Where's the Pressure Coming From - Confession 80

2018.06.05 20:10:19

Man, it's been a good while since I sat down and wrote one of these whine entries. Well, I guess it's time again. It being such a long time since I last had to write about something like this naturally seems like a good thing, but I think matters are a bit more complicated than that. I suppose I should elaborate on that.

First, though, let me just get out of the way how I got here in the first place. Well, here being just me feeling like a complete turd, and getting here meaning just the short span of the day, as elaborating the entire background behind it would probably require writing up my entire life up until this point.


I've already been kind of down in the dumps the past couple of days, so there's been a predisposition for me to start feeling worse still. Today I then got onto another one of my classic trains of thought about all the things I feel like I should be doing, and how I'm massively unqualified for all of them, and how thus it will take me eternity to get them all done. Naturally, both the feeling of inadequacy, and the feeling of impossibility of the entire affair don't exactly lead to a positive outlook on things.

I spent my morning dwelling on that. Attempts at distraction didn't work until I had to set out for lunch where I would meet one of my old high school classmates. The lunch was good, and got my mind off of things for a while. Unfortunately, that wasn't to last either, as right around dinner time my mood started worsening again. This time it wasn't so much the impossibility of all my ambitions that bothered me, but yet another old friend of mine: the feeling of inferiority.

Often when I look around me, look at the friends and acquaintances I have, all of those that are following a similar career path to me (academia) are farther ahead than I am. I haven't even gotten my Bachelor's yet, and most of my old classmates, and many of my friends are working on, or already have their Master's. Most of those who don't follow academia already have stable jobs and are working hard to earn their pay.

By comparison it always seems to me like I'm some kind of complete wanker, wasting away all this precious time accomplishing nothing worthy of note, taking forever to finish my basic education, and always whining about how bad I have it to boot.

As you can probably tell, despite my general tendency to try and stay as realistic and truthful as possible, when I'm depressed that all goes out the window and my mind switches to a fully selective mode where only the negative points are highlighted. Anything that might make me look bad – anything that makes me look like a failure and a whiny piss baby – is choice material for me to think about until I feel so sour about it that the pH goes below zero.

It doesn't really matter that, from any rational point of view, all of these things I'm telling myself are dumb at best, and completely false at worst. When I'm depressed I can still rationally think about things and try to tell myself that it's all wrong, but it doesn't help. My brain just wants to feel sad, and so I feel sad.

But, let's come back to the original hook of this entry for a bit. Let's try and think less about the symptoms and what immediately caused this episode, but rather about a more long-term view on things. Specifically, I have not had very bad mood swings in a long time now. I've still had some, but they've all been comparatively minor, and comparatively rare, when put against how things used to be. I used to become depressed much more often and much more severely than now.

But… that's great! Less sadness! Less pity! And most of all, less annoying whining that others have to listen to! Those are all good things, right? This is a positive change, right?

Well, maybe so on the surface. But on another level I also feel vastly less productive than before. I haven't kept up with my studies at all in the months since ELS, and even before then I didn't manage to do the exercise sheets. And that's despite the fact that I only have a single lecture this semester. I haven't really worked on my own projects either, and especially art has taken a huge nose dive to the point where I don't know if I can even consider myself to be drawing at all anymore. So where has all that time gone? What the hell have I been doing?

For one part I guess I have the excuse of the Bachelor's thesis that was going on until the end of April. But that's not that good of an excuse as that's been leisurely for the most part, and it's been over for well over a month now in any case. Other than that I suppose I've been streaming a lot. I don't know how it happened, but video game streams have increased from once or twice a week to almost every day. Sometimes even multiple times a day.

So far I've been able to keep this up under the guise of relaxation – it's one of the few things that I can do to relax without actively feeling guilty about it. But I feel like I've been taking it too far. I've gotten too lazy. Too much of my time has been taken up by playing and streaming games. It's not even like I have an audience either; just my two friends – bless their pure hearts – that I coerce into watching so it doesn't feel as god damn lonely as it really is.

