Tag Archives: Blogging

Self-Esteem Sucks: The Challenge of Self-Acceptance

My grand plan upon realizing I have self-esteem issues while reading The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden was to read the book, understand the book, and to internalize what it was saying. To take the book and make what it was staying part of my being. The more detailed plan was to go through each one of his pillars one-by-one and discover which ones I needed to work on. The book argues that self-esteem is constructed upon six “pillars” — fundamental areas that need to be developed for self-esteem to thrive — and that lacking strength in any pillar can weaken the entire foundation of self-esteem. It shouldn’t be too hard to go through each one logically and discover which ones were problematic for me.

I’m about half-way through the pillars and so far I’ve identified one area that I’m sorely lacking in: self-acceptance. The first pillar is living consciously and I’m pretty proud of myself in that area. Summing that one up in a terrible way: be aware of the moment you’re in. Be receptive of information. Be open and accepting of the world. Shit like that. The third pillar is of self-responsibility: you are responsible for yourself. There are certain people that love to blame others for their problems, and while other people can cause problems for you, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t your responsibility to fix. I’ve heard somewhere (with regards to mental health but it applies to everything) something like this, “It might not be your fault, but it’s your responsibility.” Consider this shitty scenario. You get a divorce and your ex has taken everything from you. It’s a shitty situation right? While you might be perfectly innocent in the matter, you still need to act in favor of yourself and your happiness. In short, you are responsible for you.

You might’ve noticed I skipped the second pillar and that’s because it is the topic of this post. The second pillar is self-acceptance. Upon initially reading the chapter I thought it would be another pillar to mostly ignore: I already accepted myself about as well as I knew how to. Seriously. This was mostly because the first half of the chapter talked mostly about accepting your flaws, which I’m assuming most people are terrible at because of how much the author had written about it. This covered things such as admitting when you’re wrong and admitting that you’re not perfect. Owning your flaws and mistakes. And guess what? I’m amazing at that! I’m constantly thinking I’m wrong (but also feeling that I’m probably right but not wanting to come across as cocky or something), I’m always open to critique, and so on. In short I am very open and accepting of my flaws.

But then the book totally beat the shit out of me over something that’s very similar to admitting your flaws: to be self-accepting is to also accept the good things about yourself. If you’re going to own all of the bad shit about yourself, you also need to accept the good things about yourself as well. This makes perfect sense if the goal is to have perfectly honest self-acceptance. And holy fuck if that didn’t hit me like a ton of bricks.

You don’t have to, but go check out my post about self-esteem and writing. I love to use that as my go-to example because it writhes in its lack of self-esteem. It’s so brutally honest it’s amazing to use as an example. In that post I wrote about how when I receive positive feedback with my writing it must be a fluke or a mistake like I accidentally wrote something good. Something about putting enough monkeys in a room with typewriters and eventually one will write Shakespeare. I attribute any and all success I achieve to luck or chance. But when my posts don’t get positive feedback it is something that resonates with me. Those are the facts for me, the clear signs that I’m a failure as a writer. It’s classic “disown the good” and “accept the bad” which is not accepting yourself fully and openly.

Self-acceptance means owning the shit out of the good. But that is scary to someone with little to no self-esteem. It’s easy to admit skill in areas that don’t matter: I’m good at driving, I’m good at hanging blinds, I’m a decent cook, but am I a decent writer? Really? Am I scared of being good? Yeah, kinda, but so what? What the hell am I writing for if not to be good? There is a disconnect between the blogger/writer who consistently writes but doesn’t actually think they’re good at it. If I thought I wasn’t good on some level why would I be writing in the first place? Most people don’t do thing that they know they’re awful at (besides golf for some reason). Something in me believes that I have something special otherwise I wouldn’t be writing. It’s only on the conscious (or subconscious?) level that I think I suck.

I rambled a bit, but apply this line of thinking to yourself. Are you perfectly accepting of your skills and abilities? Do you disown everything good you do as an accident or believe that “it wasn’t that difficult…”? Are you scared of actually being successful? And do you own, personify, and internalize your failures over your success? Are you defined by your flaws and shortcomings? You are one total and complete package — the good along with the bad — and they each need to be accepted together. Feel free to admit that you’re good at painting, writing, blogging, or whatever it is that you do. It doesn’t mean that you close yourself off to actual critique and criticism, but don’t let yourself become identified by your failures. Self-acceptance kinda sucks, until you learn to do it properly. And then I suppose it’s awesome.

(Fixing Your) Self-Esteem Sucks

I’ve been trying to churn out a meaningful post about something, anything for the past week. Sure I got out the therapy post, and the bullshit Halloween post, but those seem like more of the low-effort stuff that I try to stay away from. The problem isn’t that I don’t have anything to write about; the problem is that I have too much to write about. I’d say there are about 5-7 topics floating around in my head and they all seem interconnected and interweaved that I can’t write about one without it bleeding into the other topics. One rant would turn into another rant and eventually I fear I’d have a giant, rambly mess about a multitude of things without saying much about anything in particular.

I want to write about anxiety. I want to write about enlightenment. I want to write about impermanence and how I (we?) naturally despise impermanence. I want to write about video games and how they’re a form of avoidance. I want to write about drinking/not drinking. I want to write about depression. The challenge of seeing a therapist. I want to write about love, friendship, loss, and new beginnings. I want to write about life.

I also want to write about self-esteem. And I’m going to try to do that here. It is one of the interwoven topics tied to depression, drinking, and writing but seems to be the most separate topic that I might be able to make progress on. The fact is I’ve already written about self-esteem, but it was mostly in regards to writing. I have no self-esteem in regards to writing, nothing else, or so I thought. But once again things that are terribly obvious to everyone else can be a mystery to yourself as if the safest place to hide is within your own self-ignorance. I did have an idea though. I read through a few of my past posts: the self-esteem post, the Stardew Valley post, and a bunch of other posts pretending to be a detective looking for clue to the true state of my mind. It hit me hard when I realized it: I have zero self-esteem. It’s everywhere in my writings. Shit.

