I’m 23

george-lucian-rusu-87228-unsplash.jpg
This is me. Photo by George Lucian Rusu on Unsplash

Every year, I publish a post on my birthday looking back on the year and asking myself whether I’ve lived in accordance with my values.

This year, I want to keep it short and ask two questions:

  1. Do I love myself?
  2. What am I grateful for?

Hopefully, there’s loads of life ahead, more people to meet and great food to eat. Let’s begin.


Lovely love

So, I love a lot of people. I’m quite generous with my love. I try to value my friendships with relationships with people because they’re often what makes life worth living.

Seeing my girlfriend laugh at my amazing jokes (if you ask her she’ll say something like “no, he’s not funny… ah his jokes are terrible” then roll her eyes and laugh at the idea that I was ever considered funny, but really, that’s just her way of saying “He really is the funniest guy I’ve ever been around”).

Knowing my friends can rely on me to listen to them in times of need but not get to a restaurant on time. Or getting positive feedback from people on my writing (but only rarely because I rarely write) is all beautiful.

Do I extend that same courtesy to myself? No.

Maybe “self-love” doesn’t need to be as intense as the love we have for other people, but I think it would be helpful to be more compassionate towards myself.

Perhaps I can try being compassionate towards myself with regard to my actions rather than thoughts.

Thoughts come and go. Negative or positive. Actions can be slightly more long-lasting – like eating well and exercising.

By the time I’m 24, perhaps I’ll love myself a bit more.


I am grateful for…

Friends and family

I’ve surrounded myself with a bunch of really dope people and I don’t think I would be where I am today if it wasn’t without them. Even those I’ve lost contact with.

Charity

I never posted it here but I recently raised £480 for Cancer Research UK, Marie Curie UK and Diabetes UK.

It involved a lot of swimming (about 25 miles over 3 months) but I was going to do that anyway so why not raise money will doing it?

We (the donors and I) were successful in the end. We helped a great cause and I got fitter in the mean time.

Exercise

I’m always grateful that I simply have the ability to exercise. If my back had been slightly worse, I may not have had proper use of my legs! Even if that happened, I still would have found a way to exercise.

It’s great. It’s like a free way to feel accomplished and non-sluggish.

I recommend you appreciate your body, regardless of its flaws and try some light exercise. When you get into the groove of it – I demand an ultra-marathon.

Vegetables

Ok, I’ll explain.

In short, I’ve been eating more vegetables and they’re bloody great. It’s like free food that makes your plate look like a rainbow.

Vegetables are just dope, man. I feel sorry for those who still say things like “I don’t eat vegetables” because they just remember those sad what-even-is-flavour, I’ve-been-steamed-for-too-long, I-am-pure-trash looking veggies they had in primary school.

Books

Books are the best investment possible. Unless you’re an American college student.

I can read words. That’s really great.

There are millions of really good words in a beautiful order out there and it’s a pleasure to be able to experience the worlds other people create.


There’s probably more but I was meant to keep this short.

For everyone that’s read my work over the past year or longer, thank you. I love you too.

@ImprovingSlowly


I used to be younger:

I’m 22

I’m 21

I’m 20

I’m 19

I’m 20

I’m 20

Self-review can be difficult. Especially when it feels like the negatives from the previous year have become worse and the positives more rare.

However, there is nothing wrong with this difficulty. This year has been tough but there’s little value in either trying to show a false persona (whether the portrayal is happy or sad) nor would I benefit from ignoring it completely.

I’m turned 20 a week ago and here’s the review of my past year.

What’s happened in the past year?

Writing

My journal has continued and become an even more important part of my life. I started when I was 18 and it’s still going. I’m nearly at 500 days with over half a million words. Even if it just tends to be personal rambling, it shows the usefulness of consistency. In the early days, there were times when I just didn’t want to write anything. Either because I’m too tired or I’ve had a bad day. Now, I don’t do it based on how I feel. It’s just something I do. It’d be weird if I didn’t write every day. I’m pretty sure journalling is more regular for me than eating breakfast or sleeping for 8 hours.

It’s a wonderful habit which has slowly proved itself as a much needed anchor throughout my day.

On the other side of the coin, my blog has been inactive. I will explain why later. I did have a productive month in March but I can’t explain to you why that was the case! The same thing happened last year. Maybe March is just the best month of the year.

I have a few favourites though. My post on living with chronic pain is the best explanation of my current problem. I also enjoyed writing about comparing yourself to others and why we should listen.

University

I study Philosophy for those who don’t know. I’m still at university and it’s not the worst thing in the world. I’ve kept and made new friends. I don’t actually know if I’m any better at philosophy at the moment but I have gained new interests in the field. The main one being about global justice and health.

The course is based on what can and whether anything should be done about healthcare in countries around the world. Currently, there is a great inequality of healthcare around the world and it’s something we all know. However, we are also much less likely to actively do anything about it and much less likely to claim responsibility for all the poverty-related diseases in the world. Questions such as ‘Does Aid Work?’ and ‘Are all humans moral equals?’ were central to the course. I feel the course has made me much more compassionate and at the same time, it’s made me feel like my arguments are actually increasing in relevancy instead of being dismissed as useless.

For anyone reading this who know me in real life, I’ve gone on and on about this course. I apologise for nothing.

Depression and Health

This is what I wrote last year:

“Being in pain every day for over five years has started to take its toll on my mental health. My various coping mechanisms are struggling to handle just how prominent all of these medical problems are in my life.”

Unfortunately, nothing positive has developed. My depression is much worse and my pain continues without change in intensity.