You have to understand that streaming games, while relaxing, isn't fulfilling for me. It's not satisfying any particular kind of need or desire of mine. I've just been doing it because it's easy, and because it's convenient. But it doesn't do anything for me like programming, drawing, or writing can. It doesn't feel productive. At best I have a good time playing a good game. At worst it makes me depressed because my commentary is boring and nobody else cares to watch – I honestly can't blame them!

I don't know if streaming is the major force behind this whole change, but I do think it is a major factor. It has caused me to waste a lot of time on unproductive things, but because it is relaxing and I didn't feel guilty for doing it – quite the opposite sometimes – it just slipped by and crept into my life more and more. And because I'm more relaxed I've been less volatile. I almost always streamed in the evenings, exactly during the times I'm usually most susceptible to mood swings. It really explains things quite nicely.

If this assessment is accurate, if it is true, then that means that I haven't grown at all as a person. I haven't learned to deal with my problems any better, and in fact I've only been dodging them all this time, simply sweeping them to the side along with my productivity. Now, to some this might be an acceptable trade. To some, less depression would be something to take at any cost. But for me, I'm not so sure at all.

The days that I feel really good about, exceedingly rare as they may be, have always been ones where I got a lot of good, solid work done. They have never been days where I didn't do something productive.

A lot of people that meet me online and see my profiles or whatever are initially impressed by my output. (This isn't me boasting, it's merely an observation I've made, though I do feel bad for writing it out anyway.) I, on the other hand, have never felt like I've been particularly productive at all. Sure, I've done things. I mash my keyboard and I scribble on my monitor, but that all doesn't really culminate in anything impressive. Put in another way, yes, I do produce things, but they're not really noteworthy or good, so it doesn't feel like I've been productive in the proper sense of the word. After all – slinging shit around you sure is doing things, but that shouldn't be taken as being productive. Maybe that's painting things a bit too extreme, but the point is that I don't feel any particular sense of accomplishment when I do work on things. This in turn means that the pressure to be productive doesn't really let up. I need to keep working on things or I'll start feeling really bad.

At this point I'm afraid I don't really know where I was going with my train of thought anymore. I think the crux of what I was trying to say is that there's a lot of very peculiar circumstances that drive me to produce as much output as I do. They all have very heavy downsides, the biggest of which is a large amount of pressure under which I occasionally crumble. But, I think this is all a large part of what makes me as a person. Trying to suppress this stuff by streaming games, or doing whatever else that keeps my mind off of it does lessen the immediate problems, but it also denies me a large part of what I feel is important.

This struggle between the two opposing views on how I should live my life – not stressing out, or keeping productive – is something I've been trying to work out for a long time. So far I have not found an answer, but I have always tended towards keeping the pressure up and taking the punches.

If there's anything at all that I'd like to have changed about me, it's not my stress about productivity, but my seemingly endless supply of envy. Envy gets to me much quicker and much harder than anything. Seeing someone do very well, when I'm struggling really hard, always gives me a punch to the gut. It's such a loathsome and despicable thing, too. I can't even congratulate people and be happy for what they've accomplished, no, my mind immediately makes it about myself and about why I'm not the one doing these great and amazing things. And of course, because I know how pathetic this is, and how stupid it is too, it's just an immediate spiral down to sad town from there.

Ahhhhhh. Hah.

Well, I have no idea where I was going with all this. It seems like I just spent a good two thousand words describing how I loathe myself and how knowing why only makes me loathe myself even more. I certainly have no idea how to deal with this mess. Any possible solution seems to have other penalties that I don't want to incur. I guess I'm just a bitter perfectionist to the end, even when it comes to my own disposition.

A bitter, lonely perfectionist.

But hey, at least I shit out some code every now and again and some (crazy) people seem to like that. So I guess that's good or something?

Bah, who even cares. I could go on with this entry forever, there's so many more stupid things that come to mind that I could write down, but I think this has been more than enough for tonight.

Hopefully I'll get some actually interesting article written again one day.

Written by shinmera