Corruption of Youth

Got so used to the sorrow

There was nothing left to feel

Didn’t care for tomorrow

My heart as cold as steel

Giving into the darkness

That started growing in size

When I lost my innocence

When they stripped me of my pride

The sight of my own image

Reminding me of shame

The past renders a grimace

Of agonizing pain

Harrowing injustice

Burning me alive

The devil holds me hostage

Blocking out the light

What I once was

Stoned to death with words

The spark I lost

Never to return

Stuck inside my skin

Sitting out my time

Turning oxygen

Into endless sighs

Yet there is conscience

However discreet

Nurtured with caution

Out of their reach

Hidden deep inside

Behind my lifeless gaze

There is a graceful child

Longing for embrace

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Fierce Clarity

You held up a mirror

Leaving my soul exposed

A truth so bitter

My fate written in stone

Against your words

I am defenseless

Brought back to earth

No longer senseless

I am awakened

For better or worse

Your final warning

Seizing like a curse

You know me better

Than I know myself

My worst enemy

My closest friend

Still as the waters

Caressing the beach

Stark as the winter

So mercilessly

One last touch

You lay upon my head

Without judgement

There’s no more to be said

As I travel

The same road as before

At least I won’t

Be longing anymore

I Am On An Island, No One To Confide

It’s been longer than usual since I last wrote a blog post, which has been the result of a number of factors. For instance, I wanted my first post of the year to be special, but nothing I thought of seemed original enough or appropriate for the time. Also, there was one significant change in my life, but although this led to less time than before, I feel as if I could’ve found the time to write if I really wanted to.

I guess that’s exactly the problem: I didn’t really want to. The reason for this is that there always seemed to be something more urgent that required my attention. I kept asking myself: Why would I invest time in anything that isn’t related to my goals when my dreams still seem so far away?

This mindset isn’t limited to writing this blog, though, as it affects nearly every aspect of my life. Whenever I think about going on vacation for example, the first thought that follows is: Why would I go anywhere else for a while, just to come back to the same mess afterwards? Even the thought of merely going outdoors makes me anxious sometimes, since any progress towards my goals would require me to stay indoors.

What it all comes down to is everything feeling like a waste of time due to the constant reminder that I’m not where I want to be in life. As days go by it’s also getting harder to imagine myself ever reaching that elusive place that, in my mind, is the only way for me to be happy. It’s not that I don’t believe in my dreams anymore, but the lack of progress towards those dreams is making me hopeless.

Anxiety, doubt and confusion are probably the three factors that are holding me back the most. They seem to be particularly harmful for any activity that requires creativity, which is what lies at the core of my greatest ambitions. Once in a while I do get excited thinking about all the things I could create. Yet, this excitement is usually short-lived as I always end up feeling overwhelmed, leading to chaos in my head.

Often I feel as if there is something wrong with me and that I’m the victim of some undiagnosed disorder. This is not something I linger over too much, though, since I don’t feel like there is much I could do about it anyway. I used to spend a lot of time looking up mental disorders to see which symptoms applied to me, which made me feel as if I was learning more about myself. However, eventually I would always be just as stuck as before.

There was a time during which I talked to several psychiatrists in the hopes of finding out if there was something wrong with me. For a while it was nice to have someone to talk to about things that I couldn’t discuss with anyone else. At the same time I still wasn’t comfortable enough to be completely open and act like myself, which probably made it difficult for them to help me. It went together well with my mindset of ‘no one can help me anyway’.

Due to my internship I was forced to take a break from the program and I was sort of relieved to have a reason to stop going for a while. The sessions were supposed to continue when my time as an intern was over, but after receiving an unexpected bill, I decided to cancel the program immediately. To me, the treatment wasn’t worth the money due to the lack of tangible results.

Another reason why I quit the program was that my internship abroad seemed to be all that I needed in the first place, as it allowed me to get away from everything. Being in a place where nobody knew me was like heaven to me. The experience changed my life, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to go abroad since, and being stuck at home has gradually brought back the same confusion and anxiety as before.

