Floating Away

I don’t see myself as an optimist.

I’m not sure if the people that know me personally would be surprised by that declaration or not. It’s hard to tell what people really think, at least for me, and I’m the type to assume the worst and hope for the best.

At work, I worry that people have a higher opinion of me than is justified and valid. I’m often surprised by people’s comments – the ways they think about me. On a company trip sometime in 2022, there were a couple people that told my partner how amazing I am – how much I contribute to the team and company.

I don’t see it. Not in the same way. I just did something that anyone could have done. Rather, stuff that anyone should be able to do, if they just stopped and thought about the problem for a minute.

At home, I worry about making the people around me miserable. You know, the way my father made everyone around him miserable. I want to put on my happy face and make sure everyone knows that all is right and well. It doesn’t always feel right, though. I’m not always okay.

And, every time I get angry or fight with the people around me, I always feel terrible about it. It makes everything worse. A vicious cycle.

It amplifies that feeling of failure. I think the worst part is that it’s probably my fault most of the time. My expectations and inability to accept when things don’t line up exactly with those expectations.

I had to stop making family plans, like going hiking, for example. We never get out the door at the scheduled time and when I’m in charge of the planning and packing, I expect to leave on time. If I’m not in charge, cool, I guess I’ll just draw until someone gets me – nothing to be mad about.

I guess you could go either way on that: maybe I should chill and let it go, who cares if you get out the door on time? On the other hand, if you have a scheduled event and everyone is aware, how hard is it to get out the door on time?

Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like to just float along wherever life takes me. The example above is one place I’ve tried it. It’s nice. You know, trying less hard. Putting in less effort. Not taking responsibility for every little thing.

Just kind of chill out.

Maybe people get the impression that I’m an optimist because I do keep trying. I try new things and failure happens but doesn’t stop me from continuing. I have hopes, dreams, and aspirations. I work hard to try to make them all a reality. I rarely give up.

On the inside, though…

Every time something goes wrong, I’m ready to give up on whatever I’m working on in that moment. When I don’t achieve success, it hurts. Whenever I have to fight to make my point, it hurts. It’s tiring, it’s exhausting, it’s overwhelming. It’s lonely. It’s stressful. It’s not always fun.

The key to finding success, as I understand it, is to keep trying. When something fails, you just replace it with the next grand idea and try again. Successful people don’t usually land on success with their first idea. It takes time, effort, and a willingness to continue after failure. I’m not sure but maybe that’s the key. Maybe that’s why people say those nice things about my work.

Failure hurts but failing generally makes me want to try harder

But if I just stopped doing those extra things…

If I gave up the music, the art, the extras – I could go back to spending hours upon hours in virtual worlds. Raiding boss monsters, collecting loot, and just having fun. Would it be fun? Yes. Would it be fulfilling? I’m really not sure. I doubt it. At least, I keep telling myself that it wouldn’t be.

When I first got into art, I mostly gave up on video gaming. I thought that to be a better person, a more fulfilled person, I couldn’t just mindlessly sit at my computer like a second job and ignore everything around me. I started to think real poorly of people that were still doing that. It seemed like maybe they had dreams once but those dreams died and got replaced with a couch and a screen.

I wondered: why did they give up? Maybe they achieved everything they wanted and were done. Maybe they gave up because life is what it is.

Maybe they were just tired.

I think I get it. Well, more-so now than ever before anyways. I’m not nearly as judgmental as I once was. Maybe they didn’t achieve everything they could, but they did what they wanted. They were living life and enjoying the moment. Or maybe they were escaping into a second life, a virtual life, that brought them more joy than their first life. Who am I to judge or know their situation?

Maybe we should all float along for a while.

Writing all of that, I have to concede now that maybe I am an optimist. I don’t give up because I usually believe in myself even when it feels like I’m alone in that belief. Those times where I’m not feeling so stable, well, fake it ’til you make it right?

The way I see it, giving up isn’t an option because failure is just a part of being successful. It’s all the stuff you get through to be successful. Giving up would just make me a failure.

And, well, you can call me all sorts of things but failure shouldn’t be one of them.

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