More Time Means More Procrastinating

I had a few ideas for this week and I even started a couple but ended up disliking them. I feel like some of my favorite posts are those that I’ve had very little time to write. It probably has something to do with living with an idea. Sometimes, the longer I think about an idea, the less I want to write about it. I live with them in my head for weeks and feel great about writing. Other ideas I live with for a while and only hate once I’ve written something about them. I have yet to figure out what differentiates these ideas.

For some reason, I thought that once I got out of school I wouldn’t have any reason to procrastinate. There are no papers to write or classes to get to. There aren’t any professors breathing down my back about getting my novel done. I’ve got work and church and beyond that pretty much only what I actively choose to take on.

Most often I write my blog post for the week at the last minute. I get up to Saturday, usually work until 9pm, get home close to 10pm, then have to come up with something quickly to post before midnight. Sometimes that backfires and I end up with nothing worth posting. But I’ve done it enough that it works out more often than it doesn’t. So that’s great but I’m not sure what lesson I should be learning. I don’t LIKE to wait until Saturday to write but it just works out that way most often.

Maybe it’s less about things “working out” this way and more about a mindset I’ve started putting myself in. I’d much rather have a backlog of posts that I can publish at my leisure. I actually tried that at the beginning but found I really didn’t like the posts after a few weeks so I gave up on it. I think I just get more critical over time and also, as I write, I come up with lots of different avenues in my head. I try to think about different angles and how I truly feel about the topic. So by the time I actually hit publish, I’ve exhausted the topic in my head. I’ve already thought of all these things in ten different ways. It feels old and I’ve heard it a million times and it’s boring. Which makes me feel like my audience is going to be bored even though, objectively, I know it will be the first time they’re reading my thoughts.

When I write Saturday night and hit publish right off, it makes the topic feel less old to me. I sit down, write something I didn’t even know I was going to write, then send it off into the world. (I do minor edits beforehand for grammar and flow, it’s not technically an immediate publish.) So here I am again on a Saturday night, writing a post on the fly, hoping it all turns out okay.

It has so far.



No Regerts

I don’t think regret is a particularly useful feeling. I actively try to avoid it, personally. I don’t want to be that old person in 2058 saying I regret doing/not doing something. I refuse to be that person. I refuse to spend my life regretting what I cannot change.

Regret comes up a lot. According to Google, regret is “a feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over something that has happened or been done.” (That’s the noun definition, it’s also a verb.)

In general, this isn’t a bad thing. If you regret something then hopefully that helps you learn. That sums up my thoughts really well, actually. I hate feeling sorry for myself. I don’t let myself do it. I’ve definitely learned over the course of my relatively short life that whatever feeling you let in is going to multiply. Not to say that if you feel sad you’re only ever going to be sad; the feelings you dwell on and spend the most mental energy on are the ones that will grow. So if I choose to dwell on that stupid thing I said to a waiter 5 years ago then that embarrassment is going to fester and grow. The more I feed it, the more times I think about it, the more times I think about it, the more it affects me.

That’s a benign example. We all say or do something embarrassing from time to time. Getting over it is just part of life. But regret can come in much more difficult packages. The death of a loved one tends to bring out all the regret. Sometimes it’s regret for saying something you didn’t mean. Sometimes it’s for not spending time with them.

Well, guess what? It’s too late now. You’re going to have to come to terms with that. It sucks and feels bad but you can’t spend the rest of your life wishing to change the past. Instead, change the future. Be better now. That’s all you can do.

Honestly, I started thinking about all of this because, as my dad was leaving for the week I said, “Bye, it was nice knowing you.”

And he said something like, “You know, if I don’t come back then you’ll regret that.”

To which I said I wouldn’t. I would have nothing to regret from that being the last thing I ever said to my dad. Sure, it was a bit sarcastic but it was not untrue.

