I spend a great deal of time reliving the past. Or, rather, rewriting it. When I can’t fall asleep at night, I imagine what I would do differently if I suddenly woke up in my childhood bed at the age of nine years old, knowing everything I know now.
My social skills as a child were sorely lacking, and as a result I look back with almost complete embarrassment at my weirdness, awkwardness, and desperation to fit in. I live in constant fear of running into someone who knew me as a child and having to apologize for what I did or who I was back then. I’m sorry you had to see me make a fool of myself. I’m sorry for the lies I told in a desperate bid to feel interesting. I’m sorry for the horrible things you heard me say when I was trying to win someone else’s approval. I’m sorry for some stupid things I was still doing years later because my obsessive brain wouldn’t let me forget how badly I wanted to be your friend… or even on your radar.
(I also wonder — now that I’m fully aware of my mental health issues and the bias with which I’ve always viewed events — how things actually happened as compared to how I remember them. Was I really as much of an outcast as I thought, or was I just a little bit awkward sometimes, and my pessimism and all-or-nothing thinking blew it all out of proportion? I remember saying once that I didn’t have any friends, and having one girl look over at me, obviously hurt. A few years ago I apologized to a girl who I remember bullying as a child, but she didn’t remember me as a bully; she had thought I was funny. Would I be able to stop obsessing over my childhood relationships if I were remembering them the way they actually happened? Were they really bad enough to require a rewrite?)
When I get to my high school years, my revisions are more about simply being there. I skipped a lot of classes, but rather than using that free time to hang out with my friends, more often than not I simply went home to be by myself. When I rewrite those years, I just wish I’d spent more time actually living them. There are still a few bone-headed things I said or did simply for social approval, but I can usually cope with those memories easily enough by jamming my face into a pillow for a few seconds and calling myself an idiot. I don’t wish to undo, I just wish I’d done more.
By the time I get to my university memories, I’m usually fine with how things went down. It would be nice if the mental health issues hadn’t been, well, “issues” at the time, and I lost some friends I wish I’d kept while keeping a few I should have lost (and of course my poor financial decisions, since I’m still paying the interest on most of them), but I don’t look back with regret on wasted opportunities to make memories, or outright horror and shame at the ones I made (with one or two exceptions, which are, amusingly enough, related to my childhood anyway).
College, Toronto… yeah, man. I’ve made my peace.
Kinda looks like steady improvement, right? Well…
Recently I’ve been living my life in a way which I know I’ll want to rewrite later. The decisions that I’m making, the things I’m doing with my time — I don’t need a decade of hindsight to know that I’ll wish I’d taken better advantage of these weeks and months when I look back on them later. I’m wishing that now.
Of course, it’s all easier said than done. Knowing I want to be more productive with my time doesn’t make me eager to jump out of a comfortable bed in the morning. The weight of my lack of accomplishment doesn’t pull me away from Netflix any quicker. And of course, knowing that I’m attracted to That Boy hasn’t made me any more adept at making time with him.
I’ve fallen into a rut, and the walls are steep and high. I’ve been stuck in it for so long that I’ve arranged the furniture and acquired objets d’art to make it homey and comfortable. Too comfortable, in fact. I’m worried that the moment I start to climb out, the comparative effort involved in being a functional human being will exhaust me either back into the rut, or into an equally troublesome depressive episode.
So what do I do? I don’t know. I seem to be having a good day today, so I’ll probably try to cram as much into the next few hours as humanly possible. But I’ve had good days before and they tend to be followed by weeks in the rut’s deepest corners.
This isn’t an inspiring blog about how to motivate oneself into a new phase of life. Rather, it’s an acknowledgement that even when we know what the problem is, we can’t always bring ourselves to do anything about it. Motivation is fickle and energy is fleeting. I just hope that, ten years from now, I’ll look back on this part of my life with more admiration for how I escaped than shame over how long it took me to do so.by