So lessons 2 and 3 go hand in hand. They’re lessons I’ve been working on learning for some time now but they really hit home and gosh I hope they stuck after this year.
Way back in the dark days, when I was at my very worst, I really thought, had decided actually, that I would never travel again. And that was ok because I’d done a lot of travelling and seen a bit of the world. And even though I *love* travelling, it was ok that I just wasn’t going to do that anymore. Except that a) that was my anxiety, OCD and depression talking and b) I LOVE travelling. And I wanted to go to World Fantasy Con in Saratoga Springs. I was just starting to fall into the scene, starting up Twelfth Planet Press. And a lot of Aussies were going that year. And Tansy said to me, instead of deciding that you can’t go, why don’t you figure out *how* you could go – figure out what you’d need or how you can navigate (the OCD). In other words, if you need to take a bunch of antibacterial handgel and use it every five minutes but it enables you to go and have the experience, then Do That. (And I’ll add that that was before the world freaked out about Swine Flu. Now it’s not weird at all to use hand gel and wipe down your tray or whatever. At the time, I had to be in therapy. But whatevs.)
Firstly, how lucky am I to have such awesome friends? Secondly, I went. I fell in love with WFC, I found my home. It grew my friendship with Jonathan. Going freed me – in more ways than one. It broke my mindset about not doing things that might scare me or put me out of my comfort zone. It opened my publishing world. And it ended my relationship with my ex – I always had this feeling that if I went to WFC, I’d come home single. And I did. And it was the best thing that could have happened to me at that time. And the funniest thing was getting on that plane to Sydney? The OCD melted away and I didn’t even really need a whole bunch of the management tools I’d put in place to deal with myself.
In some ways, looking at the world like that – what do I need to be ok with this [whatever "this" is in the moment] was a great tactic. In others, I guess it might have fuelled my OCD. I think C just works around what’s left of that. At least it’s nowhere near as unhinged as it was.
This year I’ve had a lot on to confront in terms of wanting to push forward and do things and having to fight off the darkness in my head. And I’ve had to work a lot to find management tools to make it ok. Or as Tansy now says, I’ve had to figure out how to hack my own brain. Lots of this year was about taking it a day at a time and there’s something nicely zen about that, or there would be if being in the moment wasn’t about how sick I felt. I had some really big, confronting decisions to make. They required being honest with myself and my work arounds. I was lucky to have so many people around me to discuss them with and to feel like I was in a safe, nonjudgmental place. And standing now on the other side of that, I realised that in troubleshooting ahead of time and making choices that were the best ones for me, meant that I could have positive experiences. That I don’t always need to push myself over the edge to prove some point to myself about … I dunno? I can actually be kind and understanding of how I tick and work with, not against, that. And that by doing so, I ensure that I am mentally robust.
And this lesson leads into the third, and possibly most profound lesson I learned this year. This lesson was to learn to tune out the white noise. Everyone has an opinion and everyone has advice. But the most important thing to remember about that is unless they are privy, they most likely are not giving that opinion or advice within the context that is relevant *to you*. Something can be true and not applicable to you at the same time. Something can be “the best choice” in a level playing field but if that’s not where you are playing your game, it may no longer be best. And what I hope I learned this year is how to reduce the value I have previously placed on white noise. To not care so much what other people, out there, think about the choices that I make or who I am or what I choose to do or how I live my life. But also, to be less judgmental of others and their choices, since no doubt I am not privy to the context within which they made theirs.