Finding My Voice

The past couple of months have been strange for me. I’ve found myself wanting to do some things and somewhat being unable to, while simultaneously doing things I didn’t really want to. I’ve struggled to write on here (obviously it’s been awhile), but not always for a lack of having something to talk about. Rather one of the more complicated things that I’ve been going through of late is trying to figure out exactly who I am and what that means. Obviously, I don’t necessarily expect that to just magically be figured out, but when it comes to writing on here there are certain things for certain reasons that I can’t necessarily share at the moment. Which causes there to be some issues within my head that leads to me just delaying writing. Which is part of what we’re going to talk about today. If you’re lazy or just don’t have a ton of time, you can skip to the end and read the last paragraph for a general summary. Otherwise, here we go.

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A lot of things have changed for me over the last year and a half or so. But we’re starting to get to the point where those things aren’t so new anymore. Instead we’re starting to get to the point that I’m falling into some routines. Which as someone who very much likes routines this is a good thing, other than some of the routines aren’t necessarily the most healthy of routines. The problem with that is that routines can be hard to break. One of those routines is my writing schedule has changed. Some of the reasoning is good, like setting aside intentional time to spend with my girlfriend or other friends on a day that I used to reserve for writing.

But not writing isn’t simply a function of not having time to write anymore. Rather it is somewhat a product of a bigger issue that I’ve been having. Trying to figure out who I am. Which in some ways is tied to the time issue in that what I spend my time doing reflects in ways who I say I am. The projects and people that I invest in are very much my way of saying this is important to me. But is that always true? One of the things that I’ve spent time on over the last couple of years has been this blog, at times it’s been very trying and at other times it’s been very easy and very rewarding. However, I’ve never really felt like I’ve found ME in the process. There are times when what I write represents who I am or who I want to be, but sometimes it’s more out of obligation.

If you ask people who know me, they would probably tell you that I don’t necessarily care about the opinion of others. Which to some people will sound offensive, especially when hearing that I care about those people. How can someone not really care about one’s opinion and still care for the person? These types of potential contradictions are one of the many things that I’ve been trying to figure out this year. Whether I have an answer is still very much undecided. But one of the things that I’ve started to realize is that most of the things that I want to do or that I like to do are things that come a bit more naturally to me. Which in a way could/should have a major impact on this website moving forward.

You see one of the things that I’ve been trying to do is write my life into a box rather than letting my life write for me. I’ve been stuck trying to come up with clever or solution based posts that others might takeaway something from. Or I wait until something big happens and write about it whether it’s good or bad. However, the posts that over the years have been the easiest (even if in the moment they are about difficult things), and sometimes the most successful posts (there are a variety of definitions of successful) have been the posts that have been about me. The posts where I dig into my emotions and my life and my stories. Which for some of you that’s all you’ve ever wanted anyway. For some that’s not why you’re here, but then again I don’t necessarily know why anybody is here, which is something that I’m also trying to work on but we’ll save that for a different post.

Going forward then if I’m going to focus on what stories and things matter to me, that means I also have to start looking at what matters to me. While there are certain things that I’m not necessarily going to get into out of respect for people that I don’t have permission from, there are things that I’m doing that just involve me. Things like what questions I’m asking and how I’m trying to solve them. Things like what experiments or routines I’m actually trying to work on. Different projects that I think would be interesting to get into.

The thing though that needs to be stated upfront is that this change is going to be messy and uncertain. It’s going to lead to some very uncomfortable and hopefully honest questions for myself that I hope you take and internalize and identify things within your own life. The things that this most means though is that we’re going to do this based on a priority system that I’m working on.

You see for me one of the things that I’ve most found over the last year and a half is that routines and schedules are great but they don’t necessarily tell you what to do when things are scheduled at the same time, or what to do when unexpected life events happen. Which is where one of my big projects is working on a system that helps me schedule things built around priorities. While this blog is a priority, living life is obviously a higher priority than talking about the life I’m living. So one of the goals of doing things differently, is to stop worrying about when I post, and start living a life that needs/wants to be posted about.

