I’ve been losing momentum on the blogging front recently, which is a personal point of embarrassment for me considering how little I got done. However, this lack of activity doesn’t mean I haven’t intended to post anything, I’ve simply been having difficulty finding the words and the time to commit them to text. One thing that’s repeatedly crossed my mind is how my recent posts have felt like laying a foundation — setting the stage for myself to start meeting my own expectations and goals, and expressing that with clarity and focus. To that end, I’ve been feeling the strong desire to revisit last year. Though it hasn’t been that long since I archived and unpublished my previous posts for divulging too many personal details best left committed to an offline journal, this is something very central to a fundamental change in my life that I’ve been implementing. Like a great accomplishment, which in some ways I suppose it could be argued to legitimately be, my 2012 is something that I do want to share with pride.
At the end of 2011, I was in a bad mental and emotional state. As I unintentionally let on in my last post, I’d been depressed for a many years at that point. I don’t mean that I was trapped in the listless melancholy that the word “depression” immediately brings to mind. In actuality, I’m fairly certain that outside of anyone that I personally shared personal details of my life with (or anyone who came across my previous writings and actually read them), no one thought anything was wrong with me at all. But there was something wrong, as far back as 2005. It was then that I first recognized that there was an irreconcilable disparity between my expectations of life and my reality. Back then, it was focused on my situation with my familial relationships. Having grown up in a Mexican household, I was raised to believe in the importance of family and the unending love and support it brings. Yet, I found myself not only cut off but betrayed by the people I’d trusted and cared for implicitly. Over the years, that gap between reality and my expectations extended to other areas of life — work, friends, dating — in almost all areas, I was constantly finding myself the odd man out getting screwed over in spite of all the praise and compliments I would receive for who I am and how I do things. Come 2011, I stopped being able to handle it all. Emotionally, I felt worn out and empty. Mentally, I felt stressed and overloaded, incapable of focusing and collecting my thoughts.
I convinced myself that a drastic change was necessary, and took a page out of one of my favorite books, Musashi, the story of the eponymous legendary Japanese swordsman. As the story goes, he was a brash youth named Takezo, desperately seeking to make a name for himself on the battlefield. Eventually he’s captured and imprisoned to three years of solitary confinement, with only classic Japanese & Chinese literature to keep him company. When he’s set free, he emerges a different person and given the name Musashi by the emperor who’d sentenced him. Realigned and set on a new path, he achieves greatness in many aspects of life. Since I couldn’t commit to three entire years, I settled for one. I deactivated my Facebook, broke communications, and focused on school (which I was able to afford to attend at the time) and work. I envisioned using that year devoid of any distractions to improve myself and acquire the knowledge and skill that I would need to measurably redirect my own path. Instead, I spent that year working on myself internally and attempting to undo a lifetime of faulty “programming”.
By stripping away external influences, I indirectly ripped out core components of what used to build my identity. Without the obligations to my friends and family and the roles and expectations that come with those relationships, I was left having to answer the question of who I truly am, what and whom I care about when I have to choose for myself rather than draw on past experiences and interpersonal influence. It was a transformative experience that I’m extremely glad I elected for myself. Without the guiding vision I built for myself, many of the challenges I faced this year (and undoubtedly, those still yet to come) I would not have been able to successfully face before.
Earlier this year, I was inspired by a post on Lifehacker to map out my career path using a mind map. Though I did create my own, I find it to be more of a representation of where I want to go rather than of who I am. To that end, I think it’d be best to allocate some free time in the coming days to putting together a personal manifesto. Though I’ve yet to verbalize and/or visualize it, it’s nice to once again feel attuned to my life and my identity without all of the fear and doubt that plagued me in years past.