This couldn’t wait until tomorrow.
I’ll be blunt: This is going to be one of those posts more for myself than anyone else. This is me dealing with concepts in the only way I know how, which is to say that this is the process of getting them out of my head and on to paper to explore them. If it helps someone else out there, then I consider it a happy bonus. But if that’s not your bag on this fine morning, then I cordially invite you to let your focus wander off.
I’ll get back to the instructional and silly ere long. Promise.
For me, every birthday that’s approached these past few years has brought with it a heaping spoonful of depression. But this year also carries the baggage of two simple statements:
I turn 36 in less than a month.
My Stepfather died at the age of 36 in 1992.
I can’t even wrap my head around that, owing to the disconnect a kid feels when they consider the mind of an adult. In my own braincase, I recognize the age, but not the thoughts. I’m still me. I can’t even fathom if he felt the same; knowing his age, but still thinking himself young. Too young.
There’s also the inevitable comparison. Yeah, I know, a bit hypocritical of the guy that made a vlog on why comparing yourself is bullshit, but some stumps just don’t come out of the earth as easily as we would like. By 36, he had a family. He had a good paying job. He had his own vehicle. His failings aside, he was every inch the standard for what a kid might think qualifies a human as “grown up”.
Me? I’ve got books that go largely unread. I’ve got a blog that gets the meanest trickle of traffic. I’ve got a vlog that’s doing well it it manages to get fifty views in a week. Fourteen years on since I started really putting myself out there in the world of freelance, and I’m still struggling to build something up. I’ve got lovely trolls who delight in telling me via email what a nobody I am now since I opted to walk away from anime voice-over.
Yeah, they’re just noise, but you can’t ignore any single note when you’re dealing with an emotional cacophony, you know?
But I have to give myself kudos, all the same. Because we’re also coming up on a year since I had what could generously be called a “personality meltdown”. That happened. I own it, warts and all. And I’ve been putting myself back together ever since. I’ve tried to stay positive, start the mornings with an affirmation that people have been positively responsive to (mostly), and keep putting one foot in front of the other to stride on.
But though I can see how far I’ve come since that lowest point, it falls short of what and where I had hoped to be. Yeah, okay, sure, it can be fairly argued that I’ve harsh standards set for myself, but unfair or no those standards are also what have pushed me even this far.
I put out those affirmations and articles and vlogs about things creative people face, or those that suffer with anxiety and depression, because reminding everyone else that they’re not alone reminds me of the same fact. It’s a necessary tool in the reconstruction project, as it were.
I’ve friends and peers winning awards, touring the convention circuit, having successful careers. You know. Being “grown up”. I don’t compare—or at least try really really hard not to—because not everyone’s path winds through the same hills and valleys.
But my Stepfather? That’s a whole other gig. That’s personal. That’s imprinted. That’s the kind of permanent gray-matter fissure that houses the uncomfortable questions, chief among which is “Would he have been proud of me?”
Or, would he give my efforts the side-eye like so many in my family do?
I won’t go on the whole “He’s looking down at me” trip either, because that is too large a metaphysical slice to try to consume without more coffee. Or more liquor. It’s also moot to the overall point.
But regardless, I can’t answer it. I’ve got no hard evidence or precedent to hold up to the light with certainty to plug in to the mathematical proof. And that, coupled with his all-too-young mortality and what I perceive as my own career failings leaves me here in this low place. At least now, a year on after the breakdown, I can recognize it and confront it, even if I can’t resolve it.
Not every ticket that comes into the mental I.T. Room finds a ready solution, folks. And that’s okay.
So what can I do? I’ll come out of this funk, sure. But what can I draw from this so that I don’t walk away empty-handed from the funhouse of suck that depression likes to erect?
Honestly? What I’ve already been doing. One foot in front of the other. I have to believe that the effort is important, especially on the days like today when I don’t believe in myself. I have to believe that each piece created is a milestone to something greater, even when I can’t foresee how far off that destination lies.
I have to believe that I have come a long way, even if it’s not as far as I would like. I have to believe that my 36, and his 36, are actually very, very different numbers.
I have to be proud of myself, even as I prove to be my own worst boss at times.
I have to believe that you’re reading this, and that my words are helping, even a little.
But, if that’s the plan—the Tao of Galaxy Quest, basically—then there’s one other thing to tackle.
I have to make more coffee.
Until next time, Horns Up.