For a few days now, I’ve tried to write some kind of retrospective on the year. The truth is I’ve never been all that good at reflection. I can do it in the immediate timeframe, or at least a small one — say, a few days or even a couple of weeks. I’m very good at replaying an event and agonizing over it, but often I’ll get something useful from it.
But longer timeframes and it’s another story.
I can’t remember January. I mean, I can; I was in the US — I try to come here for a month every year to be with my parents — but I don’t have anything solid. No big event, no milestone thing. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, or out of the ordinary, but I get that slippery feeling my mind has when confronted with something it doesn’t want to do and distracts itself with tumblr or something. A staticky rising frustration ending in a fit of distractive pique.
A good deal of this year is that way. I have no milestone for February, or March, or April. And I think there’s something distinctly wrong with that. I can point to part of it; I felt at the time that I was bungling my research and spinning my wheels (due to my own incompetence and cowardice), so the avoidance theory fits the bill there. Can’t deal with own shortcomings! Must play more computer games!
In fact: the avoidance theory is a huge fricking neon sign.
I used to love reading fiction. All kinds, but fantasy and sci fi and comics were my favorites. And that’s not the case now. I find reading stories stressful.
I even have a hard time watching some TV shows. Because I’m not comfortable with the uncertainty, with the problems characters face that are the core of a good story (or sometimes crappy writing, but that’s a different issue).
My avoidance behavior has gone absolutely haywire. It affects me in all kinds of ways. I don’t go out, sometimes, because the uncertainty is paralyzing. I fight with myself to get research done not because I fear the uncertainty, but because I fear that I won’t measure up, that a theory will defeat me, that I’ll crumble under the goals I’ve set for myself. Failure.
I don’t like the discomfort of potential failure. I don’t like the discomfort of uncertainty. I don’t like them enough to curtain parts of my life I once enjoyed in order to avoid them. It looks idiotic when I write it down, but there it is.
So the first half of 2013 is a story of blinders. I can’t remember specifics because I did everything in my power to not face them.
The second half of the year is a turning around. I got accepted into a conference and presented there, met incredibly interesting people and had my work well-received; I accidentally went to a writer’s convention thinking it was a fan convention and made even more friends. And then presented my research at a milestone panel (a mini-viva, to be honest), and not only had my work validated, but was given a focus for finishing it that I didn’t dare to think was something I could pursue. (More on that in another post.)
Proof that if I suck it up, if I just acknowledge that things might hurt and be uncomfortable and that’s okay, really interesting things happen. And things often aren’t as uncomfortable as I expect.
It’s a weird kind of anxiety, and I suspect it’s rooted deep in my past. So maybe that’s my resolution, as much as I hate the practice. Sort out that anxiety and come to terms with it, so the momentum from the end of 2013 pushes through into 2014.