I could write for a long time about this depression but I won’t bore you with the rambling. Depression makes me feel alone in the company of my best friends and sad when I’m surrounded with happiness. It has sucked out any motivation I’ve had for the things I used to enjoy and made it difficult to just do normal things. For a while, even during my exam period, I would just lie in bed doing nothing of value. But it’s not like I would sleep either for I also have to deal with insomnia. I’m also still using a walking stick. Which clearly doesn’t help this whole situation.

As you can guess, this year has been filled with a lot of frustration which is often directed at myself. I still meditate but I’ve struggled to find any kind of peace. The days when I would walk outside and just appreciate the sounds and sights are far and few between.

Very recently, I was actually told I can’t have anti-depressants yet because I needed to test stronger painkillers! That seemed to just highlight some of the absurdity of the whole situation.

But that’s ok. Things like that happen to people all the time. I’m not alone with this depression but I don’t know how much comfort that brings to me any more.

So that helps explain why I haven’t written that much over the past year and my current difficulty with university.

I’ll get better. I haven’t lost all hope in the world. I need to get to a million words in my journal, after all.

Looking Forward

To every psychologist I’ve spoken to, they’ve asked me: What are your goals for the end of our sessions?

I have to filter out the standard “I don’t want to be depressed” answers because it isn’t that useful.

To all of them, I have said in response “I want to be ok with how I’m feeling”. That doesn’t mean that I have to feel happy all the time. It is centred on finding peace with myself and mindful of who I am. And really just being involved in my own life rather than being a passive spectator of the days that come and go.

Aside from the standard goals of becoming a better writer and developing new skills, I’d say that is the most important. If that means that I’m not on a walking stick when I’m 21, all the better. If I still have to deal with chronic pain, hopefully I’ll still be able to find some peace in my day.

And that is it. Here’s to a better future.

 

I’m 19

Yesterday was my nineteenth birthday. I thought it would be worthwhile to share my thoughts on the year that’s just passed and things I have planned for the future. It probably won’t all be positive but that’s ok. Reviews are done so the future can be improved.

Looking back on the past year 

  • University

I started university last September and began studying philosophy. I’ve had to learn to become much more independent and proactive. Simple things like no longer having a structured school day could have resulted in excessive procrastination because I have so much more freedom from things. I’m no longer told to wake up at a certain time or even read relevant books. All of that is up to me now and I think it’s been more of a positive than a negative. It’s allowed me to break the basic monotony of going to school then completing homework. Now, I can travel around London whenever I want or sleep in then order pizza. The new found freedom has been nice but it does have its downsides. It requires a lot more self control since it’s much easier to travel in the right direction when there are signs everywhere but now there aren’t. I’m meant to be an adult now. I’m not. But I’m meant to be. I’ll get there eventually.

  • New Habits

I’ve also started writing and meditating regularly. These two habits have been the most beneficial things I’ve started doing and I hope to continue them with increasing volume over the next few months and years. Writing for this blog and my private journal has taught me a few important things. I know that I enjoy writing and researching articles related to personal development and similar areas. I know that I have many more ideas than I once thought I did about the world. Even if they’re based on poor information and faulty arguments, it’s something that I’ll slowly develop and work on. For the better ideas I have, writing about them is improving my ability to express myself clearly and effectively.

  • A Few Negatives 

Unfortunately, this year hasn’t gone without the bad. This year marked the 5th year of my chronic pain and leg injuries. That’s a difficult thing to say because of how normal it sounds. Over the years I’ve met a lot of new people and this means that nearly all of my friends at the moment know me as the person who is always on crutches. The pain appears quiet but it is as loud as the moment I first noticed it. Being in pain every day for over five years has started to take its toll on my mental health. My various coping mechanisms are struggling to handle just how prominent all of these medical problems are in my life. This year alone I’ve had two operations in the space of four months. It’s difficult and definitely hasn’t been the brightest part of my year but I’ll remain optimistic about there actually being an end to all of this even though the tunnel could not seem more dark.

Looking forward

I have a few simple goals for the next year. For now, they’ll be vague. I have reasons for that and I’ll say why in a future post (if I remember :D)

  • Writing 

I have a whole summer ahead of me and I hope to take writing, for this blog and possibly elsewhere, much more seriously. I say ‘seriously’ to mean I’ll dedicate more time to it, not to mean I’ll suck out all the possible fun from it in order to make it profitable or anything like that. I have been thinking about a number of posts I’m excited to write about and you should enjoy reading them too. One of the biggest posts (which will probably be a small series) is about why the world isn’t as bad as it may appear. For a long time I’ve had the desire to explain to myself and others why it’s better to put your money on the world improving as a whole rather than it getting worse. Another one is to expand on what it’s like to live with chronic pain. It will be personal to me so it won’t be a universal guide for people who haven’t experienced it but wish to learn more. Nonetheless, I still hope it’ll be useful, if not engaging, for some.

  • Personal projects 

The desire to learn everything can be infectious. However, I have narrowed that desire to a few things. Those being, computer science (mainly programming but I wish to eventually learn more about artificial intelligence) and learning languages (Polish and German). Those two areas have stood out to me the most because they are the most interesting and useful.

  • Health 

This will probably be the most ambitious of my hopes given my past track record but it’s worth a shot.

I hope to be walking normally again before I’m 20 and spend a whole week without worrying about my chronic pain. If I had to say which one was more probable, it would be the end of my chronic pain.

Overall view

This year has definitely had its difficult moment but it hasn’t all been terrible. Hopefully, there will be much better content to come and it’ll be a good year for all of us.

I’ll add that the inspiration to do this post came from Scott Young at scotthyoung.com. If you haven’t read any of his stuff, I strongly recommend it.