What I realized was that I could take my self-esteem post and slightly change it to be about any situation and it would fit. It accurately described how I felt about life in general if I just changed a few of the subjects. Here, here’s an example tweaked and edited to be about talking to people and making friends. It’s the exact same mindset though. Also note how the second paragraph needed minimal editing because shitting all over yourself is a pretty general thing to do.

Naturally, I started thinking I would fail from the start, which is a big red flag in terms of self-confidence that also should’ve been apparent. Surprisingly, after posting the first few chapters going out of my way to talk to people I had tons of positive feedback. I was shocked. Some people would ask me if they could be in my stories strike up a conversation with me. Others gave feedback in the form of blog/Facebook post likes and comments positive social cues such as laughing, smiling, and appearing at ease. I mean why would people like and comment act like that if they didn’t like the work fundamentally disliked me as a person? Would people really do that to feign support? And one of the best signs of not sucking was when one of my “fans” “friends” (she called herself that. I’d never call people who read my stuff “fans” talked to me a “friend” because I don’t know if they feel that way about me) mentioned to someone else that I was a good writer person. You don’t recommend stuff you hate to other people talk positively about people you hate to other people. Overwhelmed with actual positive feedback, I was set right? Free to write socialize with all the confidence I needed to push through chapter after chapter and finish a book conversation after conversation and have actual friends. It sounded like my plan was a soaring success.

OF FUCKING COURSE NOT! The plan was a miserable failure. What would happen was a wildly successful post conversation would be followed by a not-as-successful post conversation and instantly my brain would conjure up reasons for everything successful to be a fluke to be a lie. Just me getting lucky for some reason or another. No, success was never from actual skill. Failure is my natural state, and anything other than that is an accident. Maybe I just got lucky on the popular posts a few conversations? Maybe people wised up to the fact that I’m not really good at writing and all my chapters are kinda samey really a terrible and boring person and constantly talk about the same stuff. Maybe everyone dropped the facade of liking my stuff me because it was exhausting to do so.

So once you admit you lack self-esteem, then what? It’s not something you can go to the store and buy exactly.

Getting Help With Self-Esteem

Obviously seeing a therapist would probably help, but I’m still slacking with that matter at the moment. (It should be noted that I’d rather write a blog post instead of search for a therapist. It’s pretty fun when something you used to procrastinate doing becomes its own version of procrastinating something else. Productivity right?) Luckily my supervisor is the most intuitive person to ever exist. While struggling with my lack of self-esteem and the fact of it over the weekend, I went into work to be greeted by her handing me a book. The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden. Holy shit. Was it that obvious to everyone else? This situation sounds like something that would happen in a story or a movie where one of the characters is going through some shit and another character hands/tells him/her the exact thing they need to assist them in their problem. I’m not making this up either. It’s like the universe is trying to tell me something and is working directly through her. And who am I to gripe about how the universe does its shit? I lack self-esteem not intelligence. I can take the hint.

The introduction to the book stressed the importance of self-esteem and how it underlies everything about mental health. If you have self-esteem issues they’re likely to bleed into other areas and can attribute to anxiety, depression, substance abuse, etc. The book, not being too cocky about itself, also stressed that self-esteem isn’t a fix-all solution to every problem; there can be serious mental health issues in people with high self-esteem. Luckily for me, self-esteem does seem to be my main problem. It does seem like the fix-all for me, although I’m weary of falling into that mindset lest it be wrong. Even if it isn’t my main issue, it sure is up there in importance.

So for the past week I’ve made a dedicated effort to read the book, process what the book is saying, and to incorporate it into my life. And it’s been working wonderfully so far! There still does seem to be some underlying depression that exists outside of my self-esteem issues, but it’s far less threatening than how I’ve been feeling in the past month or two.

I was going to continue this post, but I think I should break things up. It’s just a really big topic. I’m writing a blog post here, not a fucking book. My “self-esteem journey” seems like it’ll be an interesting process and a few other posts might sprout out of the journey. Why try to cram it all here? In closing: I have self-esteem issues. These issues might be my main problem that needs to be fixed. I’m going to make a dedicated effort to improve my self-esteem. And you’re welcome to come along for the journey!

(A Lack of) Self-Esteem Sucks

When you first begin to write you learn a lot about yourself. Certain themes and plotlines seem to appear and I know it points to something within my subconscious. Sure you can purposefully have a theme to a story, but sometimes things just appear that makes you think “Why do I keep writing about that topic?” Another thing I’ve learned over the past few months is that I have little to no self-esteem and lack confidence in my writings. It is so damn clear to me now that I’ve wondered how I was in denial about it for so long. No matter what sort of feedback I get on my writing the truth is clear: In my mind I still suck at writing. And to me I’m horrible at it.

My grand plan (if you could call it that) was to post short stories and chapters on my old blog, which was repurposed for its new mission. The idea was to get some feedback on what I was writing and to snowball that into self-confidence going forward. If I had enough people — ya know like five or ten — tell me my stuff wasn’t total trash I would have enough validation to continue writing. Just a handful of support and I could channel that into pure confidence going forward. I could hold onto it as a cherished gift and always have this initial support to fall back on in times of need. I imagine the established author who has sold over a million books: this person will never run out of confidence because they have that shining badge that they can always look towards as proof that they’re actually good at what they do. A little feedback would serve to be my shining badge in a way. Or so I thought.

Naturally, I started thinking I would fail from the start, which is a big red flag in terms of self-confidence that also should’ve been apparent. Surprisingly, after posting the first few chapters I had tons of positive feedback. I was shocked. Some people would ask me if they could be in my stories. Others gave feedback in the form of blog/Facebook post likes and comments. I mean why would people like and comment if they didn’t like the work? Would people really do that to feign support? And one of the best signs of not sucking was when one of my “fans” (she called herself that. I’d never call people who read my stuff “fans”) mentioned to someone else that I was a good writer. You don’t recommend stuff you hate to other people. Overwhelmed with actual positive feedback, I was set right? Free to write with all the confidence I needed to push through chapter after chapter and finish a book. It sounded like my plan was a soaring success.

