Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Hello 2013

This year, like every year, is the year I'm going to get my shit together, become responsible, and make the life I want for myself. As has been on the list for the past four to seven years, this will all be accomplished by decluttering all my stuff, getting out of debt, moving to a big city, finding a job I love, and generally becoming a healthy, nice, well-rounded person. I would feel like a lone failure for having the same new year's goals since the early aughts, if a little voice inside me weren't whispering that most people face the same problems every year. We change and grow, but often it takes a lot longer than 365 days for those changes to become permanent and satisfying.

I could be all zen about this and realize that I can let go of goals and still grow as a person, that changing my mindset is more important than checking off a silly to-do list, or that perhaps not everything needs to be perfect in order for me to be happy.  I say screw that; 2013 is the year I'm going to get all this crap off my to-do list once and for all, or die trying.

2013 will be the year I actually haul my cast-offs to the thrift store, instead of dedicating a corner of my house to piles of junk I no longer use. It will be the year I keep a job and stay focused on my budget so I can finally get out of debt. It will be the year I start being consistent in my writing and work to make money at it, rather than having little bursts of creativity every eight months, then wondering why I'm not more successful.

I'm confident that I can do these things this year because I'm angry, I lie to myself, and I've already changed my behavior. Let me explain.

I'm Angry
I feel as if I've wasted the last five years of my life on depression and anxiety and general laziness. It upsets me that I'm very dependent on the kindness of others for a place to live, food to eat, and even the internet I use. I hate that I've had the same goals for years, but never quite get them checked off my list. All of this has simmered on the back burner for a long time, but I think that pot is finally going to boil over. Rather than ignore my anger, work on managing it, or trying to stifle it, this year I'm going to use it. I'm turning it into a tool to motivate me, and a reminder to keep me on track.

I Lie to Myself
I used to tell myself little lies, like "I'll do it tomorrow, really", or "It's not that much money, I'll be fine", or even "They're a nice person, they won't hurt me again if I give them another chance". I've worked hard to stop hurtfully lying to myself, but I find that this is another negative thing I can turn into a positive tool. For example, if I set my clocks ahead by five minutes, I usually don't remember that I've done this. That way a lie past Kimber told helps present Kimber to be on time. I now tell myself "You just have to wash one plate and wipe down the counter, then you can quit", knowing that I'll be compelled to clean the whole kitchen after that. I get myself out of the shower in the morning by telling myself I can go straight back to bed; the lie works because once I get dressed after the shower I feel less sleepy.

All of those little lies add up to help me, but the biggest--and most helpful--lie I'm telling myself this year is that I'm twenty-seven. I'm  really only twenty-six, but for some reason being twenty-seven in 2013 sounds fortuitous, and I feel like I've gotten a bonus year. Twenty-six can be rolled into the ball of wasted time in my early twenties, and I get two years of being older, wiser, and more productive at twenty-seven.  It's definitely  odd that this comforts me so, but when I'm facing a long to-do list, a cold walk to the bus station, or a blog post I'm scared to write, I tell myself, "It's okay, you're twenty-seven, you're old enough to do what needs to be done, and confident enough to know that doing it will make the life you want for yourself". Honestly I think I sound a little bit like a Viagra commercial, but that's okay, because I'm twenty-seven, and if my truth sounds like a boner-pill, then so be it.

Behavioral Changes
I used to be a pack-rat who never kept track of my money and paid no attention to how my daily decisions affected my long-term goals. I still managed to go to school and keep a job, but as my depression worsened it all became too much. School and work suffered in part because I had no idea how much stress my lifestyle was causing me. It took years of effort, but I now have and use very little (not counting the mountain of boxes and bags of stuff I need to take to the donation center), stick to a responsible budget  (though I have yet to make enough money to cover more than the minimum payments on my debt), and take public transit as if I live in a big city. To make things easier on myself I pushed aside the accumulated debris of my previous life, but I've gotten to the point where I now need to deal with the backlog. This is overwhelming, and starting to bring back the same stress I had in my previous lifestyle. But, once I bite the bullet and get rid of the leftover debt and junk, I've already got the much harder-earned behavioral changes. Plus I'll have less to haul when I do move to the metropolis of my dreams.

Between these three things, I think 2013 is going to be a pivotal year in which I change my life for the better. Or at least get a hell of a lot of shit done.

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