But what's been going on with me? Oh, the usual... writing, fandoms, holiday depression. Actually, that last one wasn't too bad in comparison to other years, so I'm thankful. It's sad when you have to be grateful when things aren't as bad as they could be, but it's better than not being grateful for anything. I wish I hadn't been pressured into going out to dinner on New Year's Eve, but other than that - or even including that - I survived fine. And I was just really ready for a new year.
January, for me, is a thoughtful month. I usually don't get as much writing done in the winter, and particularly, January. I actually wrote more than I thought I would during the holidays, but now, I can feel myself wanting to slow down and rest. Under normal circumstances, I'd be really frustrated by not having written this far into the week (I usually count writing weeks from Friday to Thursday, because Thursdays are when Jill reads my weekly writing at therapy). But I've been getting a lot of signs that resting is a good thing for me right now; the greatest of which was this article, which I read a few days ago. Though it describes Expansion as a time of new ideas, I find that, during the winter, I actually get a lot of new ideas. The Contraction times for me are times of planning, where I'm not doing much work on actually writing, but a lot of new ideas surface, and little things click into place. Even more than usual, I'm focused on stories in the future. Sometimes, I'll even write out some scenes for those stories, but I'm just not as focused on writing my current stories.
This week has been a Contraction week, for sure. I've been relaxing... and without the guilt. As I mentioned in my comment, even when I let myself give into the need to rest, I often guilt myself about it, which almost completely taints what I gain from it. It's not really rest, if you're stressing about it. Interestingly, I recently heard a quote from a Neopets friend about rest, "No rest is worth anything but the rest that is earned." While I do agree that one needs to make sure they put in the effort during times of Expansion, I didn't want him putting rest down completely. If all you did in life was work, you'd end up drained. You might even be forced to rest... and for longer than you would have needed if you had taken regular breaks. Point is, rest is a natural part of life. We need times of Contraction, just like we need times of Expansion. But everyone's balance of those cycles is different, and we just need to listen to our intuition when it's telling us which it currently is.
So, right now, I'm resting. I probably will try to write tomorrow, but I'm not going to force it. Writers mostly have been agreeing with me that "forcing it" is not a good idea, whether that means to skipping to a part of the story, which suits your mood better, moving to a different story for a while, or in this case, just taking a short break. I believe there are few times when forcing something is the right thing to do. There are times, certainly, but few.
Last January (and some of the previous December), I was reading through Add More ~ing to Your Life, and - though, I struggled with the book at times - it was mostly a good way to get really thoughtful about some new ways of seeing things for a new year. The book certainly inspired a lot of journal posts. I remember doing a lot of crying and meditating, while listening to music, which was really touching my soul at the time. I must have been somewhat ready to do that again, because something about the new year approaching made me want to start a book from my Aunt, that I've had sitting around for years, What Would You Do If You had No Fear?. In all honestly, I just wanted to read the book, so I could release it from its place of taunting me. I've let it sit around for so long, because I just knew it was going to be difficult and make me think bad things about myself, because I'm not at all willing to release my fears of people.
I was kind of wrong. Wrong about the book, I mean. Okay, I really haven't gotten far along it at all, so I don't know for certain that I'm completely wrong about it. But from the Introduction and Chapter 1, I can see that this book isn't quite for me for a whole other reason: I'm already doing what I would do if I had no fear. Well, not entirely. Certainly, there are things I'd kind of like to do, which fear keeps me from. Going to Harry Potter and anime conventions, for one. But even those things just aren't very important to me, because if they were, I'd work on them. That's the thing with me; I don't put energy into most of the things that I fear, because it would drain me too much for the things that are really important to me. Like writing. Like, hopefully, doing small local events for writing. That's exactly what I want to do with my life, and I'm already doing it.
My Aunt Pat (the same one, who got me that book years ago) called recently. I don't hear from her often, so she was happy to hear me update her on how well writing has been going over the last couple of years and all my plans for the future. Then, she asked me what else have I been doing. She asked if I've been getting out, and when I told her that I haven't much, she suggested taking writing or knitting classes. I told her I would never be able to take classes, because I never go out on my own. She said she hoped I'd get over it. Those are trigger words for me, and though I was trying to be nice about it, I knew I had to shut this idea down. I told her that I had no desire to take classes, so I wasn't going to put effort into something that would never work, when I didn't want it anyhow.
The book talks about doing those things you've always wanted to do. But I don't want to travel and see the world. I don't want to take classes for things I don't care about (this includes writing classes, because I know what and how I like to write already). I don't want to go out all the time. I don't want to be normal. (Yes, it would be nice to not feel like I was in near-mortal danger every time I went out in public, but hey, I've been going out shopping with my Mom most Saturdays for years, and it has never gotten any better.) I have no desire for those things. What I want is to write. What I want is to self-publish. What I want is to enjoy inspiration from movies, games, books, and music from the comfort of my own home. And I don't want those things, because I'm afraid of "what I really want". I want those things, because I'm an Introvert... not because I have Social Anxiety. (Those are two different things, by the way.) I want these things, because I'm me. The only thing I really want, that fear might be keeping me, from is Morgan. But even that's not for certain, because Morgan's not likely to be someone who's out all the time. I want another Introvert, like me. And I am very open to online contact.
I always go into these sorts of Non-Fiction books with a bad mentality of knowing that a frustrating challenge waits for me, the easily triggered. But I will say that I do usually learn something about myself, even if it's not exactly the lesson the book intended. And it usually gets me to journal about it. So, watch out. *Looks at this long post* Maybe, it's too late for that warning. :/
January has been pretty kind to me, so far. I feel lighter, like the baggage of last year (or maybe the last few years) has mostly been left behind. This won't last. But I'm trying to be kinder to myself, to let the little mistakes and mishaps go more easily, and to allow myself to rest. Rest, because there's a lot I want to do this year, and I need the energy to do it.
I wish you all the start of great new year. If things aren't going well so far, remember to take a deep breath and know that you don't always have to wait for a new year to get things back on track. And I'm always here if you need to talk.