Thursday, January 12, 2012

new year dilemma

I'm not sure if it's really happened, but one of the goals of this blog is to grapple with issues of personal identity and life choices. It's kind of my favorite thing to think about, probably too much so. Every day I feel anxiety over who I am, who I am meant to be (and who decides that), what is meaningful in the world, the whole point of existence, etc.

For most of my adult life I've favored the idea of community and interpersonal relationships providing the most meaning, and probably too often I've relied on other people to give me purpose in life. This is dangerous for anyone, but especially for me because I am single and live far away from my family and closest friends. I'm pretty certain that if I were married I would take better care of myself and find more meaning and purpose in the things I do for me, because they would directly affect another person.  Right now no body cares if I keep my bathroom clean or if I eat nothing but cereal for three days in a row. The problem with thinking and feeling this way is that I am doing a terrible job of taking care of myself, but I have no drive (except a vague guilty feeling in the back of my mind) to do any better.

I had thought of many goals for this new year, but I don't think the personal ones that don't directly affect other people are going to make it past February, and many of them I haven't even bothered to start.

But, you see, I hate this about myself. I hate that I assign meaning to some things over others, to the point where some things have no meaning and so are not worth my time. Right now the only thing that really matters to me is school. Last semester I did well in all of my classes while the rest of my life, happiness, and health crumbled down around me, and my greatest worry in letting that happen was that it would affect my school work. As the semester ended I felt terrible; physically, emotionally, spiritually terrible. I don't want that to happen again, and so my main goal now is to try to find a way to care about myself for the sake of myself.

Ughh, doesn't that seem awful? I don't want to baby myself and focus so much on me that I lose sight of the things that matter. (Wait, no, I matter.)  I prefer the idea that in order to find oneself one must lose oneself in the service of others. But how does that help me keep my bathroom clean? How does that keep me physically healthy?

I don't know if I can find the answers. I know that being with other people and doing things for them makes me happier so I'll keep that up. But I hope I find some things that make me personally happy and feel good that doesn't necessarily affect other people.  One thing I'm thinking of is playing the ukulele. I want to practice it every day because I love it, not because it matters to someone else. But I can't help but think "if it doesn't matter to another person then what is the point?" Bah. Why can't "Because I enjoy it" be enough?? Someone asked me if I have less interest or pleasure in the things that I used to enjoy, and I couldn't answer the question because I don't do anything that I enjoy.  I knit, but there's no pleasure in that except for knowing that I'm making something for someone I care about. I cook, but I only like doing that when I'm cooking for other people.

Well, ok, as far as food and health there are some things I can do. I'd like to have less impact on the earth. I don't have a car, so that's good, and I just found a market near my house that is 100% local, so I plan on buying food from there.  I also want to be less wasteful, especially with food. I found this poster that was used during WWII to encourage everyone to waste less food, and I think it's perfect for life now. I want to value my food, because it is valuable. I don't mind spending more money on food if I work hard to not waste it. I just love this poster. Buy food with thought, cook it with care, don't eat more than you need, save what you can, and don't waste it. So sensible, and yet it seems so revolutionary. I think this is a perfect goal for 2012 and something I can maintain past February.

Also, I like this video I saw last week. I have seen a decline in my health since I came back from London and I'm pretty sure it's because I have not been walking everywhere. Even though I don't have a car here, it's very hard to get around town on the buses so I usually find a ride. But, I want to walk 30 minutes every day and I'm pretty sure I can do it. Now that I found the food market so close to my house I can definitely walk over there once or twice a week.

So I don't know. Does anyone have any suggestions for changing how I value myself and start doing things that are personally enjoyable?


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  2. I've been thinking about this all day and I've got no solution. I'm terrible about getting things done when I'm not accountable. I'm sad that the only reason I ever learned so much about music was that I had a parent or teacher watching over me. How can I do it on my own? I like doing it. What's wrong with me? Same with exercise. I enjoy it when I do it, but why don't I exercise more?

    I think establishing habits works well for me. Everyday I get up a such a time and do this at such a time. But my time is now almost completely my own and is too flexible. Luckily I have John now to tell me, "practice an instrument" or "what do you want for dinner?"

    I wish we could be accountable to each other even though we are so far away!

  3. love you. keep being straight up with yourself- love yourself like i love you- and come walk ny to a little pile of dust. you're one of the best people i know so chew on that when you feel like it.

  4. Maybe everyone struggles with these things a little bit. Or a lot a bit. I don't see friends as often as I used to, and I do live with someone (my husband), but he is at school so much, and I am at school much less. I keep finding myself getting so much more done when he is home, or when I make myself be in situations where it is not just me, sitting on my bed/couch. It is so hard. It is so hard to be responsible when there is not someone else there to respond to, or that is responding back. And I definitely eat a lot more candy when I am home by myself.

    I like your musical instrument idea. And I loved your sentence, "Wait, I matter." You do. A lot. Try to find those things you love, just because you love them. Even things you know you love, like films.

  5. p.s. I have watched that "best thing you can do in a day" thing before, and really, really love it. I have actually tried to let it guide me too, because I love exercise but don't do it much anymore. Days when I leave my house, even if it is a walk to the grocery store seem to be better.