2021 took a lot.
The whole covid pandemic has taken a lot.
It feels a bit like Thanos snapped his fingers and blipped away a couple of years of my life, and I'm a little shocked and discouraged at how different things are today versus two years ago.
I can count the number of social occasions in the entire year on one hand. Some days the only words I speak are to my Google Home to switch the lamp on. My armchair has become my little hermit hole. This is the only thing I've written in 18 months (hi, by the way).
See, with an underlying chronic illness and covid all around I've had to be careful, and opportunities for connection, conversation, laughter, creativity and productivity have been rare as hens' teeth. Self-protection and survival have become the priority, and the cost has been my physical and mental health.
This is not how I'd like things to be, but like so many unwanted changes in life, this happened inch by inch, imperceptivity slowly until BOOM, here I am in a place that does nothing for me except for keeping me stuck and oh-so comfortable.
I'm scared of becoming half the man I could be and twice the coward I should be.
Honestly, I'm nervous putting this out there for you to read. But because it's my truth right now I'd being doing us both a disservice if I sat here and pretended like everything was okay. I'm as fallible as the next guy, and as a fallible human being (not to mention a confidence coach) owning my shit is key. I'm allowed to mess up, and acknowledging where I'm at, not denying it nor rejecting it, is the cornerstone of everything I've learned.
Don't get me wrong, my life isn't a train wreck and I'm not close to rock-bottom. I have so much to be grateful for and the last thing I want to do is whine when I'm fully aware that there are so many people out there with less than me and people who are suffering.
But my life has slipped and dimmed, and goddam it if I'm going to let this be.
I crave meaningful connection, not just transactional connections. I want to grow, because coasting is exhausting. And I want to belly laugh until my jaw aches and my eyes shine, because, well, that kind of simple joy is life-affirming.
These are the surest signs of life I know of.
Do I know how I'll change things around? No, not really. I'd be lying if I told you I had the answers.
I do have some ideas though...
Idea 1 - Say yes a teeny bit more
It's been so easy to say no to things right through the pandemic. No because it's safer not to. No because it's too risky. No because I'm too damn comfortable.
Saying yes a teeny bit more is about opening up some of the possibilities that are already there.
Idea 2 - Stop pushing things away
Self-protection has lead to me pushing things—and people—away.
Someone or something threatening to enter my orbit and disrupt the comfort and predictability of my day-to-day shufflings? No thanks. Get outa here, I'm good.
In pushing things away and keeping them at arms length I've cut myself off from what just might be interesting or fun or joyful. Gotta watch that.
Idea 3 - Invest time differently
I daren't add up the time I've spent in front of the TV or playing video games. For sure it would tower over the time I've spent reading, walking outside, connecting with others, etc.
The time I have is finite, and I know full-well that I get to choose how I spend it. So it's time I started making some better choices to give myself a fighting chance of a better experience.
Idea 4 - Nourish myself
Nourishment is the name of the game. Like a flower putting its face to the sun, I'm going to be looking out for opportunities to do the same—to turn towards the things that nourish me. To engage with the things that fill me up and make me feel nourished.
More reading. More conversation. More meaningful connection. More productive rest. More fresh air. More deliberate action.
Idea 5 - Protect my energy
The last thing I need to do is get out there, do loads of stuff and throw my energy around like a giddy teenager. My illness means that energy is in very limited supply, so it's vital that I protect that and redefine how and where I spend it.
If I was a diva about it this would mean not doing anything I don't want to do, but we all know that life doesn't work that way. So instead I need to make informed choices about where I put my energy, and to protect it where I need to. This is part of being confident, I've learned.
I know I'll slip. I know I'll resist change. I know I'll get frustrated. But that's all part of the process.
I guess paying attention might be the most important thing, as it's harder to coast and slide and slip when you're fully aware of that happening.
So, it's the signs of life that I'll look towards.