Gettin’ self-reflective

2015: it Certainly Was a Year, wasn’t it?

I know a lot of folks had a hard time this past year and are glad to see it go. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it, looking back. (I’m just focusing on the personal, here: I’m disheartened and outraged about politics and current events and that’s all I have the energy to say.) To be honest, I struggled with my mental health a lot this year. I hate admitting when it’s a problem, or really talking about it at all, and I think I was able to hide it from most folks for a good bit of the time, but the problem was still there. After a marked improvement I’ve been in a pretty bad downswing lately; I’m really hoping it was a mix of holiday stress and limited daylight and that things will start to get better, but I suppose I’ll find out soon enough.

Despite the shadow of my asshole brain looming over much of the year, there was a lot that was wonderful, too; I want to take some time to dive into all the good shit that happened while I’m still trying to claw my way out of the hole I’m in.

Personal achievements:

I am still so pleased that I made the nail polish swap at Wiscon happen. It’s a little thing but I had a lot of fun with it! I still feel like a Wiscon Newbie in many ways and this was a nice little baby-step towards feeling like more of a part of things than just an observer (and being on more panels this time helped with that as well).

I WROTE A STORY. FINALLY. I have a folder full of abandoned drafts for SSBB stories, and to be honest I’d mostly given up on ever completing one. I’ve always been someone who writes stories in their mind but doesn’t write them down; before this my one finished story was a fic I wrote for a fqf (ha! remember those?) back in 2005. But an idea jumped out at me and I wrote a story in ~48 hours that I’m still really happy with. I do think this has helped cement my reputation as “that guy who thinks about sex with aliens, like, all the time” and that’s not entirely inaccurate, so. I’ll take it.

Honestly I wish I felt like I’d done more for Scarleteen this year, but that might just be me being hard on myself. I didn’t write as much for the site, but I’ve been keeping at it and only really taken time off when I’m traveling (and a couple mental health days where I had to cut things short). Mostly I count this as an achievement because the times where I felt like I did something to help someone I really felt it. It’s been about three years that I’ve been volunteering and I’m committed to continuing and improving.

Friendships/relationships:

This was the Year of Friends, for me. Sadly one thing I’ve realized is that I’m not always great at keeping up with people, even those I care deeply about and think about often. I’m trying to get better at this and I apologize to folks I’m not in touch with as much as I was or want to be.

But! That said, I was able to connect with a lot of new people this year and strengthen existing friendships. My friends are so fantastic and I just want to travel the world hugging them (or nodding affectionately if they’re not into hugs) and cooking together and talking all night. I met SO MANY people in person and it was fantastic every time (although I intensified some crushes as a side effect of in-person interaction, OOPS). I feel like I connect so much better in person and it’s always wonderful to have that experience with someone I’ve only interacted with via text. Life would be easier if people weren’t so far away, but it does make those in-person moments all the more special. I traveled a good bit to visit friends and while a lot of travel can be exhausting, I want to try and make that happen some more this year. I’m hesitant to invite myself to visit people I haven’t visited before (especially if there isn’t another obvious reason to go to their town) but maybe I can get more courage on that front?

I want to do better at maintaining friendships with local folks, too. One of my mental health problems this year has been that I’ve had a hard time initiating plans and that’s meant I haven’t seen some people as often as I’d like, and I want put more effort into this even though it’s tough for me. I did learn that setting up regular get-togethers on a set schedule is a great way for me to socialize in a lower-stress way, so I should apply that lesson elsewhere.

I’m still figuring out how to do long-distance romantic relationships in a way that works for me. I know what doesn’t work, and I feel like I’m doing pretty well right now. I do wish coast-to-coast travel were easier; it would be nice to see far-away partners more than a couple times per year for sure. But I think I’m managing ok, and right now it’s worth it. All partners I am currently involved with are wonderful people, A+, would smooch again.

I would LOVE to have a local dating partner but haven’t quite worked up the energy to throw myself into online dating or getting involved in other activities to widen my pool of acquaintances in town. Maybe this year I’ll get on that. Honestly, lately I find that I’m nursing a lot of crushes on friends (all non-local, of course), which is typical for me.

Sexuality:

As someone whose sexual partners have been mostly long-distance and only rarely-seen for a while now, my sexual feels very private and internal. Lately I’ve been trying to be more open with myself about my desires and it’s been an interesting journey. It’s not always easy to know what sounds good for partnered sex and what’s best mulled over on my own (especially when time for experimentation is very limited) but it’s been on my mind. I’m hoping for more chances to do some exploration with partners in the future. I’ve started a private twitter as a way to give myself more space for talking about sexual things but while I’ve used it some I’m still shy enough to be pretty self-censoring; only a tiny bit of what I’m thinking gets shared there.

BUT I will say that in-person I’ve gotten better at asking for what I want and enjoying myself without much self-consciousness. I love laughing during sex and it’s something that doesn’t happen unless I’m relaxed and happy – and that definitely happened this year. 

WTF even is my gender, y’all:

I know I’ve talked about my discomfort with being overtly male-identified, and my struggles to tease out whether that’s due to the nature of toxic masculinity and my desire to distance myself from it, or if it’s just because…I’m just not a guy at all. I like the pronouns people use for me! I like the beard! But even the tenuous connection I had with masculinity and maleness seems to be pretty thin now, if it exists at all. The ? has been replaced by ???!? and it is simultaneously weird/confusing and just not a big deal. I don’t know, and that’s fine. Maybe it’ll stop being fine at some point, but for now it doesn’t seem to be an issue. No one’s interrogating me for my gender and if I have to say something, so far being vaguely hand-wavy hasn’t been a problem.

Relatedly, my “femme-curious” self-descriptor continues to be accurate. Maybe I’m more than curious now? I’m still not sure (but again, that’s fine). I am still baffled by this development: mid-year I nervously started experimenting with makeup and I am loving it. It’s weird and confusing and a lot of fun. I do sometimes feel anxious going out in the world as “obviously dude-presenting person with dark blue shimmery eyeshadow” but overall that anxiety is cooling off as time goes on. And the chance to play around with color and just enjoy myself  has been really great for me. As always I’m walking a long road towards feeling better about my body and continuing to find ways to enjoy how I look (see also: my occasional vanity shots of my legs in thigh-high socks) helps! I’m still taking/sharing a lot of selfies and I still feel like that’s a big positive force in my life.

Plans/goals: 

I don’t know, y’all. I’m not a very ambitious person and I don’t make a lot of Big Plans for the future. I’m not sure if that’s a personal flaw or not.

I’d love to write more this year, whether that’s writing more ST columns or another SSBB story. I’d love to keep up with my friends and loved ones better. I’d love to be more honest about my mental health when it’s getting bad, instead of retreating into myself and hoping no one notices.. I’d love to go hiking more. I’d love to travel to see friends and partners but also visit places I’ve never been before.

The people in my life were wonderful this year and I want to focus on strengthening those connections, getting to know people better and sharing myself with them. If you’ve made it this far MOST LIKELY we’re friends already, so hey: I appreciate you! Thanks.

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