of the root of my addiction, I feel at ease. It can be done. It will be done.

So I went to my clinical. It was a very slow morning, but that's ok. I met with friends for lunch, had a fantastic time, and then came back to find that the nurses had a lot more work for me. So I did some IV's, gathered blankets and vitals, and even helped one nurse clean up feces (which is yet another reason why this experience has given me a much greater respect for nurses).

When I got home I hung out with my parents for a while, talking and eating dinner. Then I drew my first drawing from the manga book, which I'll enclose below. After that I waiting for my turn at the computer so I could type up my journal on here, so I pulled up some music on my phone and just felt like dancing. I felt so at peace that I danced until my joints were sore, almost an hour later. Midway through this experience I decided to look in the mirror. I saw that what looked like a modern day Napoleon Dynamite, looking just as corny. I started to become self-conscious and was more conservative in my movements to appear more masculine. Then a thought came to my mind, "Why do you care? No one is here, and even if they were it still wouldn't matter". And so I kept on. And I realized that there is a second important fundamental to happiness:

Yes, quit addictive and harmful habits first and foremost to be happy.          But also...         Stop caring about what others think, and find growthful activities you enjoy.

Yeah, I know, way to go captain obvious. But this discovery was more an emotional one than a logical one. There are many things we know that we emotionally don't follow. That's why we end up doing what we don't want to.

So in that vein, I really enjoyed drawing tonight. As I drew I saw tons of mistakes I was making as I went, which excited me. If I see what I can do better than I'll improve quickly. My picture looks very little like what I was copying, but I am incredibly proud of it. I've come a long way from that little kid whose art teacher thought their drawings were chicken-scratch.

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Day 2

I have another clinical tomorrow, so I tried to get a lot done today. I studied drug dose calculations in the morning, but was feeling very distracted while doing so. Urges to vegetate on the computer were coming up. So I pulled out my notebook and started on the second drawing. I built a solid frame for it, but after fixing some snags I hit early on I decided that I needed to use my time towards school work again. So I ran down to the local library. Those runs always feel amazing and remind me how much I enjoy exercise once I get started. The library closes early on the weekend and it was already fairly late in the day, so I only had an hour to enter in the patient data I obtained from last saturday. Once it started closing I ran home and then tried to finish up there. About midway through I was hitting tremendous pushback mentally. I really didn't want to do it. So my devious subconscious tried to "help" me. It suggested going on youtube to listen to music, and that seemed harmless enough after all, so I could make an exception this time. A little bit later I decided to click on a video, and after I did so I became much more self-conscious of what I was doing. After watching it I exited out of youtube and finished my work.

There is a strong temptation to start my day count over again. I'll consider it depending on how the next few days go. Still, today wasn't a bad day. It was restful and I did get some things done for school. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I wish I had done a lot more. 

I spent quite a while on this second drawing and entered into a state of flow working on it. This one was a lot more complex. It was supposed to be a fearful human, but turned out to be a terrifying gothic woman. This is due largely to the eyes, which I had a lot of trouble with. The shape of the face and it's placement on the neck could use work as well. There are quite a few other things that I see could be improved, and I have mixed feelings about the last minute background I added, but I'm proud of it overall. The details of the clothing, hair, and jewelry are great, the tears have a really cool effect, and I applied some advanced techniques like showing folds in the clothing and having a little bit of shading throughout. I'm excited about how well this is going, and am looking forward to when I can draw images without a guide. This seems like a perfect replacement for time on the internet. It's challenging, fun, and has visible progress. It even becomes social when I share it.

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Good work on the art!  And over time, you'll see your sketches evolve and change.  I remember reading old Garfield comics and it was remarkable how different the drawings were from the beginning to the later stages of the comic series.  Another that comes to mind is Mickey Mouse.  Being in that state of 'flow' is essential, I think, to creativity.  It seems like there's an ease to drawing when you're in that 'flow'.  I'm curious, did you feel like there was no concept of time when you were drawing? 

I'm looking forward to seeing more sketches! 

Edited by Dannigan
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@Dannigan It feels like I am on an IV drip of "flow" as I draw, and the bag needs to be replaced periodically when I hit snags. During times when everything runs smoothly there is no outside world, just me, the pencil, the paper, and the lines coming being generated. Then I hit hard parts where the symmetry is off or some other details looks glaringly out of sync. I'm taken out of flow as I fix these, and hit a certain amount of stress, that can be either eustress or distress depending on how easily the problem is amended, replaces the flow. Either way, the challenge of overcoming a problem with a creative solution is what makes the sense of timelessness and looking at the final product so rewarding. Take the eyes in the second picture for example. Working on the eyes to make them look more human was frustrating, but it was enjoyable to add tear pooling that took some of the focus off of them. The ruffles around the neck are another example of a problem child that turned out better than I originally intended due to some problem solving.