One way I avoid regret is saying what I mean to say. Another is remembering that God is working everything together for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28). So everything happens for a reason. Sometimes that reason is we made a mistake. So? It is not the first time and it will certainly not be the last (although we can hope!).

I won’t spend my energy on regret. When I don’t do something I should or I do the thing I shouldn’t then I will feel bad for a while. Then I will learn from it. I will move on. It seems a useless thing to continually beat myself up about something that I have no power over. The past is the past. I can let it eat me up or I can fix my eyes on God and keep going.

Status Report: Unchanged

It’s been a month since I talked about letting God prepare me for the rest of my life. And I have no progress. Seriously.

I wrote an entire post about how I was afraid of doing things God might have for me but I need to draw near to God anyway. Yet I’ve really done next to nothing new to do that in the last month. Instead I’ve watched too many Youtube videos and worked a lot. It feels like I have an innate desire to NOT help myself. Maybe I was just lying to myself in that post and am still afraid. Maybe I’m just incredibly lazy.

Going back to my new year resolutions I realize that the post about God preparing me and the resolution post have something in common: No clear goals.

I know I said in my resolutions post that I didn’t want to set anything in stone because it didn’t work really well the year before. Now I’m having second thoughts about that. I need some clear goals. I need to kick myself to get moving on doing something real in my life. Or, more specifically, my spiritual life.

So here we go. I’m making some concrete memorization and reading goals because if I don’t do it then it’s never going to be done.

Reading goals: Finish reading Psalms from last year and read through Proverbs. Finish reading Red Queen and read my copy of Girls’ Auto Clinic Glovebox Guide (in preparation for getting a car sometime soon).

Memorization goals: Romans chapters 1-4 by the end of December.

I’m going to write these out (along with the resolutions from my post) and put them up somewhere I can see them. Hopefully, that will be a good enough reminder to get things done this year!

I’m never going to be perfect. I’m still working on motivating myself and being able to write goals that work (but still challenge). I learned a lot about myself last year with my resolutions and I expect to keep learning more this year. Hopefully that learning will also include me getting my rear in gear and actually moving forward with life.

Information Bubble

Information Bubble

For the last, maybe, two weeks, I’ve been watching a lot of conservative Youtube channels. While I’ve been conservative for many years, I hadn’t ever gone out of my way to watch Youtube channels from fellow conservatives. The internet can be pretty awful and Youtube can be a good platform for extremists so I wasn’t interested in going off that deep end.

Well, I finally did and it hasn’t been bad. I’ve found some really smart people making some great videos. I’ve also found people who are not as smart, are on the right track, but don’t know as much as they think they know. I’ve also found that Youtube is really good at putting you in an information bubble.

Information Bubble definition from Wikipedia: A state of intellectual isolation that can result from personalized searches when a website algorithm selectively guesses what information a user would like to see.

Because I’ve watched Ben Shapiro and a few other well-known conservative creators, Youtube thinks that’s ALL I WANT TO WATCH. So the only thing they recommend to me are conservative videos from conservative creators. It makes it feel like the rest of Youtube, liberals specifically, don’t exist. I know in the back of my mind that they’re on the platform but it’s easy to think they only live in the clips of conservative creators.

**As an aside: I don’t have any desire to go out of my way to watch liberal content creators on Youtube specifically. It usually makes me angry and frustrated. I will talk to people in person, I read articles from many sources, and I have friends on my social media who have very different views than I do. I think it’s something about the videos specifically. They tend to get very heated and while on articles and in person I can respond to the insanity I’m witnessing, Youtube is notorious for having very bad comment sections that are NOT the place for rational discussion. So why would I go out of my way to make myself angry about something that I can’t even respond to?**

I experienced an information bubble last year during the summer when I was basically only watching movie reviewers on Youtube. The only thing Youtube was suggesting was more movie reviewers and not even new ones! I ended up watching and rewatching the same creators over and over. At that point I didn’t know how to get out of it. I knew that I’d inadvertently allowed Youtube to put me in that bubble but I didn’t know how to pop it. I think eventually I ended up clicking the one random video in my recommendations that wasn’t a movie review (I do wonder if Youtube’s algorithm gives a super random video occasionally just FOR this reason). I wasn’t interested in watching it, it wasn’t a topic I cared about, but I followed a random path of videos from that one, and it popped the bubble.