OF FUCKING COURSE NOT! The plan was a miserable failure. What would happen was a wildly successful post would be followed by a not-as-successful post and instantly my brain would conjure up reasons for everything successful to be a fluke. Just me getting lucky for some reason or another. No, success was never from actual skill. Failure is my natural state, and anything other than that is an accident. Maybe I just got lucky on the popular posts? Maybe people wised up to the fact that I’m not really good at writing and all my chapters are kinda samey? Maybe everyone dropped the facade of liking my stuff because it was exhausting to do so.

I try to be humble, but I feel walking the fine line between ego and being humble is difficult to do. I find myself erring on the side of caution by being humble and have always taken solace in that. Maybe I’ve gone too far? Maybe in trying to not be too cocky or egotistical, I’ve went to far in the opposite direction? Either way, being cocky and being confident two wildly different things. Is it that hard to be confident and humble? This doesn’t seem like a slippery slope to cockiness.

Just as an experiment, let me try to actually be confident for a moment, to try to weigh the positives and the negatives together. Once again, this isn’t meant to be a cocky “Haha, look at how good of a writer I am!” ego stroker. I just want to see if I can hype myself up for a few sentences. Maybe make a case for myself not being shit.

  • This blog has about 600 views per month. These views are growing. When I first started blogging I was happy to get 5 views in a month. This means I’m doing something right.
  • One of my college English instructors loved my papers, even using me as an example to the class a few times. She pointed out that I always asked questions as I wrote, kinda prompting the reader to think about things as well.
  • Another English instructor suggested I go into technical writing because my research paper was so goddamn awesome apparently.
  • I won two seperate writing awards in college. Not being a writer I decided to YOLO a few submissions and took third and second place. I won $50 from writing an essay about what college meant to me. I hammed that essay up so much. It was the first money I’ve earned from writing. The other award wasn’t very rewarding: I had to read that essay (about improving our community) aloud in front of like fifty people.
  • I’ve self-published two ebooks on Amazon (blog post about that mess here) that have netted me a whopping $0.11 $0.60 in royalty payments. Woah!
  • Someone mentioned that my writings sound very “conversational” as if I’m actually having a talk with someone. That’s good, right?
  • A few coworkers have used my posts as a springboard to their own thinking and writings (the enlightenment post) and have told me their own thoughts on it. That means they had to get something useful from it, right?
  • Lastly, the general positive feedback from people who have read my stuff.

So now why do I suck? Is there any concrete reasons to suspect sucking?

  • I’m not wildly successful. I haven’t sold thousands of books yet.
  • Other people’s blogs are more popular.
  • My past few chapters haven’t had any positive feedback on them.
  • And. That’s it.
  • This isn’t a long list…
  • *thinking very hard*
  • *shrugs*

(Big Note here on how my negative points arise from comparing myself to other people. I obviously know this is a mistake but do it anyways. Oof.)

Thinking about this as objectively as possible leads me to believe that, hey, maybe I don’t fucking suck at all. But my brain doesn’t work this way! Even after typing all of the positives I have to look back on I only felt better for about ten minutes before feeling awful again. Brains are emotional things, and I’m apparently an emotional person. None of this shit matters because somehow a thought randomly appears in my mind that makes me think I’m terrible at writing. It doesn’t even take negative feedback: my brain can tear itself down all on its own! It’s a superpower I didn’t want but am somehow stuck with.

So this isn’t such a whiny post, are there ways to have a little more confidence in regards to writing? Firstly I should probably not worry so much about viewers/likes/numbers. I’ve recently read a blog post stressing this same point. (Vee over at Millenium Life Crisis always has great and informative content.) Secondly, stop worrying about beating the mythical “other people” because all that matters is your own progress. Maybe I can internalize that if I try hard enough. Another thing that sort of helps seems to be reflecting on the past; those 600 views a month sure mean something, and if I put myself in my past frame-of-mind I find myself thankful and proud of the progress I’ve made. Lastly, just keep writing! Even if I do feel like I suck, that doesn’t mean I have to give up. Ya know, progress forward just to make progress.

Closing Note: If it wasn’t obvious, I’m not trying to farm approval or validation with this post. If that isn’t clear I fucked up somewhere. The point wasn’t to whine until people came to support me, but to point out the clear issue of me lacking confidence. It’s a problem I really need to work on. If you did like this post, great! I won’t turn down feedback in any form. But I’m not trying to get a pity-party going on here either.

Writing Kinda Sucks

“…I’ve always considered writing the most hateful kind of work.”

Hunter S. Thompson

I think when we pick up any new hobby or interest we only see the positives. We see the glory of it — the big picture of it all. As a painter you imagine relaxing at home and just creating beautiful artwork. Or the pianist sitting at their instrument creating interesting and wonderful music. Or the author, bringing magical worlds to life that only exist on paper and in the imagination of your readers. You dream of actually making it by publishing your books, selling your artwork, or ending up in a successful band, etc. When we undertake a new goal or hobby we rightfully only see the good because it’s where we want to be in our lives. But to get to the good you have to toil away with the total bullshit that no one talks about.

Prospective writers and authors also have their own fantasy: sitting at a desk with a cup of coffee and a dog in the corner/cat in your lap while you let your imagination run wild with ideas that you effortlessly slap down on paper/PC/typewriter/whatever the fuck you’re using. Anyone who has even attempted writing will instantly know this is bullshit. No one idolizes the times where you’re staring at your computer at 11 p.m. and while wanting to write something realizing that you have no idea for what to actually write. Or maybe you have an idea but it doesn’t come out right and you can’t get into a flow. There’s also the opposite problem like with me right now: awake at 2 a.m. suddenly finding yourself inspired to write a blog post about writing. The idea just appears out of the ether and you gotta grab the inspiration before it disappears.

I always thought writing was easy. It’s not that it’s hard like math is hard; it’s a different sort of difficult. I was always the type of person to procrastinate school papers until the night before they were due and knocked them out in a few hours of furious typing; I’d always get good grades by doing this too. Maybe this is where I got the “writing is easy” idea from, and I know for a fact it’s where I got my dreadful procrastination from. (Why plan anything out when you can knock it out in a few frightful hours?!) But writing isn’t easy. Let me walk you through a typical writing process for me. I’m assuming everyone else has similar issues and the more we write the more we learn to manage and minimize these pain-in-the-ass traits that writing entails.