Day 3

I remember last semester when clinicals at the ER seemed liked a herculean task. The necessity of having to spend hundreds of hours there has made me tougher as a person and more competent as a paramedic, and I am starting to enjoy it. Today was laid back, which means few people were getting hurt on Easter. This was good news, and I used this time to catch up on my previous patient reports on my phone. I did get to work a couple of traumas at the end of the day, and it felt really good to be part of the team that saved someone's life.

I started on my second drawing, which I should finish tomorrow. I have a midterm Tuesday, so tomorrow will be interesting as far as how I do in balancing all of the work I need to get done. Paradoxically, I find I have more time when I meditate, exercise, and read, so I'll be sure to make time for them as well. Life is such a beautiful game.

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This morning I woke up early and did some sprinting up a nearby hill as my morning cardio. It felt like a great start to the day. I felt resistance to jumping straight into school work, so rather than deplete it I started working on the pen and paper game campaign I'd started a few days ago. As I worked on it I felt an urge to watch TV on the internet. I ignored it at first, but it was like an itch that needed to be scratched. Scratching it derailed my day. The only other useful thing I've done is submitted my patient care reports right before their deadline. Still haven't studied for my midterm tomorrow, or taken my other online quizzes. I plan to do both after I submit this.

It's just so depressing to think about. Part of me wants to move on so badly I'd give one of my arms in exchange to do so. But that part of me must be deceived because I cave at the slightest sign of mental anguish. I don't understand it. And it drains my self-confidence and my energy, since I see myself as a lazy addict. It's like a sick joke. Like a movie where the protagonist is being tortured for the whereabouts of his friends, and he screams for mercy and gives in at the mere sight of the torturer entering the room.

This lack of self integrity is probably the single biggest blockage to my self actualization in life. To becoming a man I can look in the mirror and respect. And before I cut all of this self-pitying out, I need to make some sort of promise. A real one. Not like the hundreds of thousands I've made in the past. One in which I show compassions to my future self by giving him the best fighting chance to succeed in life, and one in which I honor all of the hopes and efforts of my past self.

And yet... I've made all those promises in the past, so it's hard to believe this myself with this one. So if it's not a promise based on integrity, then it's an effort placed on hope. Because hope is something I can still put my money on. She is a Virtue that has never left me down. I may be too weak to beat this, but I know She can.

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Day 1

I had class again, which I can see is much needed structure in my life. Not only that, but the outside social interaction is nice as an introvert, and makes the time back home feel that much more important. We learned about hazardous materials operations today, then I took a online pharmacology quiz during the break and the pharm midterm after. I felt like I got a mediocre score, which is unfortunate because it likely prevents me from getting an A, but it doesn't bother me too much. It felt good just to be back in the saddle.

After class I took the time to go to the school computer lab to take some other quizzes. Being in a space meant for productivity made me feel more energized and ready to work. I guess this is yet another reason why I should go to the nearby library or a coffee shop on my days at home.

When I got home I finished my book on the US voting system, and then cooked a stir fry. After I type this and look at a couple of other journals I'm going to finish my patient care reports due tonight and then hit the gym. Might pick up How to Make Friends and Influence People from the library while I'm there; I've been meaning to read it for a while. Also, I haven't forgotten about my drawing. I'm looking forward to working on it more tomorrow.

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3 hours ago, Pierce said:

Day 1

I had class again, which I can see is much needed structure in my life. Not only that, but the outside social interaction is nice as an introvert, and makes the time back home feel that much more important. We learned about hazardous materials operations today, then I took a online pharmacology quiz during the break and the pharm midterm after. I felt like I got a mediocre score, which is unfortunate because it likely prevents me from getting an A, but it doesn't bother me too much. It felt good just to be back in the saddle.

After class I took the time to go to the school computer lab to take some other quizzes. Being in a space meant for productivity made me feel more energized and ready to work. I guess this is yet another reason why I should go to the nearby library or a coffee shop on my days at home.

