Living responsibly

The new year is here already! I have thunk so many interesting thoughts in the past few weeks but haven’t blogged about any of them. I imagine that my blog is telling me off about this in a very stereotypical grandma-like voice. If you’ve got a job, work. If you’ve got a car, drive. If you’ve got a blog, write. So here’s some random thoughts.

It’s almost 4AM right now and I have just become completely awake. The reason for this is that my girlfriend and I came back from Japan yesterday and I decided to do something I’ve hardly ever done lately: go to bed when I’m tired. Which, in my case, was about 9PM.

People always use the new year as a reason to make random wild claims about how one will improve one’s life in the future. I tend to use the ends of holidays. Fortunately the two coincide for me every once in a while. Even if nothing comes of it, it’s important to reflect and see how you can do better. A blogpost is a great way to write down what you would like to happen in the near future.

This year I only have one primary goal; one addition to life that I want to spend my energy, brainpower and money on. A house. Last summer I decided I wanted a car and a better apartment. I got a car, and searching for a better apartment made me realize that renting a more expensive one would not make sense at all in my ‘grand scheme of things’. Regardless of the circumstances here, I’m realizing that a lot of things I naively thought, or wished, were variables in my life, are really constants. I tend to pride myself on being flexible and leaving my options open, particularly when it comes to where to live. But sometimes, sometimes you just have to choose a side, and reap all the benefits (and negatives) that come with it. I’ve already made my choice, now it’s time to formalize it.

There’s a lot of other things I want to do in the span of the next 12 months. Traveling. Cycling. Driving. Getting fit. Expanding my knowledge on various topics by doing some serious research and experimentation. Some of these will happen, some of them won’t. There will be an inevitable lack of holiday time, willpower time or money, making it unlikely that I’ll be able to do all the things that I want. I am able to say these things right now because I am fairly clear of the ‘mind fog‘ that waitbutwhy so excellently describes. This is what good holidays do: they clear your mind and make you able to see things in the long term, accepting things that are not possible for what they are, rather than feeling frustrated about it.

This post-holiday clarity of mind is a feeling that, in my case, gets lots very easily when I go back to work again, usually within two weeks. Depending on my circumstances, I can resist the dull drone of daily life for a while, or I can choose to embrace it fully, knowing that there will be another holiday coming up in a few months. Why would I not resist it? Very simple: in daily-life-mode I am a million times more effective as a programmer. In clarity mode I think about all kinds of things, both related and unrelated to the task at hand, and I question a lot of the decisions I and others are making. In daily life mode I focus on the job at hand and don’t let anything else in.

When I’m in daily life mode it’s not easy for me to focus on anything else after I come home from work. Even if I leave at a sane time and don’t work late I find myself not having the mental energy to delve into new things for extended periods of time. Daily-life me is displeased by this fact and kind of unhappy about it. Clarity-mode me is like “Whatever dude. It’s all good, just enjoy life, man”.

I’ve tried many coping strategies and I can’t find any that work on me. The only way to deal, it seems, is to lower my expectations. If I’ve done a full day’s work but not done anything new personally in the evening, that is perfectly acceptable. If I want to learn something new and unrelated to work, I can take time off to focus the main part of my brain on it, or, if work is not too hectic, I can accept the performance decrease at work and keep my brain in clarity mode for a while. The core point of this whole strategy is convincing my daily life self that living this way is okay. Unfortunately I need my claritic self to remind me of that, and he’s not always there.

A new year, a new coping strategy. My personality changes less and less as time goes by. Some of my issues I’ve ironed out, others still exist. I’m getting better at being me.

There are always amazing things to look forward to.

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