Inspiration

This sounds stupid, but you need to have something to write about before you write. You need a story idea or a blog post idea or something. Once again this was never a problem in high school or college when people told you what to write. Now that you’re doing this on your own you need to figure out your own ideas. These ideas almost have to accidentally come to you and this is frustrating, especially in regards to blogging. We all know that frequently posting is a good idea, but you also need ideas for your posts. You end up torn between spam-posting low quality stuff day-after-day or postponing things for so long that you appear to be unreliable. It’s a pain in the ass.

It’s even worse for fiction writing as you need to conjure up characters, a plot, themes, and whatever else, and as I mentioned earlier you can’t seem to force this part. You can’t sit down and force yourself to write a good story with no plot in mind. You have to sit around and brainstorm and hope something good comes along. Even so, this isn’t an invitation to procrastinate in terms of perfection: you still need to get off your ass and write! It sounds contradictory huh?

The Writing

After you have an idea you can get to work on it. This is the actual fun part of writing where you can let your ideas run wild. Writing is the transformation of ideas into concrete words and sentences that other people can enjoy. It’s timeless and romantic and amazing to do when you get in the zone. You’re literally creating new worlds that have never been created! Bringing into existence people, creatures, and things that have never existed outside of your mind! It’s amazing! Sometimes you start typing and are surprised with what you’ve written, as if the ideas materialized out of thin air. What you write might be fantastically good, or shine light on some subconscious workings of your mind that you’re not even aware of. It’s this part of writing that is the most addictive. This is what I love about writing.

The Editing

For fucks sake this part is awful. I worked for hours day-after-day to finally edit my two ebooks and it wasn’t enjoyable at all. This is the part of the writing process where you take your random, rough, and rambling writings and clean the things up. You’re hunting around for grammatical errors, factual errors, spelling errors, and any other errors imaginable. For fictional stories you’re also making sure the characters’ names and jobs are consistent and that everything makes sense. I realized in one one of my stories that a character was terribly inconsistent in two of the chapters he’s in and it’s something that needs to be fixed. Sometimes you need to move paragraphs and chapters around or even delete the damn things. Sometimes you find irrelevant trash that you have no idea how it ended up in the work in the first place. Chapters about nothing in particular. This step is tedious, boring, time consuming and all around awful.

The End

Somehow if you pull all of this shit together you will have a finished product, be it a story, a novel, a blog post, or even a fancy self-help instructional guide. Whatever. And this is what makes it all worth it I suppose. When you can feel good for sitting through some not-very-fun bullshit to actually create something. When you’ve suffered through all of the difficult and tedious shit long enough to have something to show to others and something that you can be proud of. It doesn’t even matter if what you’ve created is trash because at least you’ve created something. How many countless others have wanted to create something but never got around to doing so? How many people fail before they even start?

But Not the End

Oh yeah, even once you have a finished product on your hands you’re still not finished with the process yet. The more I’ve been writing the more I’ve realized about the other shitty demon involved with trying to be an author: self-promotion. I’m also terrible at it. The fact is even if you wrote a masterpiece no one will buy it or even know about it if you don’t promote yourself. This involves goofy terms like “networking” and “advertising” and “getting yourself out there” and a few other nebulous terms that I despise while not being able to think of them right this moment. Let’s not forget the bloggers’ “SEO” stuff too!

As a side rant I’ve seen this problem mostly with MLM-Facebookers trying to pedal their wraps, diet pills, CBD oils, etc. These people try to sell products to their friends and family first without realizing that they can’t limp by selling products only to them. It’s the same with being an author: even if you have five or ten friends/family that love your writings they cannot support you completely. You can’t be a successful artist if only those people are purchasing your products. You need to branch out and find other customers!

I also think this is antithetical the the stereotypical writer as well, at least for me it is: I’m a person that likes to stay inside my head and someone who has confidence issues. A classic introvert I am. I really do think my writing isn’t good enough for people to actually want to read and am constantly surprised when I hear positive feedback on it. Obviously I’m terrible at self-promotion. It always comes across as begging or cringy when I try to get new people to read my writings. It’s hard to do. I wish I could ignore the self-promotion aspect of writing but it seems to go hand in hand with it. You simply can’t git gud at writing where everyone magically loves you. You need to put yourself out there for people to find you in the first place.

As a general closing note here: writing generally takes a long time! It takes much longer than you’d expect it to take. Consider this blog post: it’s only about twelve paragraphs long so take a guess how long I worked on it? I wrote it in 20 or 30 minutes, and have been editing/proofreading it for about an hour and a half (!!!). I also need to add tags to it, make a banner for it, proofread it again and then post it. In total I’d say this post — which is a total low-effort “quick” post — took a total of two to three hours from start to finish. Writing kinda sucks.

Hotel Rooms Suck

I’m currently out of town and sitting around totally bored in a hotel room. I really don’t want to write a blog post or anything but there is literally nothing else to do so why not try to be productive? After this I’ll probably try to work on some stories or something. While I don’t exactly know where this post is headed I’m going to write it anyways. This has never before been attempted on the Everything Sucks blog!

It’s already uncomfortable enough being in a city that you’ve never been in. In this case it’s Waterloo, Iowa (yay…). And it’s also discomforting knowing that the city you’re currently in which you’ve never been in before is also exactly the same as nearly every other city you’ve been in. Even though you’ve drive hundreds — even thousands of miles — across the wide open expanses of the United State of America, you always find yourself in the exact same places that you’ve already been. Our current hotel is situated less than a mile from a mall, a Target, a CVS, a handful of other hotels, a handful of gas stations, and a handful of restaurants. You already know those too: Applebees, Olive Garden, Burger King, McDonalds, Arbys, and so on.