When I got home I finished my book on the US voting system, and then cooked a stir fry. After I type this and look at a couple of other journals I'm going to finish my patient care reports due tonight and then hit the gym. Might pick up How to Make Friends and Influence People from the library while I'm there; I've been meaning to read it for a while. Also, I haven't forgotten about my drawing. I'm looking forward to working on it more tomorrow.

This is a completely different you, than yesterday, @Pierce  : )  What I noticed is how quickly you jumped back into the saddle (your focused goals), and just fell in sync with the flow of events.  It's been a while since I've attended university, and I can only imagine how much more demanding medical school is.

I think that yesterday's departure from your typical school-work days, it was probably needed?  I wonder if it's the psyche letting you know that you need a bit of a break.  A short-term mental break from the routine of school.  Because look at you now.  You're a-buzz with energy.  There's a ying-yang energy flow.  I hate sounding airy-fairy, but it's the best way I can explain it. 

You are an introvert also.  Which means you need those quiet days to recuperate.  I like the idea you had about going to a local coffee shop or library.  Seems like a perfect environment to chill out for a little while.

Edited by Dannigan
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12 hours ago, Pierce said:

Day 1

I had class again, which I can see is much needed structure in my life.

I feel you. When I started university and I went living on my own for the first time I was happy to have this freedom. I could decide whether I would go to class or not, whether I would study or not. I thought I could judge better than my university, I skipped a lot of classes because they were “boring”, “low-level” and such, and I only went to the best classes. Fast forward a couple years: I had impossible sleep schedules, I almost didn’t go to classes anymore, I spent all my days and nights watching movies or surfing gaming websites, I had no more friends because I never got out of home. It was terrible. Freedom is precious, but it is also a burden. It’s very easy to fail. Having someone telling you what to do, like respecting a class schedule and time structure decided by your university is much easier. A cowardly choice? “Freedom is too much for me”? I don’t know, but I can judge results, and freedom seldom got me anywhere.

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@Dannigan I appreciate the observation. Resilience and introspection have been my main super powers in life. And I've had other people say similar things about needing to blow off steam for a day. Maybe I need to plan my rest time better. Give specific times just to draw, read, and meet with others, and double the time it takes to get an assignment done. With less time on the computer I should have more time for those things. And as long as I'm not vegetating away in front of a screen I'm fine with relaxing. I've noticed that relapses come from trying to overtax my own willpower engine. It needs to be refueled, and I want to start providing it with quality fuel, rather than the cheap synthetic stuff.
 
And ying-yang is definitely real. Everything evens out in the end. Last year I paused my dreams of med school to begin training as a paramedic firefighter. The yang was having to give up something precious to me for a while, but the yin was finding a useful way to prepare for my return while having unique and rewarding experiences.
 
@info-gatherer Yeah, I have to agree. It's very Orwellian (think 1984): freedom is slavery, slavery is freedom. I thought I wanted freedom, but really I wanted to have a rigid schedule that suited my needs. Discipline allows us to build and follow our own schedule, but I'm not very effective at that yet. For now I'm grateful for school. And those are some interesting questions you posed. Well worth thinking about.
 
Day 2
I woke up very tired this morning, so I worked more on my drawing to start off my day in a good mood. I then went off to the library to work on a batch of patient care reports due friday, and got half of them done. It was good to get ahead on work, and I went to the gym after. I’ve been having an on-again off-again relationship with calisthenics and running, which has been more off again lately, so I decided to hit the gym hard today and lift some weights. I struggled with weights half as heavy as what I could lift a couple years ago. I also came at a time with lots people around my age that were lifting heavy, which further made me feel self conscious. I became more reserved and just wanted to leave. Rather than letting that be a discouraging experience, I want to use this as further motivation of why I need to focus more on my fitness schedule.
 
Attached below is drawing #3. It has much better facial symmetry, but I need to find a better resource on how to shade areas and put in fold lines on clothing. The facial shading looks especially rough, making him less of a drop-dead handsome vampire and more of a Heath Ledger Joker, but it was still fun to draw.
 
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Edited by Pierce
The drawing previously wasn't showing up
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22 hours ago, Pierce said:

I also came at a time with lots people around my age that were lifting heavy, which further made me feel self conscious.

Haha that's me every day. Keep going, you'll get used to it!

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@JSmith Fuel for the fire, man. Fuel for the fire.