On the advice of the therapist at my general practitioner’s office, I went into therapy again. I ended up getting treatment at a different psychiatric institute, though, since the one I went to before had gone bankrupt. This meant having to start from scratch, telling my whole story all over again. This institute’s approach was a little different, but overall it mostly came down to talking sessions.

After the first couple of talks I already felt that it wasn’t going to work, since I felt way less understood than during the sessions with previous psychiatrists. I started getting the feeling that they tried to put me into a certain category, like ‘child of divorced parents’ or ‘gender confusion’, always steering the conversation away from my problems with creativity. Their approach may have been focussed more on the root of these problems rather than finding a solution, but I felt like I didn’t have time for that.

Again it seemed to me like I was paying for a treatment that didn’t get me any results. In my mind it was absurd that an institution that was supposed to help me move forward in life, was only preventing me from investing in things that could actually help me grow, like an online course or another internship. And instead of talking to these psychiatrists I felt much more in need of a friend with similar interests.

Making new friends isn’t as easy as it was when I was a kid, though, when all you had to do was ask one of the other kids to hang out. Back then the only problem was deciding whose house we were going to, while not even thinking about what we would do. Now it seems impossible to connect with others that easily as I feel uncomfortable thinking about any scenario in which I talk to someone. Even if the other person is accepting and has similar interests, I still can’t seem to be myself.

I tend to daydream a lot about someday being able to really be myself and connecting with people in a way that brings out a happy feeling instead of discomfort. Yet, that day never seems to come, which is probably because I’m expecting things to change while I remain the same. Sometimes I think I just haven’t found the right people yet, but having made virtually no friends in the last few years makes it obvious that the problem lies within myself.

Being alone didn’t use to bother me (or at least that’s what I told myself) as I took some kind of pride in not needing anyone. I didn’t understand the allure of going to any kind of social occasion or even just hanging out with friends and considered it a waste of time. To some extent I still don’t understand this, but over time I’ve come to learn how important the relationships you have with other people are and that feeling connected is everything in this life.

Often it’s the smallest gesture that reminds me of the value of social connection. The beauty of a stranger’s unexpected smile, for example, can turn my day around in a way that no individual experience ever could. Even something as simple as a pat on the shoulder can lead to a sense of belonging and acceptance, even if the person giving out the pat isn’t aware of it. Considering this I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that one meaningful conversation could be life-changing.

Forming meaningful relationships is something that seems impossible more often than not, though, and sometimes I feel like those are what I miss in my life the most. I guess this is also what I’m hoping to achieve with realizing my dreams, since I think that I would be way better at communicating if it was done through ideas instead of face-to face conversations. This is why it bothers me so much to be creatively stuck and I sometimes fear that it is leading to an unfulfilled life lived in solitude.

The need of feeling socially connected is probably what keeps bringing me back to this blog, even if it doesn’t make sense to me to keep writing most of the times. It’s nice to be able to use this as an outlet for my thoughts and emotions, but I guess I’d rather express them more ‘artistically’, while perhaps writing blog posts on the side. In the end I just hope that someone can relate to what I’m trying to say, no matter the way in which the message gets across.

I’m sorry if this post got a bit chaotic, although it wouldn’t be a decent reflexion of my mind if I stayed on track the whole time. There are many thoughts and ideas that I’d like to discuss in more detail, but for now I just want to be done with this post. I hope I’ll be able to get it together enough for me to write more consistently and create a more organized blog. In any case, I’m thankful for anyone taking the time to read my posts and I’d be satisfied if you enjoy them half as much as I like to read yours.