This is America. Seriously. Zoom in on any city and its “business section” and you’ll find the same general theme of businesses. Coast to fucking coast…

My point here is that while being holed up in a hotel room is boring, you also can’t go outside and find anything else that isn’t boring. There’s no culture to explore and discover. This city is the same city I live in even if it has a different name. The streets have different names and everything is laid out differently but it’s the exact same city I’m used too: there just isn’t anything new out there and it’s not like I’m in a different country or anything. For all purposes Iowa and Illinois are exactly the same thing. No new and exciting accents, geography, or anything. Not even a new time zone.

Hotel rooms are fit nicely into this because they’re all exactly the same too. Each room of a hotel is superficially the same layout, even if one room is a mirror image of the room next to it. Each room has a shower, bed, sink, a bunch of mirrors (to make the room look bigger I’m assuming), and usually a table or a desk with a “work chair” or something like that. These rooms are cookie-cutter rooms that you’re just meant to sleep in because there isn’t much else you can do in them. Besides type bored blog posts that is.

Work in progress on “The Work Desk” feature of every hotel room.

They’re also surprisingly devoid of life as well. When you go into people’s houses or rooms they each have their own design, layout, and unique smells. People usually have their belongings/clothes/artwork/pictures/junk around that makes these places feel “lived in” and alive. Hotel rooms feel clinically clean and totally devoid of life even if they are, microbally, diverse and thriving (eww). It’s strange because the room I’m in has also been lived in by countless other people over the years and I don’t even want to think about how many babies were conceived and how many STDs were contracted on the mattress I’m laying on right now. But even knowing the amount of people and “stuff” that has actually occurred where I’m at there are no signs of anything really. It’s as clean and bland as a doctor’s waiting room. Hell, even more so as our room doesn’t have the classic “doctor’s office artwork” on the walls. A hotel room is probably the blandest living space you can find in our society.

I’m also staying at a fucking Motel 6 which is about as bottom of the barrel as you can get in terms of lodging. This is partly due to procrastinating the reservation as well as being fucking cheap. I’m notoriously cheap! A hotel room is just a place to sleep when you’re away from town and I’m not trying to stay at a place with a “fitness room” or a place that offers a “free continental breakfast” which I’m never awake in time to attend anyways. A room is a room and a bed is a bed and so be it. Anyways, Motel 6 is stupidly cheap and you can tell this from the room I’m in: this place isn’t trying to lie about its cheapness or to pamper you at all. Hell, it doesn’t even have a coffee maker which I’ve assumed was standard in all hotel rooms. This makes the room feel even more “hotely” than usual, once again pointing to the lack of stereotypical “hotel art” on the walls. These walls are bare: there is literally nothing on them besides the white and brownish-orange paint on the walls.

Next to our cheap Motel 6 is a Holiday Inn Express, and while not a 5-star place itself it is much higher up on the hotel food-chain than our Motel 6 is (Their rooms are around $90 per night while ours were around $70). In fact the building itself is higher up with its four floors overlooking our paltry two floors. Sometimes I will look out the window and see curious Holiday Inners curiously glancing out — and downwards, metaphorically and physically — into our Motel 6 rooms. And hey, I’m looking right back at them as well, a kinda passive curiosity exchanged between us. I ask in my imagination to them, “Hello, fellow traveler, what exactly are you doing in Waterloo, Iowa of all places? Are you on a business trip or are you on vacation with your family? Is this hellhole your actual destination or are you headed for more elaborate locations in the USA? Are you stopping for the night on a long journey to the West Coast or are you heading out East? Perhaps to see New York or Washington? Niagara Falls? Or maybe the Grand Canyon?” Then again maybe the man looking down on me from over there is just picking up a prostitute for the night. Who knows. I’m imaging them wondering the same thing about me as well: Who is this guy sitting in a rolly-chair with a hat on at 8 p.m.? Why is he rolling around in his hotel room in said chair? Why does he look angry? And what is he typing on his computer and why is he taking pictures of his hotel room? And why the fuck does he keep looking up at me and then typing something on his computer?

(Note: I also doubt that anyone is staying in Waterloo during a transcontinental adventure. Waterloo, IA doesn’t even have a giant interstate running through connecting anything important. 380 connectes Cedar Rapids to Waterloo but doesn’t really do much other than that. Why anyone is here is anyone’s guess.)

I’m new to staying in hotel rooms and usually only deal with them for the rare vacation and then only for a few days at most. I’m imaging the people who stay in these lifeless boxes frequently, like pilots, business travelers, musicians, etc. and I wonder what the hell they think of these places. I don’t even know what jobs require you to frequent these bland, all-the-same-but-kinda-different rooms and buildings, but it almost seems like it would be draining in a way. Like if you stay in these rooms for too long you go crazy. I’m thinking like the movie Fight Club or in the Stephen King stories 1408 or The Shining where the hotel room/hotel itself is haunted. Hotel rooms seem to have some mystery to them simply because they’ve been around for so long and have had so many people stay in them. Over time there’s bound to be something crazy happen in them. But maybe that’s the wrong outlook and that some people find these rooms comforting in a way. As all the rooms are the same I could seem them turing into “home” for the frequent traveler; a little slice of comfort and familiarity to come home to in the total blandness of them. Like if you stay in bland and drab rooms long enough you start to find them comforting in a way. Like you find yourself used to and comforted by the neutered lamp-on-desk, undecorated white walls, and wrapped up single-ply toilet papers. The white, undecorated towels. Not to mention the little shampoo bottles as well! As for me, luckily they’re only boring, even if they are intensely boring. I’m just trying to pass the time here. I’m not returning to just another hotel room on a month’s long job assignment, nor am I terrified that the room is haunted or that I’m losing my mind. Maybe boring isn’t so bad after all.

Drinking Sucks: 10 Reasons to Not be a Drunkard

Lists of ten, top-ten lists, or whatever you want to call them kinda suck in their own right, but I want to write one anyways. It seems fun, clickbaity, and will be a challenge putting together ten individual items to discuss here. Since my slew of vacations and my mental meltdown I’ve had one hell of a time with alcohol, and in a way I think I’m writing this post mostly for myself to get back on track. So what better way to make a “top 10 list” than to bitch about alcohol abuse. So I hereby present to you ten reasons to quit drinking!