Day 3

Spent the day chilling at the ER. A friend joked that he was mad at me since a white cloud was following me around: no one was getting hurt. Didn't bother me too much, for the obvious reason of course (I'm all for people staying healthy), but also because it gave me more time to catch up on patient care reports. Highlights of the day were calming down a belligerent man who was making the nurses' lives hell, and that perfect IV stick I did at the end of shift.

I fell asleep on the floor at home, and then pushed myself to get up to do some hill sprints before dinner. I'm going to do some yoga in a little bit before bed. Also, a friend called me and wanted me to dog sit for him Fri night to Sat evening. This is exciting since it means I can hit the night life tomorrow since I don't have to worry about accidentally waking up my parents when I come home late, since I'll be staying at his.

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A white cloud with a silver lining.  : )  That's a nice thing to hear.  Especially in the ER!  Things can get pretty grim very fast in the Emergency unit. 

I think you've got a good way to insert physical exercise into your daily regime, considering that you're working and also studying. 

Have fun tomorrow!  Friday!!!!!

 

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@Dannigan Yeah, as you alluded to in your journal, I'm starting to hit my stride in the endurance race. Enjoy your Friday!

Day 4

I got up for an early workout at the gym for the first time. There were mainly old people there, so I felt a lot more confident while lifting weights. I know that's a very superficial attitude, but I'll take it if it helps me get stronger. After that I headed to class. We went over pharmacology further, and my whole class is frustrated with how lost we all are on certain topics within it. In my operations class we studied the 1995 Sarin gas attack in Tokyo. Absolutely terrifying. I would definitely be open to working at a hazmat fire station once I get my paramedic license; it's an area I want to help in.

After this I'm going to the library to type up more patient care reports, then I'll do pushups and run, and lastly, I'll prepare for tonight. I'm going to a bar to work on building more confidence and charisma, especially in approaching women. My original plan was to go alone, which would probably will spur the greatest growth (though very intimidating), but there's a chance a mutual friend might be free to come along with me. It'd be cool to get to know him better one on one,  and I would appreciate having someone to hang out with when neither of us are talking to girls.

Saturday night my college is putting on a play, and it would be cool to go to. It'd be a nice break from all of the reading and school work  I plan on doing tomorrow.

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@Pierce

University is a ripe place to socialize and date.  I met my second boyfriend at university, and the relationship lasted even past our graduation, until we parted ways as friends.  Go out there, and test out the waters.  Just be direct when you approach girls.  If there's a pool table, invite them over to play.  That always breaks the ice.  : )  As for the bar scene, it is what it is....a place to meet people and hang out.  Be yourself, and have fun no matter what the outcome.  :  )

It's smart to bring a friend along.  Everyone needs that kind of support especially in this situation!  At least you'll have a buddy to hang out with, as you mentioned.

Your post inspired me to write something similar in my own journal.  I'm much older than you, so I have a very different outlook.  Still, it's about time we push ourselves to get out of our comfort zones, when it comes to dating and meeting people.  I have to work on my courage to do so.  So, thank you for this!

 

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@Dannigan Great advice, being direct is essential, and having an acitivty to take part in makes everything easier for all parties. 

It really makes me happy that you're inspired to take the dating scene again. It's a rough one, but it's such a universal and incredible part of the human experience. Hopefully we can learn from one another in this category as well as we share journals. You from your wisdom, and I from my beginner's eyes.

 

 

My goal in this entry is to be as genuine and forthcoming as possible. Obviously, having an ego and being human I will still both consciously and subconsciously hold some bits back, but I feel there’s something important to be gained to throw these raw bits to the public sphere. Also, as you can see, this will be a long post, so buckle up.

Friday Night
After I finished all of my other chores for the night, and then spent a long time getting ready. I usually am not very particular about my appearance other than looking professional, but tonight I made sure to gel my hair, wash my white shoes, choose a flashy outfit, and put on cologne. I felt really good about myself. It was raining hard, but I wasn’t going to chicken out, even if my other friend said he wasn’t going. I drove to the first bar I had planned. It had a beach volleyball court and a dance floor. I chose it because out of the scarce few times I had ever gone out to a bar it was the one I had the best memories (the first time I ever kissed a girl happened there half a year ago). I walked through the rain to the bouncer and gave him my ID. There were a decent number of cars outside so I was hopeful. Inside I saw just a handful of couples in the main bar and was immediately disappointed by the scarce gathering. I checked and saw that the volleyball court and dance floors weren’t open then. I collected myself for a moment, then walked around for one last glance around. As I saw before: only couple’s and small groups of friends. No one sitting by themselves and no groups that looked very inviting. If I were to approach any women it would be a very bold and overt move, which made my shyness creep out. I quickly walked out back to my car. I felt pretty crappy, but I had a list of a few other bars a friend recommended, so I drove to the next one.

