What's up guys,
I wanted to make some sort of post like this for a while now and feel I'm in the proper mood (and have the time to actually sit down and do this right) today.
As some of the long-time posters definitely noticed, I was not in a good place when I joined these forums. Mostly a lot of anger, resentment and general dislike aimed towards myself, and a shitload of anxiety in regards to the possibility of disapproval from other people. I would say it is the polar opposite of that now. I genuinely like who I am as a person and human being, feel I have a lot to give to the world, and simply have to focus my efforts on not letting the classical human cravings of short-term gratification and avoidance of uncomfortable feelings get in the way. They're not bad, I get why they're there, but productive and helpful for my long-term happiness? Nah.
Same with the anxiety. I even went to see a psychologist about it (got an IQ test done in the process - 132, which helps in trusting my own instinct, though it does have a "comparison-y" quality that I don't like all that much, but it is a tool that I use in times of doubt), and she basically told me I "grew up" in the 3 months I visited her and stopped running away from my problems. And that's exactly what plagued me, constantly seeking and prioritizing comfort over development. I could claim here that I wanted to be this/that type of dude, but not at the price it came.
So if the ultimate goal is long-term happiness and self-love that is based on my own judgement of myself (basically, the gap between who I think I should be day-to-day, and who I actually am, determines that), then what steps had to be taken? What actions did I have to do, what decisions did I have to make, to make this a reality? Because this forum is blessed with a fuckton of knowledge that would, in my opinion, eliminate most, if not all, of the world's problems if internalized by all. Seriously.
But how much of it did I actually apply? And how much was the constant self-analysis that I did helping? Constantly coming up with new questions and looking to describe the story of my life in a way that makes me seem blameless for my woes is basically a more fancy way of solidifying a victim mentality on the day-to-day. Yes, my parents didn't treat me all that well emotionally. Yes, moving around as a kid was rough. But I was not alone in not having an ideal life, and constantly looking at WHY that is so made no difference in changing things. In fact, I felt even more unhappy as I accummulated knowledge and had nothing change in my relationship to myself and overall level of happiness. The bar for who I could be simply climbed higher, making going out and developing myself an even scarier endeavour.
So here are the things that, looking back at it, made all the difference. I would say 90% of the internal/external change occured over this past year, after me and my best friend took LSD and had an honest look at things. That jumpstarted the whole "well I actually have to make some changes and prove the voice that hates me has no basis in reality, not just negotiate with it like a hostage situation". The basics were truth and moving forward with a (as) constant (as possible) preference for developing self-love and self-acceptance over any external rewards, when weighing how an action would effect me in the future.
1.) Meditating every day. They say you begin to feel the effects of daily meditation after a month. It took me a bit longer, but actually sticking with what I knew would help in the long-run was huge. The effects (recognizing thoughts as an independent stream of thoughts, and not as "me", or "truth", as well as inner calm, self-awareness, focus on the present moment, and general self-love) are profound and this is a habit I do not intend to stop. Similarly to the "slow but steady" mantra I told myself over all this, the same with meditation - I started out with 5 minutes a day and had that number go up 1 minute for every regular week or two of practice I did.
Main benefit though? It's almost impossible to bullshit myself now. The road is in front of me, and I know whether I'm walking it or not. And I know that only continuing my journey will bring me happiness, nothing else. So most of the time, it's a binary choice with not much room for self-deception (yeah, I could either write and move forward and put in the effort and love myself more afterwards (however slight the growth), or pack a bowl, watch Netflix, be comfortable but have a nagging sense of inner anger and dissapointment in myself (however slight the rise)).
I now rest (consume) because I want to properly focus and energy to do the things I need to do (create). Not as an end, as it used to be, but as a means. Big difference in that.
2.) That's the thing - all of you know what you would need to do to elevate yourself to the level you feel you're capable of (if you're not there already). I could've had much more sex than I did if I didn't know, deep down, that I could get better girls, and refused to lower my standards (except for one time when I was drunk and felt I needed to lose my virginity already, whatever the ho(l)e
). But I refused to actually do anything to provide more value to myself and the world, so I was stuck feeling disrespected by the ugly girls that would want me, and sad that the hot ones don't. Like shitty internet rapper thinking Dr. Dre hasn't signed him because the world ain't ready for him, so he keeps making the same shitty songs. Just delusional.