Beyond Every Bend, Is A Long Blinding End

Although my ambitions might have taken slightly different forms, my answer to what I want to do with my life has remained unchanged for years. This is quite surprising considering my drastic fear of commitment and desire to keep my options open. From time to time I do get doubtful about what I’ve been referring to as my calling for so long, but in the end I always come back to it being convinced that there is nothing else I can see myself do. Recently, my dreams have led me to take a more unconventional road, or at least one with less certainty, as I have chosen to pursue creative fulfillment over job opportunity. I guess you could say I’ve turned things around by focussing all my attention on plan A after being stuck to plan B for so long. It’s been a quite a grim journey so far, though, with months of panic and uncertainty. Right now I feel like there isn’t much I can do but hope that things will take a turn for the better soon, while taking solace in the fact that at least I’m trying to get closer to my dreams, whether this is the right way to do it and whether this is indeed really what I want.

In my first post I already touched upon my musical ambitions, but I tend to be vague about them because of my insecurity towards my skills and talent. Lacking a musical background and not having a clearly defined plan to reach my goals, definitely makes it difficult to not think about my dreams with a sense of hopelessness and despair. I still try to practice every day, because in my mind that is always the only right thing to do. My main focus is on improving my piano skills, while occasionally picking up the guitar as well. It was only when my teenage years were just behind me that I started to get serious about trying to learn how to play these instruments, but I dreamed of doing something with music long before that. What really started it was the interest I took in dancing as a child. From there, singing was soon added to the picture, which made me obsessed about being on a stage one day. As I got older I gradually became compelled with the idea of creating music myself as well, but at the same time there was a dark cloud above my head that was silently increasing in size.

As the years went on, it became more difficult to express myself creatively and before I knew it, I had stopped trying all together. Drawing, painting, writing, making music, all of these things had all of a sudden become cumbersome activities that didn’t make sense to me anymore. Somewhere along the way I unknowingly lost the mindset that I had while drawing freely as a child and I didn’t know where to start to get it back. The joy and freedom of creating had been replaced by confusion and fear of failure. This in combination with the lack of incentive to exercise my creative muscle was a recipe for disaster. Switching between playing video games and vacantly surfing the internet had become the norm during a big part of my teenage years. Yet, at the same time there was a feeling of emptiness that was getting increasingly harder to ignore. It took me years to figure out what was happening to me, but being aware of my problem did not make it less difficult to solve it or deal with it.

Although there was an enlightening aspect to this new awareness, it also provided me with a form of anxiety that I had never experienced before. First there was the guilt I felt for having spend so much of my free time playing video games and watching Youtube videos, when I could have been trying to learn to play guitar. Whether this excessive engagement in leisure activities was a way of dealing with high school stress or the result of not knowing any better was hard to tell. It didn’t really matter anyway, because I couldn’t change the past and the present offered a more urgent problem, which was dealing with the overwhelming feeling of trying to spend every hour from that point on in the most productive and meaningful way. After thinking about it for a while, I decided to buy a guitar, even though I didn’t necessarily have a passion for the instrument. It seemed like a logical decision considering my ambitions, but the vague goal of ‘getting good at guitar’ led me to get sidetracked again. Although my mindset had changed, the lack of incentive remained the same.

The result may have been an unintended experimental phase during which I shifted my attention from one thing to the next with an almost polymathic urge. I say ‘almost’, with strong emphasis, since I rarely stuck to anything long enough to internalize it or discover connections between different subjects or disciplines. Music remained the main goal, but I figured that I may as well pick up drawing again on the side as well as try to learn that language that I’d always been interested in. The endless resources on the internet seemed like a blessing that at the least made my polymathic ambitions seem less unattainable. I started following online courses on many different subjects and increasingly used Youtube as a source for self-directed learning instead of shallow entertainment. Learning new things was exciting, and all it took was typing in what I wanted to learn and pay attention. After a while I started noticing that even with the immense amount of knowledge that was only a mouse-click away, I wasn’t really getting anywhere. Then again, my direction was never that clear, even though I had an abstract image in my head of what a desirable destination would look like.

