Look at that title. Doesn’t it sound whiny and entitled. Like a spoiled brat who doesn’t know the value of things: “I want this, I want that”
I remember that monstrous being people identify as my biological mother, to my great displeasure: she used to make fun of me for wanting things. She wanted to teach me that I couldn’t just want things; especially skills but also material things, which at that age meant toys and videogames, mostly. It wasn’t enough to want, I needed to work for them, that was her point.
I’ve always been very ambitious.
In a way, I should be thankful. I haven’t updated this blog much, but that’s not because I’ve been worse. I’ve got better. So much better I can hardly compare where I am now with where I was a year ago. Many small things improved, but most of all, I’m regularly writing about games, which is pretty extraordinary for me.
When I think about how and why I have improved, I imagine a mental block that I have managed to dissolve, a little like solving a puzzle in a game; and as a result, I’m able to access a new area of my personality. It already existed, I could describe it and “feel” it before, but I could not access it, or act on its impulses. I have not changed, in a way, but I can now do things I wasn’t able to do before, because the block, well, it did its job. I can realize what I already was in potential to a greater extent.
Mostly, I’ve gone back to where I was before my breakdown, almost 2 years ago, when I was a highly flawed, but mostly functioning human being. Perhaps I improved a little, but I’m roughly there.
And I can tell because there’s another block I’m dealing with, the same I was dealing with back then, the one that caused my breakdown. It’s huge, and heavy, and solid. It shows no signs of fragility, no cracks I might infiltrate, no weaknesses. I believe if I can dissolve it, everything else will fall into place, and the vast majority of my issues will solve themselves. I’m not saying I’d be completely fine and happy, I’m still very isolated for instance, but I think things would improve even more than they did when I overcame the other, smaller block
This bigger block manifests itself in a variety of ways. It’s in everything I do. Mostly, it’s limiting the ways I am able to express myself; it can be partially summed up in that expression, “I want”, or rather in my inability to act on what I want, but here language gets tricky, and I don’t have the proper terminology to explain how I understand this in a simple way.
On an abstract level, I know what I want, and, relatedly, what I like. I want to transition. I want to be creative. I like videogames, literature, philosophy, and I like engaging with those things. Just to mention a few examples. If I started my gaming blog, it’s because I enjoy reading about games that way, and I genuinely want to write about games myself.
But when it comes down to it, to doing things in practice, I don’t know how to approach anything as a “want”, but only as a “must”, as an obligation, as a chore, as homework, as an assignment. Which can be useful, occasionally, no doubt about it. But for me, for how I work, and for how this attitude pollutes my life, it has sucked the joy out of everything I do. (Except videogames, to an extent, and even they are affected by it, but that’s another story)
And then, there’s my guilt. Omnipresent, soul-crushing guilt. It’s everywhere. It’s the emotion I feel the most, together with frustration directed at myself.
It’s as if everything I do has to have a use, a purpose, an ‘objective justification’. Every minute has to be productive, which is why I tend to make mental timetables. Not that I would like to waste time, but I tend to think of my days in time blocks, all of which have to be filled with ‘meaningful’ activity, all of them of the utmost importance, all of them to be performed to the best of my abilities, and with the utmost concentration. Of course I regularly fail, because that’s not humanly possible, and then I feel guilty for “wasting time”
This abstract description is not even half of the picture, but let’s make some concrete examples.
Take writing, for instance. I know I want to write. Over the years I doubted myself, I decided to quit it, and I did a lot of soul-searching, but I always went back to it in the end, so I know writing is important to me. But it’s been years since I genuinely enjoyed writing anything. You’ll see me complaining about my writing style on my gaming blog: I hate it. It’s dry, arid, lifeless, excessively academic, it’s the opposite of what I’d like to achieve (one of my biggest inspirations is Cara Ellison, whose style is lively, personal, “aggressively vulnerable”), but it’s a necessity for now. If I try to write like that, I freeze up. I want to write articles for my gaming blog, I really do. But never for a second I approached writing an article with an attitude of wanting to write. Only ever with the attitude that I must write.
When I try to do creative writing, most of the time I’m just blocked, and when I’m not I almost have to beat the words out of myself. Again, they’re dry, they lack any kind of passion or liveliness. And the problem is that I never ‘want’ to write, but I always ‘must’, because it’s so important to me. And when I want to get serious about creative writing, well, it’s not just writing that is affected. Because if I want to be any good, then I must read a lot, right? So, if I really want to write, perhaps I should read a minimum of 2 hours a day, and write an hour a day. The keyword is ‘should’. I took another activity I enjoy doing, reading, and turned into a chore. I still enjoy reading, occasionally, but that’s almost an accident. I’m not reading because I want, I’m reading because I must.
My day-to-day life is filled with chores that are supposed to be my hobbies and my passions, only emptied of that quality that made them so in the first place. And working pretty much every waking moment is exhausting. Well, not working, exactly, but being in the working mindset, in that “must” attitude. Incidentally, that’s why I waste a lot of time: it’s the only way I have to escape all this mental construction. And even then, it’s not like I won’t feel guilt afterwards, but at least my mind has got a moment of respite.
Aside from stress, frustration and guilt, I’m apathetic all the time, which is in my opinion another effect of that same block. Just like I can’t do something simply because I want to do it, my emotions have been suppressed too. I cannot express myself in any genuine way. In the case of my emotions, they are replaced by constant conceptualization and rationalization. If my writing style is what it is, it’s because those things are all I have to work with.
It’s as if what I want and what I feel don’t matter. They have been suppressed, removed, replaced. I don’t want to say that those two things are the most important, relevant or “true” expressions of one’s personality, but in a way they’re the most spontaneous and un-mediated. In my day-to-day, I’m missing an entire area of my personality, I lack two important motivations to act, two fundamental sources of energy.
And I think that if they aren’t coming out to play, it’s because they are scared of being hurt, and maybe someone didn’t teach them to believe in themselves and stand up for themselves.
It’s clear to me that if I manage to open the lock, to overcome this block, everything will be affected. I wouldn’t solve all my problems, but I would solve so many.
Most importantly, I’d recover an important part of who I am, and I’d be able to realize much more of my potential.