When I got there I was already have a lot of negative thoughts going in my head, festering during the drive over. There were just three or four cars outside of a really plain looking bar. I froze in my car. I couldn’t go in. And so I just broke down. I was wondering why I was so upset, and couldn’t figure it out. I’m not a superstitious person, but I was very glad when a friend texted me; it felt like the universe was looking out for me. He asked how I was doing and I lied a little bit by saying, “mildly poorly”. He said he was too. Instead of talking though, like I suggested, he decided to watch TV. So still feeling bad, I texted a friend I hadn’t texted in forever. She’s like a little sister, but we don’t talk often because she frequently drops out of contact. She was thrilled to hear from me, but couldn’t talk because she was about to celebrate her birthday. I wished her happy birthday wishes, got a quick update about what’s going on in her life, and drove to my friend’s house thinking at least it would be nice to spend time with his dog. Dogs are therapeutic.

When I arrived there I saw his car was still there. I was very surprised. Not wanting to seem like a loser for coming back so early, I drove further away while reading the texts from the friends I described above, expecting him and his wife to be leaving for their trip soon. When their car didn’t leave after half an hour I eventually drove up and walked in. His wife greeted me and was annoyed at my friend for not telling me that at the last minute (just an hour before I came in) they decided to not leave until the next morning because he was so tired. I was thrilled, and spoke and laughed with my friend for the next hour. My depression was still there, but it was more like a hangover, floating in the background now. Then I pulled out my book on how to draw gothic manga, and much to my surprise his wife took interest. I forget she was big into art herself. So while my friend fell asleep on the couch next to us, the two of us chose a drawing from the book that we would both work on. While we drew she shared tips on shading, and we both had deep conversation about various topics: the US political system, artificial intelligence, the role of biology in nutrition, and many more. Spending time with them both turned a horribly lonely and depressing night into an incredible one with friends. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that such an amazing experience rescued me from such a horrible one.

Edited by Pierce
I'm breaking up each day into an individual post to make them more readable
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Saturday
The next morning I woke up on the couch to see a controller on the hassock in front of me. My friend had an xbox, which I knew about (I know that with this fact it was crazy to agree to stay here, but hear me out), but I felt confident that I would turn to the things in life that I had been gaining so much joy from: reading, drawing, and working out. Last time I had dog sat for them I played the xbox the while weekend and became horribly bored after a few hours (didn’t stop me from continuing to play it for an absurd amount of time more that time, though). Still, seeing that controller I felt a rush within me. It would be a similar rush to a drug user seeing a needle full of the substance. I felt a giant spike of dopamine at the site, and was excited by it.

I socialized more with my friend and his wife over waffles, then they left. It was probably a matter of minutes that I had the xbox on. My emotional thinking was that this feeling was not going to go away unless it was released, so I’d play for a little bit and then would be so bored I’d quit. Well, the boring part ended up being true, but the rest was not. I played xbox for the next 12 hours. For lunch I ate tons of chips, which is something I never do as a very health conscious person. And here’s the funny thing: playing xbox was absolutely miserable. Sure, I felt a similar dopamine rush slowly looking through his online library of hundreds of games and thinking of what all I’d play, and waiting for games to download was a thrill as well, but playing them was a chore. For example, I played the critically acclaimed GTA 5 for the first time ever. It sucked. Sure, I could see how all the features were shiny and nice, and how much effort was put in it and all of the other games, but it was all superficial. The character growth was so miniscule compared to real life, the effort to progress in the plot seemed so trite (kill x amount of enemies here, bring this to there). I had more fun watching tv on my laptop that I had given to my friend for safekeeping (aka, to keep me from doing just what I was doing), because at least it had an interesting plot that you didn’t have to grind through gameplay to get to.

The most fun I had all day was when I finally realized I should take a break and take the dog for a run. That dog is the best running partner I’ve had in my life. We ran for around a mile (I didn’t keep track: I used how much fun we were having as the only measure), and headed back. The feeling of running, spending time with another mammal, and being outside were so much better than what I had been doing. And yet when I came back the xbox was back on. This is why video games are rightfully now classified as an addiction. When I do what I hate, instead of doing what I love and enjoy and want to (and have equally easy access too, like reading or running), I show my true colors as an addict.