There were probably a number of different factors that caused me to drift again, like a lack of structure, my short attention-span, my increasing insecurities and not having a deadline. Yet, I think there was also an underlying form of FOMO at play that fueled my irrational desire of living multiple lives at once. Even though I felt so certain about what I wanted most, there was this recurring impulse to focus on something that was not completely consistent with my ambitions. A reason for this may have been that I never outgrew my habit of wanting to be like the people I look up to and getting obsessed with emulating them. This means that when I’ve watched a video in which John Mayer plays guitar for over a minute, it’s pretty safe to say I’ll be spending the evening with a guitar in my hands. The next day I might watch a concert by Coldplay and get fixated on improving my piano skills. As a child it was even worse as I didn’t care for limiting myself to a certain field. Back then I was certain that I was going to be a football player, while at the same time seeing it as my destiny to become a martial artist. Fortunately, I’ve gotten my priorities more straight since then, although never say never, right?

Of course, I realize that there are worse ways to spend my time than trying to become more versatile as an artist. Yet, the lack of tangible results is what makes me rethink my approach over and over again. It’s gotten to the point where even practicing and self-study seem like forms of procrastination. For a long time I may have been fooling myself into believing that I needed to master a certain skill or be at a certain level before I could start creating. In this regard my thinking proces reminds me of that of the Englishman in The Alchemist, who believes that he needs to bury himself in his books about alchemy and meet the alchemist himself before he can start attempting what is referred to as the ‘Master Work’. At one point he says, “It was my fear of failure that first kept me from attempting the Master Work. Now, I’m beginning what I could have started ten years ago. But I’m happy at least that I didn’t wait twenty years“. The Englishman’s words really struck a chord with me, as did the whole book, which is all about following your destiny. It’s been almost a year since I read it, though, and my destiny still feels far out of reach.

The way I spend my time these days is still somewhat similar to my description above, although I focus more on music as I’ve learned to let go of the idea of being able and having the time to do everything. Overall, I still have the feeling of being stuck and barely achieving progress, but since I started following a part-time music program, my plan A has at least become more structured. Creating is still a cumbersome activity for me, and having many unattempted and unfinished ideas floating through my mind gives me a headache. For now all I can do is to just keep trying. My circumstances will most likely not change any time soon, so I must make a change within myself. I realize that I have waited for some miraculous change of events for too long. The insecurity and fear of failure will probably always be there to some extent, but I don’t want them to lead to inactivity any longer. In the future I hope, then, to be able to tell you that I didn’t wait another five years to begin what I could’ve started ten years before.

Driven To Distraction, It’s All Part Of The Plan

With the endless amount of entertaining and interesting content in the form of music, literature, TV shows, podcasts, video games, Youtube videos etc., I think most of us are set for life when it comes to escaping a feeling of boredom. The creators of this content seem to work more relentlessly than ever as I find it hard to keep up with their consistent output of original, compelling ideas. In my head I’m constantly making lists of shows that I still need to watch or albums by my favorite artists that I have to listen to, and thanks to streaming services like Netflix and Apple Music, it has never been easier to be engaged with my interests. The possibility of entertaining ourselves with whatever we want at any time we want, has given us more freedom than ever in choosing how we spend our time.

My desire to fill in every hour of the day in a way that has value to me, has definitely been easier to fulfill because of this freedom of choice. I would hate having to settle for something I don’t find inspiring in some way as a result of people behind TV or radio stations having control over the content that is available to me. At the end of the day, I know what I like best and I feel blessed to be able to consistently spend my limited time on earth in ways that align with my interests. Besides services meant for entertainment purposes, there is a wide range of educational content available online that allows us to develop ourselves on many different levels and thanks to e-commerce we can buy almost anything we can dream of. Through the internet we’ve been given the power to design our own realities in ways that were unimaginable thirty years ago. Yet, as I’ve learned from my favorite superhero comic, with great power comes great responsibility.

