lighterthanair: Bat-Mavis, from Hotel Transylvania (shiny!)
Sometimes I miss being young and stupid.

I'm going over very old entries in an old LJ of mine (hunting for some old song lyrics that wrote down years and years ago), and as usual when I do so, I'm experiencing two emotions.

The first is tension and fear, because I wrote a lot about my family and home situation at the time. It wasn't a happy one. I know now that my father was suffering from undiagnosed and untreated depression in addition to chronic pain, which made our relationship a rocky one on the best of days. It wasn't an easy situation for either of us. But I still experience a lot of negativity reading about things he used to say or do.

But the second emotion I feel reading through this is a sort of envy of my old (by which I mean "younger") self. I look at what I used to write about, and I wish my life could be that simple and enjoyable now. If you ignore the entries about family problems, my life was filled with obsessions, fun things. Video game updates, raving about how much fun it was to go to see the Lord of the Rings movies umpteen times, spending money on action figures, making geeky jokes and references to obscure anime (because at the time, so much of anime was obscure, or at least far nmore so than it is now) or making random geeky observations. I used to draw for no reason other than that I liked to draw.

Now? My life is considerably more adult. I may be making more money, and I have more independence now than I did then, but growing up seems to have sucked so much fun out of my life. Or at least changed how I express it. So much has changed, and I'm not entirely sure I like it. I wish I could go back to those days, or at least some of that mentality.

Now yes, part of that mentality and expression came about because I too was depressed, manic, and untreated. And I rather like being more level in my emotions, because it makes the hard times easier and it make me better able to understand the world around me. But I do miss the sheer highs that I used to get over the simplest things. Finding an action figure I wanted. Renting a video game that sounded fun. Staying up until 4 AM playing said game because I didn't have any reason not to. Making stupid sketches of silly ideas, drawn badly but still drawn. recounting snippets of conversation with friends and coworkers.

It isn't that I don't have my passions. I still geek out over things. I still get obsessed with books, anime, video games, TV shows, movies. But I don't celebrate it as much. I don't flaunt it. I don't find a cool geekly t-shirt and try to get one for myself. I don't have mental conversations with someone else's characters. I don't have massive RP sessions with strangers. I don't spend entire days writing fiction based on epic detailed dreams I had the previous night.

And there's no reason why I can't do that, I suppose. I could very easily go back to that kind of living, only better because I'm more emotionally balanced and don't have those lows to counter the highs.

But (and isn't there always a 'but')...

I don't know if it's the adult part of me or the cynical part of me that keeps giving me reasons why I can't do that. I could list reasons like counting on my fingers, and I don't know anymore if those reasons are good ones, or if I'm just making excuses not to be happy.

I have an image developed for myself online, and certain expectations to meet in the blogs that I do. True, that's less applicable for person blogs like this as opposed to my book review blog, for example, but I still have this irrational fear that fangirling over something here will bite me in the ass there. If I make comments here about how Dev and Kiran desperately need to get a room, am I going to suddenly find that Courtney Schafer wants nothing more to do with me? (Okay, bad example, because I think she'd find that hilarious, and I'm still not convinced she didn't intend that dynamic in the first place...) Are people suddenly going to stop reading my reviews out of protest if they discover this blog, put two and two together, and learn that I'm a yaoi fan?

I think part of that problem comes down to the fact that I've forgotten how to live privately instead of publically, at least where blogs are concerned. Some blogs I write entirely for public consumption, and image is something to be concerned with. And as much as this blog is a person one, it's still somewhat public, but I'm far less careful here. This blog is as much for me as it is for anyone else who reads it. And I think I've forgotten that this means I get to write for me here, instead of others.

Another piece of my brain cautions me against doing what I crave doing because I've seen what kind of life that leads to. Geeking out now and again, letting it show in public, wearing a nerdy t-shirt because I like it, putting an action figure on my desk at work. I think about that, and it makes me smile, and then I think of a guy I used to know who didn't seem to be able to drop the geekiness when real life required it. He's a kind of scruffy embodiment of the negative connotations of otaku. Files his fingernails to points, LARPs, carries a staff everywhere he goes, wears a desk of RP playing cards in a pouch around his neck, has been known to walk around uptown singing anime theme songs. And call me judgemental, but I don't want that to be me. And I know, sadly, that if I show my more geeky side in public, go back to allowing myself some more fangirl moments, that people are going to see me that way.

And really, why should I care? Who really cares, when you get right down to it, and why should I care if they care? If someone sneers at me for wearing a t-shirt with the crest of Valdemar on it, I know I shouldn't let that get to me. If I buy an action figure or two from an awesome movie or anime or whatever, is it going to kill me?

This is where my therapist would be in the "so what" 3-part question.

1) Is the world going to end if I do this?
2) Since the obvious answer is no, the world isn't actually going to end, then what are my options?
3) Since mastery only comes through a series of successes and failures, how will I handle it if I fail?

These things are meant to be an aid to overcoming anxiety, and I think anxiety is part of what's stopping me, in the end, from going back to the things I loved. It's just taking a different form than it used to. And it's harder to recognize as anxiety sometimes, but when I get right down to it, that's what it is.

For example, I've been avoiding doing certain things because I want to do them in a certain way. There's a video game I've been wanting to play again lately, but I wanted to play it via my laptop and record it so that I could edit the video and upload them to YouTube, for gits and shiggles. And because I can think of any number of reasons why that might not be a good idea (editing the video will take a while, setting up the recording will be a pain, I'll feel incredibly self-conscious of my mistakes, I'll want to do it all perfectly), I haven't bothered. I haven't even bothered playing it for my own enjoyment. I've just neglected it. And this is a game that I rebought a copy of because my previous copy broke. I did that months ago. I haven't even opened the new copy of the game, because I was waiting for the right moment.

Fear of a lack of perfection, fear of how people will perceive me, it's holding me back from actually having fun in my life.

And that's no good.

I used to hate who I was, and used to go to great lengths to try to be more like the people I admired. Now I think it's kind of ironic that now, I wish I could be more of who I was then. My fear took a different form then, so now, it seems preferable. Big deal if I was too afraid to leave the house somedays then? I didn't have to. I had a part-time job to give me spending money, lived with my parents and had few responsibilities, so fear like that didn't cripple me like it does now. Now, giving in to that fear means giving up 20% of a week's pay, being the difference between paying the bills or not, losing a job or keeping it. Then, pfft, it meant a bit of guilt but it also meant getting to lie in bed and play video games for a whole day while listening to awesome music.

(And my random playlist brings up Adam Lambert's Aftermath as I'm writing this, which is a little too fitting for what I'm writing. The lyrics, for those who don't feel like listening to the song.)

I can't do that now. I can't return entirely to that kind of living, because growing up has made it impossible. One form of freedom was traded for another, and I have to live with that. But that doesn't mean I have to throw aside the good things that used to be. I can still get some of them back, right?

So you know what? I'm going to do that. I have to go and get some groceries today, and make soup, but once I'm done with that, I'm going to stick in that video game and I'm going to play it, because I can and because I want to. And I'm going to enjoy it, because I know that I will. And I'm going to talk about it because I enjoy it.

I shouldn't have to miss having fun. Being an adult doesn't mean being humourless.

September 2015

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