So instead of going to the play I had planned for the night I tried to get some school work done, and ended up continuing with the xbox and tv. I felt dirty, like I was some heroin user. I headed home like this, ate some healthy food, then went to bed.

Edited by Pierce
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Today
I woke up still terribly depressed and upset with myself. I would have paid all of the money in my bank account to turn back time on that last day and do it over again. To have given my friend the power cord to my xbox and my laptop to take with him on the trip. To have read and drawn and spent time with his awesome dog all day. Instead, I had an ER clinical to go to.

As much as I wanted to skip the clinical, I knew I needed to go, so I did. And once I was there I felt better, just as I knew I would. My depression went away because I fought the thoughts. My warrior’s mentality kicked in. I settled in to helping the nurses, and found out that my a guy from my paramedic class I’d been bonding a lot with lately was on that shift with me. We enjoyed working together all day. And having deep conversation during the lunch break. We had so much fun during the lunch break that two girls our age kept on looking away from their phones at us, and midway through our interaction he let me know. My anxiety kicked in, and even though I had the words to say I was too nervous to use them. Later on when two girls from a local college were in a room in the ER with their hurt friend, I made a point to ramp up the charisma to reinforce that habit. It was a good shift, and I was glad I had went. Sure, I wasn’t being paid, and it was a hassle (like how I had to help stick a catheter so a guy who was semi-conscious from drug use would finally pee), but it was worth it. At the end of shift one of the nurses I worked closely with said that my friend and I had made her work-load go from unbearable to manageable that day, and that she was very grateful for all of our help. It felt good.

So I went home, ate, started falling asleep on the floor again, and watched some anime from my computer I retrieved from my friend’s house. That last decision is why I’m not counting today, and it’s also a decision I may regret. I needed this laptop to finish patient care data that was due in the middle of my shift, but it may be wise to return it back to my friend’s safekeeping again. I’m faced with Frodo’s decision at Mt Doom.

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Summary
So here are my consolidated thoughts and feelings, looking back on the weekend. First off, video games can’t compare to the joy of hard work and self-improvement. One is like a dementor sucking all your joy from life, and the other is like a refreshing glass of water, bringing life back to you after walking through a scorching desert. That said, it won’t matter if your other habits aren’t more powerful than the video games in front of you. At home I had started building the habits to make productivity more powerful than flash games and TV, but obviously not more powerful than a console packed with games sitting in front of me. By reducing access to gaming, and increasing access and fun by other sources, I tip the odds increasingly in my favor.

Secondly, I want to talk about dating. I’ve been dreading talking about this subject here because it’s very awkward to disclose how bad I am at it here. I’ve only dated one girl ever, and that was this past year (during the time I wasn’t journaling here), which took a lot of advice from a friend to even get the relationship going. At age 22 I feel less experienced when it comes to dating than most sixteen year olds are. I’ve always been a late bloomer when it comes to social skills, and it doesn’t help that maturity-wise I’ve been like a 50 year old stuck in a 20 year old’s body. I don’t really “get” or enjoy the dating scene as a young adult.

To add to my second point, I’m conflicted. Part of me, my more primitive (though I don’t necessarily mean that in a negative way) side does want to learn how to engage women that are attractive and interesting. To gain experience in dating, and have someone to exchange perspectives and experiences with in a romantic context. My more cerebral “higher self” side (again, not necessarily better or more valid than the primitive one) wants to focus solely within. To gain improve knowledge and gain insight of the self. To have a relationship within. I’ve been leaner heavily towards the latter consciously, but my biological instincts are always pulling me towards the former. My best compromise for now is to seek self improvement, while not barring a relationship if I find a great girl along the way. Advice is definitely welcomed.

So I’m back at the beginning of my one year count. But I’m not discouraged. I haven’t quit the journey. I can foresee unbelievably beautiful times ahead. So I look forward to them.

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I feel like we are nearly identical when it comes to our experience/perspectives on dating (and we're the same age too :o). I wish I could give you concrete advice that I know works, but all I can do is share what I've seen from others, both on this forum and from outside sources.