Despite all the benefits of anything you can imagine being one click away, it’s difficult not to get lost in the ocean of information that we can access wherever we are. Some people struggle with it more than others, but I think it’s safe to say that we all battle with not letting ourselves get distracted too much in different ways. For me it’s trying to find the right balance between leisure time and doing work that gets me closer to my goals. Most of the time I feel too insecure to do any meaningful creative work, at which point I turn to repetitive practice or shallow self-study. Although I’m not really deviating from my goals this way, taking this ‘middle road’ never fills me with a sense of accomplishment, which eventually leads to a feeling of guilt whenever I indulge in nonchalant leisure activities. I find it to be very difficult to break this cycle, especially since I’m often able to justify getting distracted in one way or another. The constant battle in my head leaves me tired and without answers, which eventually becomes yet another excuse to turn to distraction.

What I mean by justifying getting distracted, is that in the moment itself it makes sense to me when, for example, after sitting at a desk for three or four hours I want to have a big lunch that takes about half an hour to prepare. Then, it seems like such a waste to eat it while staring at a wall, at which point I turn to Netflix to add more value to the experience. This way, these breaks usually end up taking about an hour, after which I tend to feel calmer, yet still guilty. At this point there’s about an hour left before I can start thinking about taking a nap. This sparks up another battle in my mind between the voice saying I’m not working hard enough and the one telling me I need to rest to regain energy so I can be more productive later on. Often all it takes is the sight of two tired-looking eyes staring back at me in the mirror to convince me that staying awake isn’t the best option. After getting some sleep, most of my time is lost on doing a work out, eating dinner and showering. In the evening I try to compensate for feeling like I didn’t get enough work done, but since I feel too stressed to do any real creative work, I settle on mindless practicing again before reading and going to bed.

This back and forth between nerve-racking practice and guilt-ridden pleasure is unsurprisingly not getting me anywhere. So often have I vowed to change my ways, only to eventually find myself stuck in the same cycle as always. There have been times where my obligations forced me to break my habits and routines for an extended period of time, but since these obligations typically did not align with my ambitions, I tended to fall into the mindset of ‘holding my breath until it was over’. During these times I was able to get an otherwise unfamiliar feeling of progress because of the achieved results that were stimulated by deadlines. Yet, a feeling of fulfillment was always missing, which is why any sense of accomplishment would usually be short-lived. It would make sense then to try to apply a similar approach to making progress towards what I consider my true ambitions, but somehow any self-appointed deadline always gets sucked into the black hole of fear and confusion that is at the center of my mind.

After everything I explained above, it might not be surprising that it took me over a month just to write this. I didn’t write every day, though, and my life has been everything but steady during the past few months. Yet, I’m afraid that even if my situation was more balanced, I still wouldn’t have gotten much more done as a result of my lack of attention. Besides that, I don’t really consider blog writing ‘my thing’ and I don’t know if anybody will ever read my posts, which ultimately seems to be the goal. I guess I just wanted to challenge myself to doing something that has been on my mind for so long and it felt like I was going to explode if I kept my thoughts locked up any longer. Throughout these last turbulent months I did keep writing my so-called mind clearances on paper, though. What has allowed me to be consistent in filling up at least a page of my thoughts in this way, is that it is a part of my morning routine. I often considered replacing them or adding to them writing these blog posts, but after having sat at my desk for half an hour just doing the same routine, the pressure to work on something that aligns more with my ambitions takes the best of me.

Judging by the popularity of Youtube videos about productivity methods, it seems that a lot of people struggle to make the best of their time and I think for most of us it goes deeper than simply ‘not knowing what to do’. Millennials are often called ‘the purpose generation’, and although I’m not a fan of generalizations, it is a label that I don’t mind being associated with. The urge to spend our time in a meaningful way is something I definitely sense among writers on a site like this, which is why I gravitated towards this community even though I don’t consider myself a writer at all. For some reason, though, this platform has enabled me to work on an idea and actually get it out there, even if it took me way longer than planned. I don’t know exactly what the meaning is of this blog post. No one told me to write it and no one may read it, so I guess I wrote it for myself. I can at least consider it a small victory that I didn’t let yet another one of my ideas go to waste due to the endless amount of ways to get distracted. That alone made it worth the effort.

