I have an irrational fear of announcing that I am starting something. It doesn’t matter what it is; I just don’t like telling someone that I am going to begin something new because I am afraid of having to answer to my inevitable failure to accomplish what I set out to do. The personal embarrassment that comes from facing any line of inquiry or conversation that begins with “I thought you were going to …”, “How’s ___________ going”, or “Whatever happened to …?” can often be so overwhelming that I get paralyzed and decide to not even try.
Granted, this isn’t true for everything in my life–I have, after all, been able to accomplish things that I set out to do–but there are a number of times when I wanted to do something and put that out there only to have it go unfinished or unaccomplished for a variety of reasons. I know we all have those things in our lives–usually, they are New Year’s resolutions–but when I am asked about such failures, I feel like I am back in school and someone is comparing grades with me so that they can feel better about beating the smart kid at something.
I realize how arrogant that sounds, but I will say that it’s sort of true, at least in my head. There were many times when I was younger that my accomplishments (or lack thereof) were put up against others around my age, whether they were classmates, family members, or random people within six degrees of separation of my parents. Most of the time, I don’t think this was done with any particular malicious intent, but it always did seem to show me that whatever I was doing wasn’t enough. So, I either stopped telling people what I was working on or I stopped trying all together.
I bring this up because for the past year, I found myself in a bit of a rut and may have even been going through some sort of depression. Now, I am working on my mental health through both therapy and medication and as I have done that, I have seen that I have a particular coping mechanism for stress, and that can be summed up in a single word: accumulation.
As a geek, I love particular modes of entertainment, whether they be movies, podcasts, TV shows, or comics. I also have been a collector of said entertainment for 30 years. For much of that time, I have read, watched, or listened to everything that I bought; however, in the last couple of years, I seem to be getting more and using less. At first, I thought it was because the cheapness of a 50-cent comic bin or the ease of a Netflix queue simply made more things available to me, but as I have done some physical, mental, and financial audits on myself, I realize that this desire to have more stuff comes, in a way, from feeling that I can buy something. You know, in the same way that after a stressful day at work, I can shove fistfuls of Cheez-Its into my gaping maw because “Fuck it, I am allowed this.”
It is a problem that needs fixing. As I sit here writing this, I am not happy with myself in a lot of ways. On some level, I wonder if this is a phase or a mid-life crisis, but on the other hand, I also think that there is too much for me to feel like I need or have to do. We’re all busy in life with the obligations that can surround making a living and raising a family, and while many of us enjoy those obligations, there are things we also get to do for ourselves. But what if those things that we do for ourselves are stressing us out because we have too much and therefore have created more obligations? Should reading comics or watching that Blu-ray be work?
The question is rhetorical, obviously, but it is one of the central questions for this endeavor. I feel that I have accumulated so much while stuck in whatever rut I’ve been in that even the things that give me joy are now causing me stress. And that needs to change. I worry about becoming a miserable old man who feels unfulfilled and just runs up debt in order to fill in something that is missing. I mean, I’m already in my forties and I feel like I am in the early stages of this, so now is a great time to start uncollecting. And by writing this post and creating a whole new blog to do it, I am also facing the fear that I wrote about at the beginning of this post–I am actually making an announcement.
How will this work? Well, in my next post, I will lay out all of the specific rules and goals that I Have, but the idea is that I will come out of this with significantly less unused stuff, and will even turn accumulation into a zero-sum game. THat means that at some point, for everything I buy new, I let go of something old that I don’t need in my permanent collection (more on that concept in a future post).
This blog, therefore, will serve three purposes: to track my progress; to review those things I am consuming; and to personally explore this journey through reflections on a variety of topics, like our society’s need to compete with one another for stuff, or getting healthier physically and mentally. My hope is that something actually comes of this both for me and for other people.