10. Save Money $$$

The best motivation to do almost anything is to make money/save money; it’s the driving force behind everything in a capitalist society. Despite this, I put saving money as far down the list as possible. This is due to a few reasons. Firstly, people don’t change addictions based on cash savings; no one would smoke, drink, or shoot heroin if this was true. Addiction is one of the few things that exist outside the motivation to make/save money. Secondly, alcohol is actually pretty cheap! Smoking a pack a day will leave you out literal thousands of dollars in a year. If you are an alcoholic you simply won’t save a ton of money by quitting. The benefit it in everything else.

While alcohol is cheap (and probably the cheapest of any substance addiction you can have) it still isn’t free. Even if you won’t save as much as a heroin-addict would by getting clean, you still are saving a bunch of cash. Consider a six-pack, three-days-a-week sort of drunk: a cheap six-pack can cost about $5 (if you’re not buying utter trash beer that is). This would be $15 a week, or about $800 every year! If you drink every day of the week this cost obviously doubles to well over $1,500. While saving money shouldn’t be your primary reason to not drink, it also shouldn’t be forgotten.

9. Not Be Hungover

Anyone who has drank moderately/heavily in a single sitting should be familiar with the dreaded hangover. I don’t need to explain it too much because if you’re reading this you’re probably familiar with the symptoms: the dehydration, dry mouth, rapid heart rate, anxiety, jitteriness, hunger, nausea, lethargy, light sensitivity, and the pounding headache. I mean what else can be said of the hangover? Sometimes I find music sounds better when hungover, but besides that they’re fucking miserable and horrid affairs. Obviously if you don’t drink, you don’t deal with a hangover.

8. Eat Better/Lose Weight

A serving of alcohol (can of beer, shot of liquor, glass of wine, 5 pumps of hand sanitizer, etc.) has some calorie content to it. This varies greatly, but the fact is that alcohol itself has calories means there is no “diet alcohol” or whatever you’d want to call it. By simply drinking you’re consuming extra calories than you normally would. Consider that a shot of vodka has about 70 calories: six of them would have 420 calories! This isn’t a whole lot but it’s the bare minimum you can get drunk from. A can of beer has over 100 calories (usually) and anything with added sugar is even worse. The fact is if you’re an alcoholic you’re probably consuming a fuckton of calories and probably packing on weight. The term “beer belly” has reasons behind it.

This is considering that you’re not exercising or lowering the amount of food you actually eat. If you’re drinking heavily it probably means that you’re not exercising or taking good care of yourself: in fact I’d assume you’d probably be eating horribly! Everyone knows alcohol, greasy burgers, and fried foods fit together perfectly (shout out to pizza here) and the alcoholic isn’t usually stereotyped as deeply athletic. This stresses the point even further: if you’re an alcoholic you’re probably also getting fatter. So if you quit drinking you might lose weight.

7. Sleep Better

While alcohol can knock your ass out in heavy doses, it doesn’t seem to give you a good night’s rest. Even if you pass out drunk and are unconscious for eight hours you’ll wake up feeling like you only had an hour-long nap. While this might not be detrimental here and there, dragging this shit out for weeks and months of fully-fledged alcoholism, you will end up feeling like shit. Even though you’re sleeping enough your body simply isn’t repairing itself and recovering like it is supposed to. By not drinking, you just rest better and feel better during the day.

6. Stave off Insomnia

This is probably a subset of what I talked about in number seven (sleeping better), but fuck you because this is my top ten list. I can break it down into as many or as few sections as I want! I separated them not only to add more numbers to this top-ten list bullshit, but because insomnia usually occurs a few days after bingeing. Since your sleep quality is trash when you’ve been drinking, when you stop you do get a few days where you’re so tired and worn out that you sleep really well. I’m talking nights where you sleep 10-12 hours and wake up feeling energized and refreshed.

The problem occurs after those restful days. I think, and I don’t really know for sure, this is due to alcohol being a depressant and “slowing your body down” or something. The human body adapts, or tires to adapt, to things; if you’re drinking a depressant your body “upregulates” everything to keep you moving. It’s like the reverse of drinking caffeine, a sort of “inverse crash” or whatever. As your body finds itself without alcohol, you find yourself “upregulated” and your mind just constantly keeps running, especially at night. This is especially bad because you might turn to drinking just to sleep normally. Another downside to insomnia is that you’d think if you couldn’t sleep you’d be awake, but you’re not. Alcohol insomnia leaves you tired, exhausted, and unable to sleep. It sucks.

5. Have a Better Memory/Focus

Drinking puts you into a haze while sobriety clears things up. If you drink a lot, you’re basically entering and exiting hazes daily (or whatever) and this makes reality get kinda…confusing. You start to forget what you were actually doing in regards to life planning/projects you’re taking care of. Take writing a book for example: you need to remember what the hell you were actually writing about to make progress at it in the future. I, like many others, have found that drinking greatly improved my ability to write at the expense of having no idea what I had actually written. This leaves you feeling lost in the grand scheme of whatever you got going on. It becomes hard to tie thoughts together into a coherent project.

I’ve also realized that I’d forget what I’ve talked to people about even if I was sober at the time. Like I’d tell a coworker a story and repeat the story days later without remembering initially telling them. I found myself prefacing every conversation with, “Not sure if I told you this before, but…” just to acknowledge that I was at least aware that I might be repeating myself.

This is related to drinking but I don’t know how to explain its direct relationship to it. Obviously you forget shit when you’re actually drinking, but a general effect on memory seems to exist and is especially scary. Everyone expects to forget shit when drinking, but when this effect spills over into the weeks after drinking it is especially frightening. Quit drinking and you might have a better memory and won’t feel like you’re on the verge of Alzheimer’s.

4. Have Better Teeth

I don’t know if this is really a thing, but whenever I’d go to the dentist for a routine six-month cleaning they’d always ask me if I drank a lot of pop. I’d always say “no” and they’d give me a look of complete and total skepticism. The dentist and the hygenist know exactly what the effects of sugar look like on teeth so they’re the last people you want to lie to about what you actually drink, but fact is fact: I didn’t drink pop hardly at all. I’d have a can of pop once a week, maybe twice, but this wasn’t nearly enough to cause dental trouble. And I’d brush everyday! What the hell was going on here? Why were they looking at me suspiciously like I was telling a lie?