A City I´ve Never Been

Starting a blog at this turbulent and uncertain point in my life seems inappropriate, and I am not even sure what to write about. Yet after a long period of passiveness, during which there was plenty of time to explore the world of blogging, this expected change of events has led me to want to try things I wouldn’t have considered before. This is not all that new to me, though, since I have been writing what I call ‘mind clearances’ for about a year and a half now. I know this term sounds like some authoritarian government’s technique to control its citizens, but to me everything is better than ‘brain dump’. The mind clearances that I write on paper can get quite unstructured, because I don’t have any specific rules when penning them down. With blogging I want to take a more linear approach, which will hopefully develop automatically as I’ll keep a possible audience reading my posts in the back of my head as I write.

The title of this first post has been my first attempt at keeping things more organized. It’s a lyric from the song Trust Me by my favorite band, The Fray. It refers to my recent move out of my hometown into a big city two and a half hours away. I still spend most of my days at home for now, though, but that will probably soon change. Music will likely be a recurring subject throughout this blog, because it plays such a big part in my life. The music I listen to has helped me to make sense of the world around me as I often feel lost inside it. I therefore find that using lyrics by my favorite artists is a great way to express my emotions in a way that comes natural. I try to write lyrics or poetry myself as well, but haven’t shared any of it yet. For this blog I mainly want to focus on my interests and experiences for now just to keep it simple.

What this blog will definitely not be about is me telling its readers what to do or believe. Never will you find a post titled something like ‘How to live a more meaningful life’ or ‘7 ways to become more productive’. I don’t have any problems with these kind of articles, and actually read them myself from time to time, but I would be lying if I said that any of them have made a huge difference in my life. To me, their authors sometimes try to objectify a subjective truth by generalizing the audience too much and offering one-size-fits-all solutions. Besides that, I see myself as the last person anyone should come to for advice, since I don’t know what I’m doing either and still try to figure it all out myself. What I would like to do, though, is share my experiences and thoughts in a way that will hopefully have a positive effect on anyone who reads about them.

While writing this I’m getting more and more doubtful about this whole idea. It often feels like my insecurities control my life as they are the main reason for my lack of action. I can always find a reason to worry about something, which then leads to indecisiveness. Writing this blog, for example, feels very straight forward and personal, and therefore uncharacteristic of me as a person. To most people I come across as very introverted, although I’m not sure what to make of it myself. I guess it’s just easier for me to be more reserved, but I would not consider it a fixed personality trait. My greatest ambition would actually require me to do certain things that most people would associate with an extraverted person. Often I just feel like I’m made out of clay, taking whatever shape is needed to get through the day.

I feel as if that last sentence could be part of a song or poem that I would struggle trying to write. This brings me to another reason why I have doubts about blogging in this way. I’m afraid of not expressing myself artistically enough and using this blog as just another distraction from trying to write a story or song. There are a lot of ideas floating around in my head, but I haven’t been able to work them out all the way and show them to someone. I’m so desperate to see a change, which is why I hope blogging will open up doors for me creatively by gaining confidence in my writing. At the end of the day, I would already consider this a success if someone can relate to the things I talk about. Just that feeling of being connected to others in this way makes it worth the risk and effort of exploring unfamiliar territory.

I know I tend to contradict myself and I hope you’re able to bear with me while I try to sort things out. Hopefully this blog will help me to come to new conclusions through writing and the feedback from whoever reads it. No longer do I want to be held back by my insecurities and fears to show more of myself. It’s scary to be vulnerable, but the thought of letting my soul silently fade away is even scarier. Just as with my new room in this big city, I want to try and make this blogging thing work. This post might not be that insightful, but I hope that I’ll be able to look back later and be thankful that I started somewhere.

To close off, a picture of the view from my room this morning.