Recently, I worked with a coach who helped me to realize that I have a pretty messed up relationship with time. Namely, there’s some part of me that thinks I can “win” at time. Well, good luck with that, self. Working with her, I noticed that I’ve got a lot of personal baggage around time, but it’s also thoroughly wrapped up in white dominant culture and capitalism.
Plenty has been said about how white people view time as linear, and that’s sort of weird, but I hadn’t fully grasped it until I started thinking about how I view my long-term goals and values. I realized that I was thinking about most things in life as something I would build upon gradually, but ultimately max out towards the end of my life. In other words, there’s some ultimate goal that you’re trying to achieve on a more or less straight path. But in fact, that doesn’t make much sense. What I really want is to be able to live with my values and reach goals throughout my life, with a certain amount of flux expected for prioritizing and re-prioritizing alongside life circumstances.
All right, y’all, it’s confession time. While I’ve never found it super easy to be consistent in my writing and activism, the past year has been especially hard. I’ve struggled with extremely low energy, sometimes sleeping as many as 16 out of 24 hours in a day, and rarely fewer than 11-12. I was always a big sleeper, but this is getting ridiculous. One day, my roommate said to me “God, if I slept as much as you do, I’d never get anything done!” and a lightbulb clicked. Not only is low energy a legit medical issue, but it’s also pretty disabling.
Even when I’m in a healthier place, I have trouble getting everything done. I live a fairly typical millennial existence of FOMO, decision fatigue, and constantly rebooting my productivity processes to optimize, optimize, optimize. I came to terms a few years ago with the fact that activism was never going to be my full-time gig, but I’m still holding on to a lot of guilt when promises come in late or not at all, e-mails go unanswered, and my TBR shelf remains very solidly TBR.
This week my labs came back and I found out that I am very B-12 deficient and also a little D deficient. I don’t know yet if supplements will be the magical pill that cures everything, but of course I quickly started dreaming about what it would be like to have more time in my day. Time to check items off my to-do list, but also time to do silly things, to watch TV, to read books. That said, even if I get a few hours back in my life, it doesn’t change the underlying fact that I feel guilty when I don’t do things. And why, really?
Yesterday, I nearly had a breakdown when I realized that I’d let my feed reader go unchecked long enough that some items are gone and unrecoverable. Noooo! What if that blog post held the meaning of the universe, life, and everything? (Say it with me now.) But then today, I looked at my much-shorter unread count and actually read the articles. And I was done. And while there’s still a lingering desire to punish myself for losing something forever due to slacking off, it’s also nice to see that empty queue. And maybe it’s okay, just like every time I e-mail someone apologetically after radio silence, they tell me that it’s perfectly okay. Okay? Is it okay to be okay? I think it might be. So this isn’t an apology for the sporadic nature of my contributions of the Internet, but more some thoughts and feelings to put out there about spoons, disability, and the nature of communication. If you’re feeling the same way? I give you permission to release as much as that guilt as you can. You’re okay too.
It probably says something that I’m doing a New Year’s post two weeks into the year, but as John and Sherlock would tell you on the BBC, it is what it is.
This post isn’t about the clusterfuck that was 2016 in the world, or the Trump presidency, but rather a short collection of personal thoughts about what 2017 might mean for me and what 2016 did. Some of you may have noticed that I’ve been quieter in public in recent months. A large part of this has to do with wrestling with what actual accountability means as a white person trying to be involved in countering white supremacy. I’m less comfortable with public activism than I used to be, because I don’t want my voice to be one of the loudest. But I expect that I’ll continue to write, albeit at this slow pace I’ve settled into, for many years to come.
While I do less public speaking and writing about general queerness, wanting to make space for QTPOC voices, I have been still thinking about areas where my contribution might be more appropriate. So I’ve done a few talks on trans-inclusivity in data, melding my day job with my side hustle, and I’m excited that B Cordelia Yu and I will be presenting together at the Nonprofit Technology Conference in March on that topic. I’ve also toyed with a podcast idea, but it burned bright for a few weeks and then energy drained away, much as it’s been with wanting to learn to draw comics, designing games, etc. And that brings me to the real point of this post, which is figuring out how to make contributions when your mental health just doesn’t want to let you.