Which one of those areas that I’m struggling with currently to live out is how I go about defining what I want to be doing. It’s one thing to say I don’t know something, it’s another thing to not look, and a completely different thing to allow for confirmation bias where I am only looking at self-confirming evidence. So at least for a short term look into some of the things that I’m working on, currently I’ve been working with my girlfriend on defining some core values in our lives. We decided to try and come up with a list of 10 different categories that we thought were important and that best encapsulated our lives. Now that we have the 10 categories we’re currently in the process of defining what each of those categories means, what a to do and a to don’t list look like, as well as some other fun things like goals and rating systems etc. It all sounds fairly complicated which at the moment it is, but we’re working on just creating as much stuff as we can first and then limiting and trimming it down later to just the important stuff. The reason we’re doing it this way is that because when you start too small you don’t really get all of life and you also limit what you allow yourself to do.

Limiting myself and thinking small has always been one of the issues that I’ve had. Not necessarily in that I’m afraid of failing, but rather not taking big enough risks in the first place. Looking at my diet and exercise pattern for example, over the last few years I’ve had issues finding something that works for me. In the small non-risk taking view this would look like eating and making a lot of the same foods over and over rather than taking any risks. Which isn’t to say that I need to go out and make a different dish every single meal either. Rather looking at a slightly bigger scale, one would come to the conclusion that there has to be a way to have healthy, flavorful, food that comes in a variety of different forms but also isn’t super hard to make or take time I don’t have or consist of food I don’t like. Which the extreme change view would also say that I build things out way too far or into some manner that forces me to completely adopt a new style, which while possibly sustainable also builds in much more risk and potential waste if it doesn’t work out. So rather, one of my goals for this year has been to slowly start working on finding recipes that I like and figure out how to use them within my existing routines better. One recent example has been using a Saturday I was actually at home to cook some really good pulled-pork that I used throughout the week in a variety of different dishes from just simple pulled-pork sandwiches to tacos and even as part of a pretty awesome mac & cheese dish.

Another thing that goes with diet and exercise for me is the numbers. While some people use things like weight or number of steps or calories or any other number, I’ve always found these numbers to at times be vague and at other times not overly helpful. Which isn’t to say that you shouldn’t know these numbers or that they aren’t productive or helpful in certain circumstances. But a common example of my point is that a person who is muscular can weigh the same as someone who is out of shape, so how is weight as a stand alone value overly helpful. So if those types of stats aren’t what I use what do I use? That’s a good question and one of the things I’ve been trying to experiment around with a little bit lately.

One of the things that I’ve found most helpful of late has been trying to track my energy level throughout the day. Obviously a somewhat subjective measure, but given that I’m the one doing it there are certain consistencies of the perception and relative reliability over time that make it not the worst measure ever. Also in looking at some of the early results, when I tend to be exercising better, sleeping, better, and eating better, my energy levels and also productivity levels throughout the day tend to be more in my ideal zones. When I’m doing one or more of those things badly my energy levels tend to wane and/or crash.

The hard part of going through experiments like this though is that sometimes it requires way more work than what it’s actually good for. Which is where I have been working on priority a lot this year. While there are a lot of things that I’m struggling or not doing well there are things that are going well. This is where it is important to not always be critical just to be critical. There is also a difference between being critical and being honest. Honesty while not always kind, isn’t hurtful. When I look at my life over the last year and a half there are some things that could be viewed as hurtful. However, if I’m honest with myself there are a lot of things that I’ve done that have been mostly hurtful to me because I haven’t been willing to truly examine them and be honest with myself.

Going forward I’d like to be very examined and honest in my approach. There will be some very raw and potentially overshared information, which again could be messy or ugly or uncomfortable. But if I’m honest with myself and with you it leads to a different level of transparency. Which if you’re still reading at this point there has to be some reason why, and hopefully that’s because you’re starting to say Me too. Which is one of the things that I’ve found as my highest priority items of late. Finding items that make me want to say Me too, experiences and people and places that I want to find myself living and wondering why I haven’t done this before or more often.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m going to start living some crazy new lifestyle, but rather it means embracing the things that matter to me, the people that matter to me, and enjoying the time and trying to make a difference with that time. It also means asking some of those hard but very honest questions and doing so in a way that much like this article might take awhile and could go a variety of directions. In the end though I hope it will be worth it. Rather I should say, I know at least for me it will be worth it because as I start to find myself I hope to find my voice that will let me further explain what this crazy mixed up life is really all about at least as I see it.

In summary, I’m hoping to start getting at answering some bigger questions that are going on in my life, and also finding ways to make life easier, better, and more memorable for myself. In doing so I hope to have more things to share about living my own life that might inspire you to question and live your own life. But most importantly I hope to start having some honest conversations that might get messy and uncomfortable but help us to find the truth and the voice that is within each and every one of us.

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