I Need To Control

The other day I was in another funk. I am exhausted from being in funks, particularly now. I got lucky with many things during the worst of the last 6 months of the pandemic. I am, however not fairing really well, especially with the realisation this is going to go on for a while. I am having a really hard time with all the isolation, the lack of companionship, the inability for many friends to meet up because – pandemic, the lack of a pod. It goes on. The scenarios created by the pandemic are really bad for my mental health.

I am a hyper-extrovert. A social battery. I thrive from the events and conventions and game nights that I was able to do until the pandemic. I spent the last 4 years of my cultivating my identity into the brand I was building and the kind of life I had always wanted. Friends around the world and a celebration of the nerdery I love. I still have that, but now it’s all behind a screen. It’s a funny thing, almost like a tease. Like living in a museum—look with your eyes, not your hands.

To experience this then to be told “just let it go.” Ugh.

I needed a task based solution. I needed to figure out how to let it go. So I started writing.

I wrote a list of everything that was bugging me, stressing me out, making me anxious. I just went to town, no filter. Anything got written down. Here is some of my list:

  • Trump and the very distressing people that support him
  • I miss people desperately
  • I have gained weight
  • Why would we have an election in the middle of a pandemic
  • The colour yellow
  • Plan your meals
  • I am not working in my field

Once I got my list I went for a walk. After about an hour I came back and I went through my list and crossed off all the things that were obviously beyond my control.

  • Trump and the very distressing people that support him
  • I miss people desperately
  • I have gained weight
  • Why would we have an election in the middle of a pandemic
  • The colour yellow
  • Plan your meals
  • I am not working in my field

I also could not for the life of me tell you why the colour yellow was pissing me off that day. Yellow never did anything to me. The list was meant to be raw though—unfiltered. If it made it on the list, I felt at the dump stage that it did. Be equally honest. There were some other things that made me really have to dig deep.

Then I went through and looked again. What was left were two types of things:
A. Things I had direct or absolute control over—make a meal plan, these went on to the next list.
B. Things I thought I might be able to control or required a deeper look. For the B. stuff, I decided I had to explain control or deep dive in a paragraph.
I used a paragraph because speaking it would take only a few seconds. If I couldn’t explain to myself the elevator pitch of why I had control, then I probably don’t really have any control.

NEW LIST.
  • plan meals for the week.

“Why would we have an election in the middle of a pandemic” is a good example. Do I really have control over whether the parties vote no confidence specifically? No, not really.
However, I can still do something-ish about it. Politicians have to be aware of their public opinions. I know from my schooling that a phone call or letter to a politician still goes a lot further than a tweet (tweets might seem faster, but as much on the internet, they are fleeting and often lack nuance). Instead, I can craft a letter to all the different party leaders and candidates in my riding. I can tell them that any who supported a vote of no confidence in the upcoming speech to the throne would lose my vote, because pandemic.

Will this make a big difference? Who knows. That’s not really the point. The point is—I can do something about how I feel about it. I can enact a little control on something that in the grand scale is out of my control.

“I have gained weight” became: run Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. (I have run 2k each day and have the map my run app now.) It also ties into the make meal plans.

“I am not working in my field” could not be broken down into a paragraph, I tried a couple of times, then deferred to my rule and it got crossed off.

The New List also needs a name. Not To-Do. No self demand. No implications of guilt or shame if I don’t get them done. Just simply a self-reminder that I know I can do these things. I know that if I get them done I will eventually feel better because I affected change or because I was able to help myself in some way.

NEW LIST
THINGS I WOULD LIKE TO GET DONE.
  • Write to the candidates, leaders, & parties re: the upcoming speech from the throne.
  • plan meals for the week.
  • run Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday.

So far so good. All these things are attainable and realistic. They all also give ME the choice of control. Should I choose to not do any of these things on this list so far then I am the one who made that choice to ignore it. It was not thrust upon me or taken from me.

  • Trump and the very distressing people that support him
  • I miss people desperately
  • I have gained weight
  • Why would we have an election in the middle of a pandemic
  • The colour yellow
  • Plan your meals
  • I am not working in my field

“I miss people desperately” became a couple things. My trips all were cancelled this year. All theatre and concerts cancelled. All venue events cancelled. All Conventions have gone online. All the things that I did with my friends both local and around the world all gone.

Currently, between my rent job and my now online gaming I have nearly 300hours of screen time in a month.
I don’t know that I can handle any more, thus zoom/whatsapp/video calls are not at all appealing to me, I have also never liked ‘chatting’ on the phone. Many of my local friends are socially responsible people and already have their pods formed or have isolated. So how do I connect with people that I so desperately need to? I love writing. Great! I can write letters—except I can’t cause my room has gotten out of hand and I have no space to write. Clean room has got to go on the list. Except, let’s be more specific since it has to do with the letters.

THINGS I WOULD LIKE TO GET DONE.
  • Write to the candidates, leaders, & parties re: the upcoming speech from the throne.
  • plan meals for the week.
  • run Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday.
  • Clean room
    • Organise game Bookshelf
    • Clean off table
    • Sort donation clothes
  • Write Letters to friends

Finally I took my new, within my control and achievable, list and organised it so that one task can flow into the next.

THINGS I WOULD LIKE TO GET DONE.
  • Clean room
    • Organise game Bookshelf
    • Clean off table
    • Sort donation clothes
  • Write Letters to friends
  • Write to the candidates, leaders, & parties re: the upcoming speech from the throne.
  • plan meals for the week.
  • run Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday.

By working on all this I am finding I am “letting go” of those things that i am out of control because I am not focusing on the. I am putting my effs where they need to be, not where my anxiety thought they should be. I am doing alright with it too. I am keeping the room clean and I got the letter to the politicians emailed out. The letter to friends I decided to start as a generic one I am going to photocopy, anyone who writes back I will do personalised back and for. The food has been good. Did 5 days a week and have some leftovers. The running I am doing ok. I missed a couple days, yet I am still doing it. The smoke is really bad here so running in it is not wise.

The biggest thing though is my stress about all the other stuff is not there. My list gets added to and crossed off as I go. Doing it on paper seems to allow me a satisfaction of crossing something off, and its not another screen to stare at. I am learning to not worry rather than let go, maybe that’s been what it meant the whole time.

Good luck, good vibes, and I hope you are well.
Like really, be well friend

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