It might be alcohol. As we know, alcoholic drinks have sugar and starches and whatever else and this can’t be good on your teeth in heavy amounts. This is another one of these “I don’t know this for a fact but I assume it’s true” things: drinking probably fucks your teeth up just as much (if not more) as heavily-sugared sodas do. I did tell the dentist/hygienist that I did drink a lot of beer but that I didn’t, in fact, drink soda ever. I mean if they’re going to accuse me of dietary habits that were fucking my teeth up they need to at least get it correct: beer was fucking my teeth up.

3. Anxiety

I was sober for a span of 5 months this year, and holy hell, I didn’t have any anxiety. I mean there was still a background level of anxiety, but it was nothing like the physically-shaking-before-going-to-work style of anxiety that I was used to. This was surprising because being a total alcoholic lead me to believe that maybe I just had anxiety that badly naturally. Sobriety made the anxiety just disappear. It was a slow and easy-to-miss process, but after a few months I’d find myself not worrying as much about stressful upcoming events. I’d still be stressed and worried, but for some reason this didn’t translate into anxiety. You might drink to help relieve your anxiety, but in reality it is probably making it worse. By not drinking you might find that your anxiety slowly vanishes, or turns into something manageable.

2. Motivation

I like to think alcohol works by moving happiness from one point of your life to another, usually from the next day to the present. You drink and you feel better, but you pay for it the next day by feeling miserable. This “sum of happiness” never changes but it’s just shifted around and isn’t a scientifically quantifiable amount at all, but it makes some sense I guess. I think this happens with motivation too.

Drinking for me gets my ass in gear. I love drinking on the weekends and doing dishes, cleaning the house, work on blog posts and stories, and generally just knocking out projects I need to do. The problem occurs the following day when I seemingly moved motivation to the previous day: I’m lazy, uninspired, and don’t want to do a damn thing. This can obviously lead to problems where you drink just to get your motivation back and this snowballs quickly into alcoholism.

By not drinking you can have motivation!

1. Not be Depressed

This one is very similar to #3 (anxiety) in that drinking probably makes a problem worse that you’re trying to cure in the first place by drinking. I think many people have a sort of “background level” of depression and if a notably shitty day happens, they drink to make themselves feel better. But like with anxiety, you end up shooting yourself in the foot because over time drinking just makes you even more depressed where you need more alcohol to feel better. And so on.

And like anxiety it’s hard to notice it happening. Over months and years of periodic drinking you accept your current depressed state as just how things are, and that not drinking can make things worse for you, and even make you feel suicidal. It’s this that keeps drinker hooked and coming back for more with almost zero choice in the matter. While it’s true things usually get worse when you initially stop drinking, hanging in there can prove beneficial.

Months after not drinking your mood is just lighter and you feel better. And like anxiety, it’s hard to realize this and one day you discover that your perpetual depression has just kinda melted away. You stop thinking that people hate you and are trying to avoid you or that everyone talks bad about you behind your back. You stop feeling bad for the shitty state of your life, and with no alcohol to feed the self-doubt and self-hatred, you find yourself making progress towards improving things. I know this might not be true for everyone, but after not drinking I have found zero downside and all upsides to it. And when you find yourself in the clear you wonder why you tortured yourself for so long, because sometimes you realize that life isn’t too bad and in some ways it’s downright enjoyable.

So if you’re a drunkard, maybe consider these ten items and maybe attempt sobriety. It’ll take some effort and it won’t be easy, but usually immensely beneficial things take time and effort and this is certainly one of them. Drinking sucks.

The “Valley of Despair” Sucks

I sometimes frequent the blogging subreddit, but not too frequently. The sub seems to focus mostly on increasing viewers, finding topics to write about, and doesn’t seem too concerned with the “art” of blogging. It isn’t too active of a sub with most posts getting at most between 20 to 30 comments. Compared to some subreddits (like the famed r/wallstreetbets) it isn’t really active even if you can find some decent information from time to time.

I still check it out sometimes and one comment resonated with me this past week. The actual discussion was about how many blogs actually “make it.” (which is an unexplained victory condition: what the hell does “making it” blogging mean? Make money? Keep it running for more than two years? I mean eventually you’ll die and your blog will end but that doesn’t seem like you’ve “failed at it.” Anyways, /rant #1.) There were varying answers but the one that stuck with me was one that mentioned “the valley of despair.” [Big Fucking Note here: I went and found the thread I was alluding too and the poster in question referred to it as “the dip” and linked to blog describing “the dip.” I really have no idea how I came upon the term “valley of despair” in regards to blogging, but apparently the term is real. Who fucking knows. Maybe my mind just connects dots on its own and doesn’t notify me that it’s doing so. Or maybe I’m losing my damn mind. I just wanted to stay accurate with what I’m actually writing.] I didn’t officially know what the hell the valley of despair was but something in the back of my mind knew it too well. Even if it wasn’t explained to me I already knew exactly what it was.

I suppose it’s easy to see in retrospect, as everything is. This blog right here had a “dead period” (actually two of them) not too long ago and since I’ve gotten my act together I’m finding some success. It feels like I’ve hit a stride where all I need to do is to keep working at the blog and it’ll be successful. I’m quietly confident about it and while I don’t think it’ll ever be a super-popular monetized thing I know it won’t be a “dead blog.” Looking back at those dead periods when I wasn’t writing, wasn’t posting, and felt about deleting the damn thing was, obviously, the dreaded valley of despair. And according to that one resonating Reddit comment, is the primary obstacle to successful blogging.

I didn’t want to make this post about blogging though because I’m in a new valley of despair in another area of my life: creative writing. To sum it up quickly, me, lost without any major goals, decided to take up creative writing about three weeks ago. I attempted this years ago and just didn’t stick with it, but this time it’s different. (Really. I’m fucking sticking to it this time.) I took my old blog and started collecting some short stories and chapters to a “book,” made a Facebook author’s page for myself, and started posting and sharing my work (please go check these out if you’re interested). Initially I was met with some warm reception from a few friends and, holy fuck, I was actually doing it! I was going to be Jeremy the Author Guy and sell books and shit. I was riding the wave and on top of the world was king of the world.

