I have some problems with anxiety.
That’s kind of an understatement, so let’s go back a bit. This document has been open between my phone and my PC for three days now as I mulled over the different ways to begin1. But what I’ve figured out from absolutely overthinking this piece and how to continue when I pulled it up is the most ass-backwards revelation I think I could have as an adult:
I’m a lot better at pulling my ass out of the fire than trying to avoid it.
Or, to sum up how this relates to writing specifically, I have a dramatically higher chance of getting a competent bit of work out of myself if I shit out an intro and then just keep going from there without stopping, but if I let myself hesitate or overanalyze the concept, I’m going to choke. It came to me when I realized that 99% of my job was just wild improv and figuring out how to make things happen, not trying to plan ahead for them. I’m excellent at cleaning up messes, my own or not, but I just get paralyzed if I try to take it slow and avoid trouble.
This whole thing hit me because I’ve been trying to exercise more, running on my lunch breaks and all. One day, as I’m on the loop back to the office, I see a coworker has texted me a photo: it’s me, looking like a rabid wolverine, mouth wide in a grin that she described as “child-eatingly pleased with myself”. Apparently when I’m on a jog I short-circuit the part of my brain that deals with looking professional2. While I’m decidedly not posting that photo here (yet?), I have kept it on the phone as a reminder that nah, sometimes being a dork is the best option for me, and a little awkwardness is okay in the long term.
Now, this isn’t to say that I should just go off half-cocked all the time. That’s what got me into a lot of horrible problems growing up, ruined multiple relationships, so on, so forth. But I’ve got to stop holding myself up on trying to make things perfect and just do something, there’s time to edit later3. Strangely, though, this has made me realize that this is a problem I’ve had much longer than I realized? When I started this, the idea was to talk about how I didn’t used to have anxiety, but some traumatic events set me down a path of being incredibly timid about the prospect of failure, etc, etc. Then a lot of things clicked when I was trying to find a file on my desktop.
File names removed mostly because some of this involves in-progress work for clients, or just things I’m ashamed to have visible which were quickly shunted into folders. The big thing here is just the amount of installers kicking around near the bottom: I have a lot of software I use where it downloads updates and then I don’t run them because I’m in the middle of something, and I’m worried the update will break something or change a feature I use, but then they pile up and the odds of a major change becomes more likely, and so… etc. Or the PDF books kicking around, some of which were Patreon rewards, or just free downloads, but I hate reading PDFs, so they sit around. Or Cheat Engine tables for particularly thorny games that I stalled out in the introductions of, so…
I could point to my relatively recent hobby of Gunpla4 model kits, which began with me buying one at fire sale prices and then failing to open it for an entire year. (This is still a problem in that my first Real Grade kit is now lying on my workbench behind me for the fourth month, where I stopped at the legs because the skeleton was such a jump up in complexity from prior projects.) Or how unless someone else presses me into trying the pilot of a series, I’m likely to sit on it for a while and just “go back later”. And as you’ve now all seen, lord knows I hesitate and flake on just writing a new piece, which I also confess has been hampered by making all sorts of excuses since it’s the first “real” content for this site.
At first it was wanting to start off with a bang, so that’s the extra-long one I took screenshots for and have half complete as I try to bridge the two parts. Then I started the outline of this one, but I also told myself “well, you can’t make the first post a depressing one, people are going to leave, so you need to finish something more entertaining at the same time!” But then that stalled out, and as you saw at the start… this one has been in the works for a bit now5.
So I guess here’s the plan: this exists, I’m going to finish writing about video games in the next day or two (it will be a piece with a lot more pictures and fun to it), see if I can’t hack together the tag hiding system I’ve been working at, and then start posting introductions to some of the different series of articles I’ve been working on, just to have those out and gauge interest. That sound good? Let’s run with that. Thank you for remaining here, and I’ll be back much sooner.
(PS: in the month since that screenshot was taken I’ve finished running all of the installers and cleaning up a lot of the loose files, reading some books, polishing off one of the aforementioned Cheat Engine titles, and just better organizing. Sometimes, shaming myself works! Hopefully this piece will be part of that.)