There certainly seems to be a "dating game" and you can definitely play, but the majority of people I've looked into so far with their relationships seemed to acquire them randomly. They were just going about their lives and then it happened. Also, I have heard from multiple sources that it is in fact better to just focus on yourself firsthand, than trying desperately to get a girl. In fact, this video says that getting girls is the result of doing just that: by focusing on yourself and achieving your goals women become attracted to you. Of course engaging with them still requires some social skill and confidence, but unlike with dating I don't think you would have to "win them over" with clever lines or whatever, you've already done that. I guess it's ultimately our choice. Personally, I'm going along the same route as your compromise.

I'm very sorry to hear your weekend didn't go so well. It's very difficult to resist when your addictions are staring you in the face. I think our environments have a bigger impact on ourselves than we sometimes realize. Thanks for sharing.

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I appreciate the empathy a lot @JSmith, and I can see wisdom in what you're saying. We're both young, so time invested in ourselves right now will have the biggest payoff. This also means we have a lot of time to meet the right person by chance as we go about this. We're bound to form healthier relationships as meet people during self improvement, rather than looking at them for the wrong places. 

I don't know if you've ever studied the Hero's Journey by Joseph Cambell, but he found that we all must go into the cave, our darkest and most feared place, before we grow strong enough to face our next obstacle. Lately I thought the cave was learning how to approach random girls and be charming, like a friend of mine taught me since he had been very successful doing so. For me, though, it always felt wrong, inorganic. Maybe the cave is what I thought before, self-exploration. So I agree with you.

Also, I've checked Far from Average out before. Pretty good stuff. I especially recommend Actualized.org's videos, if you've never checked them out before, especially the earlier ones.

 

Today I went to class again, and even though I woke up so tired I felt drunk, I managed to stay awake during class and learn a few things. We quizzed respiratory and metabolic drugs, and in operations we did an exercise using the Emergency Response Guide to identify what harmful substances would be in trailers and train cars depending on their placard. It's pretty scary when you realize that the truck driving next to you is carrying materials that could kill everyone in a large swathe of the highway around you. Good to know, though, if I ever have to respond to such a call.

Getting back into the homeostasis of life is difficult. The four days I was on a streak I was doing fantastic, and felt fantastic. I want to get back there. Tomorrow is an off day, so I want to take it easy, but also get a lot of good work done. To get back on track. The first step is to become better rested. I felt so tired today that it was hard to find the energy to do anything other than watch tv, and I fell asleep doing that. Maybe I'll cook a new recipe tomorrow. That would be cool.

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Hey mate. I’m sorry about the xbox thing. I’m happy to read that you’re faring better after that.

Also, it’s good that you opened with us about your dating problems. Talking about it can benefit you. I’d like to give you tips about relationships and see if I can help, but the topic is so vast that I can’t say much if you don’t have specific questions. There’s no secret recipe, valid in all situations. Everyone is different, every situation is different. I’ll write a bit anyway, commenting what you wrote. As a general rule, I think that dating and relationships are very different matters. In my opinion, what is generally addressed as dating is mostly a way of validating yourself (or, why not, have sex without further implications. Sex is a basic human need after all), while honest relationships spring from meeting people without a clear intent in mind. Meeting is the important word. You get to know the other person, understand what you like and dislike about him/her, and eventually you start to feel something. In my experience, dating never lead me to a relationship, while meeting people just for the sake of it, almost by chance - because other people are interesting, they really are - often lead me, involuntarily, to start a closer relationship with them that sometimes transformed into something more. It’s not just about “focus on yourself and you’ll meet the right person”. It’s more like “stay close to people you like and you’ll get to know them better”. In her journal, @Dannigan was describing online dating as “(online) shopping”. While I agree with Dani, I also think that “dating” in general, even without the medium of a dating app, can be described that way. My tip is: don’t go to bars with the hope of kissing somebody (expecially if that sounds to you like a remote eventuality). Go there because you want to have a good time, because you like to drink, to dance or to play volleyball, or to meet people in general. If you don’t have real motivation, just don’t go. I never thought I’d say this, because I really dislike this sentence, but just “be yourself”. Hope it helps. Hell, it’s 2.30 AM now, if it doesn’t I’m slipping inside your home while you’re asleep and eat all of your cookies.

Edited by info-gatherer
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@Dannigan I've seen you give advice to a few other guys on dating, and every time it has been very insightful and encouraging. I really appreciate your perspective as a woman, and more importantly, as an intelligent and kind human being.

