Night of the Forgotten Lists

Another tragic side effect of moving with over half of your things having been in storage for a little over 2 years is running into things you forgot you had — and some you wish you could forget. One of the things I ran into this past week was an old diary. I have several of them because I think that journaling is important, but when I reread them I embarrass myself coming from a place of time, knowledge, and experience. I have therefore made a point to not read any of the diaries.

I am a list maker and have been for some time. I went to write out my Autumn 2016 list and was looking for a blank, bound diary I can keep my lists in. I found one and proceeded to evaluate it…then found that I had used this diary before years and years ago. I used it over the course of several years for the same purpose I now intend to use it again. Alas, I read the old entries and old lists. I tried not to, but I did.

What I learned is that I am way too hard on myself. There is a part of me — and I was shocked at how big of a part — that still thinks I am a horrible failure and is so critical of everything I do that forward progress becomes impeded by my abysmal attitude. I am truly my own worst enemy.

Reading some of these lists, some 10+ years old, I remember being so disappointed with myself for not finishing them. I remember being so down on myself for not being stronger. I was always in this perpetual state of disappointed misery because I didn’t do them and thought I never would. I thought they were the keys to the betterment of my life and my goals. Every un-checked box was like a betrayal of my life and who I wanted to be.

Years later, I have not only completed most of the items on the lists, but I have realized that most of the other tasks are totally irrelevant to me and who I want to be. There are only maybe two that I look back on and think, “You know what? I really should have done that.” Not finishing Final Fantasy VIII has not affected me in any discernable way. Not finishing the novel I was writing when I was 20 has. However, I have completed and published a novel since then. Not with a huge publisher, not with what I wanted to write, but I have done it.

And you know that novel I wrote about 25 chapters of when I was in my early 20s? That shit is pretty good. Had I read more epic fantasy and passed my novel around more and gotten more honest opinions, I might be in a different place than I am now. Probably better.

So, part of this taught me that I need to focus on the important parts instead of being bogged down in the more menial and less important tasks.

More than anything, though, it told me that I need to be easier on myself. Not every little failure is a life shattering event. I am determined and motivated and consistent. What I need to do is stop setting myself up for failure. Some of these lists and the time frame I gave myself to complete them in were (and are) absurd. I would have to clone myself or be Multiple Man to get even a fraction of them done in the time allotted. By setting myself up for failure I weaken my resolve, undermine my considerable successes, and see myself, my efforts, and my work as trivial and insignificant.

I’m better than I think, and my diminishing of that only serves to hold me back further, thus supposedly reinforcing this jaundiced view of myself. I’ve been doing it for years, and by becoming aware of it, I can stop it.

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~ by Darren Endymion on September 19, 2016.

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