Not even looks, general personality as well. I was a damaged person (or rather, I was damaging myself daily) and attracted other damaged people. Not ironically, as I changed, so did the people around me and the friendships/relationships I have.
3.) Most importantly, I developed discipline
. I knew what I had to do (actually do, not "let go of resistance" or "allow some emotions") on the day-to-day and carried things out. Here was the developed version of Aragorn that I knew I could become, and I actually started putting in the effort. Slowly, at first, but if you focus on being just a bit better every day, what you look back at after a year is simply astounding.
I write/practice rapping/record for at least an hour a day. This was extremely hard for me to do regularly, and I laugh thinking back at the fact that writing 1 bar (2 lines) a day was hard as hell after the March LSD session. Now an hour seems too low and I want to have this jump up so that I'm comfortably going 3 hours a day by the summer.
I made the decision to quit one of the jobs I work at to free up time for music. It's at a level where people who have been doing it for a while say it's very good, and one friend (who is more or less the DJ Khaled of this underground community) told me he thinks I'll take things the furthest out of all the artist he is in touch with, simply because of my focus and unrelenting energy put into improving and hearing honest critique to make things better. But it can (and will) take a couple more steps, and I look forward to it.
I mean, actually doing what I've always wanted to do took 4 years of gathering courage, and nothing changed until I said "fuck it, I'll have to work through a lot of self-hatred (read work through, not think about and hope I have it go away) and doubt, but putting the effor in is a simple eqation. Just put in the time and focus". Simply not expecting for the resistance to change until I showed it that there was nothing to resist.
I work out and eat healthy...regularly! That's the biggest things, I dabbled in both (going hard for a month, then being a couch potato another month), but now I'm focused on doing both with discipline. I'm jacked and cut now, but what's funny is that I barely do it for that anymore. I know it helps me mentally, as it relieves stress and helps with developing discipline, so my body is more of a pleasant surprise than means. But yeah, it helps confidence, let's be real.
4.) Kidd wrote that the whole point of this, for some people, is to find a woman who is deserving of your time and energy, and I feel I've found that. She's a truly wonderful human being, and I am surprised almost daily at how thoughtful, quick-witted and caring she is. I am well aware that we're together now and not since a few years ago because I provide much more value than I did, and that things might change in an instant if either she finds a better dude, or I fail to continue climbing (or at least maintain my value), and I have made my peace with that. There is nothing wrong with that, I don't see any negativity in it.
It used to be like that - "Oh man, those bitches just want value, don't take them seriously". Like we don't? Like I didn't/wasn't? I wasn't handing out fucks just because a girl felt she deserved to ride me or whatever. The girl in question is away on an exchange program, so I'm quite thankful for the fact that I have time to focus on getting things rolling so that by the time she comes back, we're flexible in which country we move to, what we do, whatever....despite the fact that I miss her a great deal every day. But we're planning our future, she's putting in as much legwork as me to make things happen, and it's been great.
So I'll maybe add a definition for love that y'all can debate - I accept her fully, well-aware of the fact that she is flawed, and actually love her more for her flaws than if she was perfect. She's a human being in every sense of the word.
5.) I have about 5 people, aside from my brother, that I consider to be close friends. I've filtered out a bunch of people, and communicate regularly with maybe 20 people. I used to think I was antisocial for this, but I am simply selective who I hang out with and prefer to devote my energy to either close friends or self-development. I get so much hate from this from the people who attend our university, but I honestly laugh at it now. And it's really envy at my happiness - not a way to stroke my ego, but just a thing I've observed.