It’s funny what two weeks can do to you though. My last few “chapters” haven’t had shit for readers/viewers/likes/feedback at all, and I’m fundamentally wondering if I’m actually cut out to be a writer. Do I even have that “gift” that creative writing requires. (It doesn’t. I’m convinced, logically, that all anything takes is hard work and “talent” is just some bullshit idea people who don’t want to do hard work use as an excuse to not try anything. /rant #2.) Even if I know in my mind that it’s just hard work and dedication, I still feel in my heart there is some vague thing called “talent” that I might not have and will never have it even if I don’t believe it. It’s like some festering, subconscious fear I have, like being scared of the dark knowing well you’re perfectly safe. Hell, and maybe my stories are just terrible. This is a really scary thought because if they were no one would say it out of kindness. I’d like to really know how bad I am so I can either 1. give the fuck up or 2. know what I’m bad at exactly so I can improve on it. But pestering friends and family to read your shit is a whole new level of cringe that just comes across as attention seeking. BUT I JUST WANT FEEDBACK GUYS.

Let’s define this a little bit more though as it makes total sense with writing/blogging/whatever new project you’ve started. Some uninspired Googling has given me a bunch of charts and websites talking about “emotional change” and while that isn’t exactly what starting a project is, I think it’s close enough to actually be the same thing. Like maybe starting a new project is a subset of “emotional change” as you’re adjusting to having an entire new part of your life you’re dedicated to. There also is apparently a Dunning-Kruger valley of despair, but that doesn’t seem to be relevant to the topic at hand.

Since I couldn’t find a site that seemed legit or non-clickbaity enough, I just screencapped everything Google tossed at me. As you can see most charts show the same sort of trend when faced with “change.” It’s kinda like a sine curve or something.

Close enough, right?

And then I went and drew my own so I can talk about each point I labeled, as well as not get any sort of copyright bullshit tossed at me.

Current Mood vs. XP Points Gained at your “project” or whatever you’re doing. It seemed general enough.
  1. This is usually called “uninformed optimism” or some shit like that. Basically this is the point where you’re high off actually making a decision to progress forward at something. You have a goal that you’ve set upon and you start working towards it. Actually doing work towards a goal feels fucking amazing and even if you’re scared of the future, at least you’re taking matters into your own hands.
  2. This is the start of the valley of despair also called something lame like “informed pessimism.” This is where you realize that your goal isn’t going to be all fun and games and that, holy hell, sometimes doing a glorious and noble task like writing a book is actually not that fun sometimes. And sometimes it’s actual work that you dread.
  3. The pit of the valley of despair. I think with creative writing I’m somewhere between #2 and #3 (although I’d like to be closer to #3 so I can actually get over feeling awful about it. I don’t even know how to explain this spot on the chart because it’s like an unexplainable pit in your stomach. It’s a total feeling of shit, like you’re not meant or cut out to do what you’ve set out to do. Like the universe itself doesn’t want you as an author/blogger/artist/whatever. It makes you want to quit and many people do give up their project in this phase. The project feels like a mistake: a mistake that you continue to put time, effort, and resources towards that also feels like a waste of all of these. The general feeling of being shit is also kinda shitty. There doesn’t seem to be a way forward and you’re not happy doing what you’re doing. It’s a feeling of being lost and of wanting to toss the towel in and give up.
  4. “Informed optimism.” After hard work and giving up all hope you find some success but you’re not letting that shit go to your head because you think you still fucking suck at what you’re doing, but there are clear signs of progress if you quit being pessimistic enough to notice them. I like to think you make progress continually at this stage because of giving up in the valley of despair. You simply don’t care if you make it or not and your project just becomes something you do without attachment anymore. There’s something very freeing about not giving a shit, and this allows you to do what you do in the most genuine way possible. I say this so clearly because this blog right here is at #4 I think. I don’t give a fuck if no one reads it or if I fail, and contrary to what you’d expect, I’m actually have some success with it.
  5. Success! (whatever that actually means) I don’t even want to get into this because I don’t know what it’s like to be at #5. I’m assuming this is the point where you feel confident at what you’re doing — a quiet confidence that isn’t cocky — and your project has become a facet of who you are and part of your life. You accomplish things in a determined but carefree manner. I get this impression when I visit successful and mature blogs as well as many YouTube channels. Like go watch a newer SmarterEveryDay video and tell me Destin isn’t at #5 on this chart. That man is in the zone doing what he’s doing and he’s confident and enthusiastic with what he’s doing.

“Hey Black Haired Guy, got any tips for us bloggers/writers weathering the storm in the valley of despair?” No, no I do not because, like I said, I’m not at #5 so don’t think I am qualified to give tips and am kinda hoping for tips myself. But if anything (and maybe to just get myself fucking hyped the fuck up to continue on creatively writing) don’t give up! Because what else are you supposed to do besides not give up? If you give up in the valley of despair you’re fucking giving up. The whole thing this chart hints at is the fact that success might just be making it through the valley in the first place. Like maybe this is where the 80 or 90% of blogs that “don’t make it” go to die; what if the valley of despair is just the great filter between you and success? I just don’t see what you’d gain by giving up because giving up is giving up!

Being slightly more specific maybe I do have more ways to get myself siked up more tips for those in the valley of despair. Make small bits of progress: a book isn’t going to write itself in a few days and a blog won’t be successful in the first few months or years. Take things one tiny bit at a time. Write a chapter every two days or post a blog post every few days or every week. Maybe make a schedule and hold yourself to it like it’s a job? Try to summon memories from when you first started and we’re enthusiastic about your dream/goal. Find that passion that surely still lives deep within you. And if you’re really lost? Write down a plan. Writing seems to be a large part in marketing yourself so try doing that for some possible success. Ask people to read and critique your writings and learn from it. Or, to sum up what I said before: don’t fucking give up!