This. But in list form.
This weekend, I turned twenty-five. A few days before that, I was Freshly Pressed. While one has no relation to the other, I find both fairly astonishing. I never expected to be Freshly Pressed, while I fully expected to turn twenty-five barring something unfortunate. As to why they are fairly astonishing, they are that way for different reasons. Nobody expects to be Freshly Pressed: it just kind of happens. It’s not something you can really make a goal of, because you can’t really control it–that’s up to the editors here on WordPress. As for why turning twenty-five is fairly astonishing, well, think about it. Being a male, my lifespan will be, on average, about seventy-four years. So, I am about a third of the way through that now.
If that’s a bit of a gloomy way to look at things, well, it is. That could partially explain the funk I’ve been in for awhile now, although the real reason behind that is not so much age but rather dissatisfaction. I tend to hold myself to ridiculous standards, and according to those I’m a twenty-five year old screw up. After all, I barely work part time, I’m single, and I live in my mom’s basement. You have to understand that by now according to these expectati0ns for myself that I picked up from Lord knows where that I would have a Career (whatever it may be), be married, and be living on my own by now. However, the Universe does what it does and for a variety of reasons (including that giant economic meltdown four years ago) none of that has come to pass.
Despite all that, I’m happy. I wasn’t for awhile, but now I am. Sure I spent some time wallowing in self pity (I’ve done that a lot over the years, believe me), but one day last week it all just kinda clicked into place. It was nothing I didn’t already know of course, but every now and then we need a reminder. Mostly, I realized that continually beating myself up over expectations is silly. They’re things in my own head, not based on any kind of reality. I was drowning myself with shoulda, coulda, and woulda’s and thus neglecting the life I have right now. Are there a lot of things that I’d like to accomplish? Yes. Sitting around and whining about my life and being all woe is me about things I can’t control doesn’t help accomplish them though!
So, I’m in the process of making some rather large changes. First, I am on a dating hiatus. I have spent so much effort looking for that someone special that I am now quite literally burnt out and sick of the whole process. It’s not like I’m completely bitter and hate women or anything; guys who are like that are just childish, and so are their counterparts among women. Rather, I realized two things: what I was doing was making me unhappy, and that forming a romantic relationship is largely out of my hands. If something is voluntary, making you unhappy, and not netting the desired results, why keep doing it? Dating is quite literally a crap shoot, and although you can slightly weight the dice in your favor (by not being a complete slob, for one), the results are still basically up to chance (i.e. whether you find a person in the right time in their life to date, whether they meet your needs/desires, whether you meet theirs, etc).
Instead, I am devoting myself to myself. Now, this does not mean I’m not some completely self centered bastard who is out to screw people over every chance he gets. Rather the opposite, actually. This is a program of self improvement. I have recommitted myself to the Way, and am practicing better, being more mindful of myself and others. Second, I am doing everything I can to advance my career (and not griping nearly as much about it!) in the teaching field. Currently, I’m halfway through my course work to get my Alternative Resident Educator License. Third, I am committing myself to my personal projects, such as this blog and my novels. I have two novels in the works, although the fantasy novel has taken priority, and of course my blog. To this end, I make a daily list of goals such as “outline two scenes for Calafel Cycle 1″. As for the blog, I’ve begun a new series called “Visions of Hell” about Hell in various mythologies from around the world. So check out Visions of Hell #1–The Nine Circles of Dante’s Inferno this Thursday!
However, at the same time I am not killing myself for my hobbies. If something doesn’t get done because the spirit is willing but the flesh is week, I’m no longer going to beat myself up for it. That illustrates the fourth part, a part of my practice of the Way–being gentler with myself. That isn’t to say that I don’t have high expectations, but rather it is to say that I’m becoming more mindful of my inner dialogue. Too often we are way too hard on ourselves, and it is to our detriment. I know that I personally wouldn’t speak to a dog the way that I sometimes talk to myself in my own head. Being gentle with oneself is a process of recognizing these negative thought patterns, gently rebuking and refuting them, and replacing them with healthier ones. Instead of “well that was stupid. You’re a complete idiot for having done [insert thing here]“, think “No no, that wasn’t stupid. People make mistakes. That certainly was silly though, and I should be a bit more mindful in the future”. And then, this is important, laugh at yourself. It helps a lot to be able to laugh at yourself, so long as you know when to be serious and when not to be!
A journal–like a therapist, but cheaper!
The final point gets us to the titular Bucket List. This is in conjunction with my new habit of keeping a daily journal I use the bucket list to mark my place in the journal, so I get a chance to look at it every day, review it, and add to it as I think of things As for the Bucket List, I really have no idea if there are “rules” to making one and frankly don’t care if there are. It is a grab bag of random goals, some huge and some tiny. I have everything from “learn to swim” to “Visit Easter Island” and I am adding more almost every day. My thought was to put in small, attainable goals alongside the huge, long term goals. So I can potentially begin checking off some of the smaller stuff in the short term. For example, I wrote “Read Moby Dick” in there, and as we speak I’m on page fifty in said book.
Finally, and on a related note, I decided that I’m going to start going on mini-adventures on the weekends. Being a substitute teacher, I have guaranteed weekends off, so might as well make the most of them! Even if all I do is go to some random town and walk around its downtown a bit, or visit some shop I’ve never been to, I want to visit new places within about a two hour radius of where I live. There’s a lot in this area, so that’s not a tall order. A fun trip doesn’t have to be huge and expensive. It’s mostly just a matter of getting out, seeing new things, and meeting new people (the latter of which I do all the time during my work week, but still). Now I do have bigger trips in mind, as I said, starting with one to Gettysburg at some point this summer. But for now I’m going to content myself with getting in the habit of going out more weekends than not to go run around having random miniature adventures. The one I had planned for last weekend got cancelled because I forgot my own birthday was Sunday (whoops!) but this weekend, my brother and I are going to see to that one. We are going to visit Warther Carving Museum…I might put up a post about it (haven’t decided yet).
Call it a pre-New Years resolution. So far, it is working because I am much happier. Having a list of awesome things to look forward to and goals to reach is very helpful. That which was vague before seems more concrete. While I was skeptical before, now I would recommend everyone at least try to make a Bucket List!
How about you? Do you have a Bucket List? Care to share some entries if you do?