You're absolutely right about the solution. I've never really thought about it before, but the main reason I've struggled when it's comes to romance has been because of all of the time I spend in front of a video screen in the past. When I did ballroom dancing at my previous college I met many interesting young women, and had gone on the most dates I'd ever been on in my life from that. So yes, being social is the key, but the place and intent are just as important. Going to a place where I have a common interest and an intent to have fun is much better than going to a bar purely as a dating outlet. The latter doesn't fit my lifestyle very well anyway.

There's a writing club at my college. I have been waiting until I "had more free time"  to find out more details about it, but that's an excuse. I'll email the advisor tomorrow. It'd be good since I've been neglecting my poetry lately (my drawing too for that matter).

@info-gatherer You're advice makes a lot of sense. Instead of building more inauthentic "social media style" relationships (and I'm including shallow face to face interactions in that category as well) I should focus on the relationships that flow naturally and are easy and fun to grow. "Being yourself" has been misconstrued a lot because it's bad advice if it means stop growing, but for being authentic it's essential advice. Behaving a certain way to impress women felt crappy anyway, so embracing my nerdiness would probably make me a lot happier anyway.

It's Central Standard Time here (6 hours earlier than you), but for that advice you'd be welcome to have some cookies here anyway as an after dinner snack.

 

 

Getting back in the saddle is really hard. I spent the day watching Stargate Atlantis. The one positive from TV (and why I choose it 9/10 over video games as my posion) are the complicated story arcs and character development. Books would be much better for this. On that note, I've been working on ways to gamify life for the past three years to act as a "productivity machine". My current attempt is writing a pen and paper story line that uses productivity to determine narrative outcomes instead of dice rolling. I'm thinking of implementing the Pomodoro (25 minute productivity sessions) as each "dice roll" and then using the five minute break to write down the outcome. Since daily activities can often seem boring and unimportant, this would provide an action based incentive that would transform the mundane to monumentally important. It'd be interesting to see the outcome tomorrow.

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Today I woke up and almost immediately started on my research paper, which is due next week. It was an amazing feeling. I got a full outline done, gathered all my sources, and wrote an introduction in two hours. Then I hit a brick wall. Using the pen and paper strategy I had lasted thus far, but eventually I fell. I feel awful now. Thinking about it further, the feeling isn't so much from the lost time, but from a feeling of hopelessness. Like I can't ever beat this. All my life I've had this addiction, and for the past seven years of fighting it I've had almost no results. What am I doing?

I know that self-pity doesn't accomplish anything. I just wanted to be real about it.

Edited by Pierce
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On 4/10/2018 at 8:35 PM, Pierce said:

Behaving a certain way to impress women felt crappy anyway, so embracing my nerdiness would probably make me a lot happier anyway.

It's Central Standard Time here (6 hours earlier than you), but for that advice you'd be welcome to have some cookies here anyway as an after dinner snack.

Embrace the 'nerd' in you, Pierce.  Nerdiness is the new hip and you've got plenty of character.  : )  Joining a writing club sounds fascinating and something that you'd look forward to, because of its creative focus and the social aspects.  Hipster nerd ---- > very cool.

1 hour ago, Pierce said:

Today I woke up and almost immediately started on my research paper, which is due next week. It was an amazing feeling. I got a full outline done, gathered all my sources, and wrote an introduction in two hours. Then I hit a brick wall. Using the pen and paper strategy I had lasted thus far, but eventually I fell. I feel awful now. Thinking about it further, the feeling isn't so much from the lost time, but from a feeling of hopelessness. Like I can't ever beat this. All my life I've had this addiction, and for the past seven years of fighting it I've had almost no results. What am I doing?

I know that self-pity doesn't accomplish anything. I just wanted to be real about it.

Is it a full moon?  This is the fourth journal I have read wherein people are struggling 'today'.  I don't mean to make light of how you're feeling, by the way.  Overall, you're moving forward in your studies, and maybe remind yourself of that sometimes.  : ) I am not sure if you are referring to video games again, so instead I will make a general statement. 

Vent as much as you need to.  Let it out.  Doesn't have to be in this journal.  We're fallible creatures.  All of us.  You feel hopeless right now, and maybe you just need to feel that emotion for a while.  It's going to pass.  Also, I know that your school is keeping you busy.  It just seems like every minute of your day is school-focused, and I don't blame you for wanting to vent out the stress somehow.  What you're feeling now may also be a manifestation of external stress.  You are not a failure at all.  You are just immersed in a climate that demands so much of your attention and time.  This may be clouding your judgement of yourself too.  : )

Edited by Dannigan
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