Jan 2018: The Outset

I'm always surprised by how quickly life seems to change. It's a bit like when you're driving on the interstate and you realize you've zoned out for the past little while and you're suddenly 50 miles farther down the road. Every so often I'll catch myself in that same state, roused from the unconscious meandering of the day-to-day to realize that life isn't the same since last I looked up.

I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that the metrics I use to gauge what life is like tend to be things like activity and routine, and don't give nearly enough consideration to the more ephemeral things like how I'm feeling or what I'm thinking. This is at once alarming and unsurprising to me. When I went through empathy training for work (not because I'm empathically deficient, but because my boss thought it would be good team building) the results of the EQ Battery that we took found that I'm a good read of others and a terrible read of myself. I'm not the best at understanding my own emotions...mainly because I don't really think about them. 

And that, obviously, results in a good deal of situational blindness. Because I'm not paying attention to my emotions or my feelings, I ignore all of the minute changes that ultimately add up to what feels like a sudden shift in perspective. Meanwhile, if I just would have been a little more emotionally attuned, all of that growth could have been iterative and enjoyed sooner. 

An example: if you're reading this, you're likely aware of the past few months of visa challenges. The details aren't important, but the entire ordeal serves as the backdrop for what feels like a significant emotional shift. I spent a lot of the first couple of months being annoyed at inefficiencies, red tape, and delays, so much so that it became a distraction from any number of fun, exciting, important things around me. A few weeks ago on New Year's Eve weekend, I felt like I was looking up again, realizing how different my POV was. I'd spent four months working remote, reconnecting with people in Richmond and heading up to New York every few weeks to see friends. I'd started cooking more, reading more, and spending more time with family. I'd gotten to meet, rock, and burp a bunch of my friends' babies (shoutout to the homies: Perry, Dru, Huck, and Bennett), found out I actually love babies, and got to read up and work on some fun passion projects. Because of my focus on the one tangible metric - "Am I in South Africa yet? No? Ok, cool I'm pissed then" - I missed the fact that the past four months have been some of the most enjoyable I've had in a long time.

I'm not sure why I don't like to engage with my emotions. The easy diagnosis is: "deep trauma you don't want to confront," but it's hard to reflect on my life and find anything that traumatic. I do know that I've found a bunch of ways to insulate myself from self-reflection. Late last year I looked at my battery stats on my phone and saw that 85% of my battery usage was going to Twitter. It wasn't that much of a logical jump to see the connection: maybe consuming nonstop nihilistic political and cultural commentary wasn't so great after all? 

I started taking stock of everything I read, listen to, and watch and realized it all cultivates and fuels the same brooding dissension that I've come to detest. In the name of being informed, being "woke," being culturally attuned, all it did was make me angry and bitter and sad. 

So I'm working on it. One of my resolutions this year was to get off Twitter. Yes, that's only treating one symptom of what's probably a bigger, deeper problem, but it's a start. (And so far so good.) I've also started keeping a thankfulness journal, and as much as it pains me to type those words because of how incredibly lame the words thankfulness journal look side by side, it's been really helpful in forcing me into the habit of self-reflection and positivity. 

I'm still waiting on my visa - fingers are crossed that the next time I write one of these it will be from an apartment in Cape Town - but in the meantime, I've got plenty to be happy about. I'm going to keep testing out new recipes and am doing my best to keep up the pace on reading. 

Below are some of my favorite photos from the past four months. Looking at them now, it's hard not to smile - I hope that in the coming months I can be as thankful for moments like these when they happen as I end up being after the fact.