6.) Self-love/Self-acceptance (same thing really) is the most essential thing. If you feel you're making a decision based on running away from something because you don't think you could handle it, go ahead and run towards it. The self-love that develops from sticking to what you say you'd do, that you know is good for you in the long run, despite the fact that it might take effort, be uncomfortable or make you feel fear, is incredible. Again, incremental and slow, but over a year, holy shit. You don't have to face your biggest fears every day, but there are a shitload of micro-level decisions you make daily, weighing development and comfort. And if you've been here for a while, you probably recognize the difference.
7.) This basically goes hand in hand with the point above. Learning to be vulnerable was extremely important to me as well. Covering up myself, in any way whatsoever, was aimed at getting approval from someone, whatever the bullshit story I told myself about how that was not so.
For example - as the girl I mentioned was leaving to go to the exchange program, we were cuddling after 4 days alone at my house, and I started crying. I just let the tears come out and didn't hide them, and there's great inner strength in that.
I would equate being vulnerable with not needing to be anything else than you are. I might be seen as a pussy or whatever for telling her I love her a few times a day (believe me, a lot of introspection went into whether I'm doing this as a way to "buy her" with these kind of statements), but it's the way I feel, so be it. I've also laughed at people's faces if they've said some stupid shit, told people to go fuck themselves if they were being mean and overstepping boundaries, and hugged the hell out of people that I was excited to see after a long time...and it's all the same thing - vulnerability
From that point, logic takes over, because you and your emotions are on the same page, and you simply follow your logic to deliver the emotions you want to feel over the long-term. We're all doing this to feel good at the end of the day, not to achieve some Machiavellian ends (and even then, again, it's the result that brings the emotion you want...you're after the emotion, not the result). You just can't be ashamed at the emotions you do feel and the emotions you do crave.
So basically, I realized that there would be no "magic pill", or instant realization, that would make me love myself and not fear the judgement of other people (two sides of the same exact coin, as these things tend to go). I was in a place where self-hate and anxiety was the norm, and taking myself out of that, after a lifetime of feeding this, would take work and effort. I am now at a place where I am, almost every day, seeing how old patterns of doubt or actions dedicated towards approval, peel away. Once you get into the habit of peeling back the curtain, it's almost a compulsion to keep growing afterwards, and it's great. Really, it's the process of becoming your best friend that is both neverending and so, so rewarding.
What's next? As I mentioned, I will be leaving my old job and just teaching English to cover start-up costs for a translation business I want to set up here. The market is a bit saturated, but I can offer higher quality services at 2/3 - 1/2 of the price. I'll be doing market research once I leave here (end of March), and hope to be profitable by the summer, as there are almost no other costs aside from registering a business and setting up a website. I've had 3 years of top-quality marketing experience at this job, as well as other places I've worked as a marketing director, and I intend to leverage that. It's an online business too, so pulling about 1000 EUR a month (not that unreasonable) once I finish school (1 1/2 years from now) isn't unrealistic and would allow me to go wherever.
I've also thrown out almost all the songs I've recorded up to this point and have started my album, basically, from scratch. I want to put out something extremely good and will send it to mix & mastering only after I'm fully satisfied. Yes, I have to watch out for the "Dr-Dre syndrome" of over-the-top perfectionism, but it's a balance I feel I'll navigate well. But the album should be out by the summer, and I'll be having my 2nd concert (they called me back after the last show) in a few weeks.
Fun fact - I also got caught with a microscopic amount of weed and got 60 hours of community service that I just recently finished. Going through the court process with proscecutors and everything was trying as hell, and a lot of belief was developed simply because I'd turn catatonic from panic attacks if I didn't have faith that all would be well. My criminal record is still clean, and I learned a lot from the elderly people that I was around (I did my community service in a retirement home).
Wish y'all the best of luck and I'll be checking once every few days to lend some support/advice/improve myself. Count your blessings for the fact that you found this place, as it's oftentimes a matter of being in the right place for something to happen. But take advantage of the fact that you found it as well, and work at developing yourself for the simple purpose that you know what you're capable of and know you'll like yourself more (i.e. be more independent) and be happier as a result.
Bitches and brown-nosers are the symptom, you gotta catch the disease yourself.