It’s very frustrating that our modern social media can very easily do this to us. It’s not something exclusive to Youtube, it’s just a site where it is VERY obvious when it happens. Google does it to you whether you notice or not. It’s nice because you get really specific results that fit to your location and interests. But it’s hard to pop the bubble because usually, you don’t even know what to look for. You don’t know what information will stop it because how can you know what you’re not even shown?

I’ve gotten caught up in a conservative information bubble. It’s not as bad as the movie review bubble but I think that it matters more. Because watching movie reviews is just a hobby, an interest, it’s like if you were into rock climbing and you watched a lot of rock climbers. Whatever, it’s just an interest. But a conservative bubble or a liberal bubble or a libertarian bubble is detrimental because now you’re ideologically isolated. There are a host of negative side effects to this and you should be careful to not let it happen.

It’s perfectly fine to have a lot of sources that reinforce your beliefs and political ideologies but if you shouldn’t allow yourself to completely ignore the other side. We can’t just move through life sheltering ourselves from everything that we disagree with or even that we’re not interested in. Obviously the latter is less important because it’s just personal interests, but it’s important to not be in an echo chamber of your own ideologies because you’ll never grow that way.

Personal Responsibility

This week I learned that the idea of personal responsibility is so part of my personality that I often come off as insensitive and mean.

A friend of mine had surgery recently and she’s not supposed to be lifting anything heavy. My sister and I went over to visit her and help her with things around the house, specifically, getting her daughter’s bath done because she shouldn’t be lifting a two-year-old into a tub. My friend was getting the bath ready and she proceeded to lift the baby into the tub herself at which point my sister stepped in and took over, getting my friend out of the way entirely. Me? Well, I just stood there, being completely useless.

I had to give it some thought later on. Why would I just stand there when my friend clearly needed someone to step in? Why wouldn’t I help out when I KNOW she needs it?

Here’s what I came up with: Personal responsibility.

I believe VERY strongly that we each need to deal with ourselves. We are responsible for our actions and we should act accordingly. Which means that if you make a mistake you need to admit it and learn from it. If you do something you were explicitly warned against, and it turns out as bad as the warning, then that’s your own fault. I’m not responsible to convince you to make good decisions. I can present to you all the relevant information and tell you what I would do, but in the end it’s your own choices that are going to determine the path your life takes.

This is part of the reason I feel like I shouldn’t have children. Because if I tell a kid, “Don’t touch the pan I just took off the stove, it’s still hot and might burn you.” Then the kid goes to touch the pan, I don’t think I would stop them. They’d get a minor burn and I’d be like, “Yeah, see? Told you it was hot. Run your hand under cold water and I’ll get the salve.”

Obviously, I wouldn’t let a baby or very young child touch hot pans or play with knives or climb onto tables even if I did warn them. I’m not talking about actively putting children in life-threatening danger or allowing them to put themselves in a situation that could result in serious injury/death. That’s negligence and I am the responsible one in those situations. But if I tell a 12 year old not to play with scissors and they proceed to play with the scissors and cut themselves then that’s their own fault. I’ll bandage them up and comfort them but I’m not going to sugarcoat the consequences. If they complain about the cut it’s not “Oh, I know it hurts, I’m so sorry you got cut!” It’s gonna be “Well you shouldn’t have played with the scissors. Deal with it.”

We live in a society where nothing is the individual’s fault. Someone is intolerant? It’s society’s fault for institutionalized bigotry. Someone robs a store? Their home life is bad. Someone tries to blow dry their hair in the shower? The company should’ve put a warning label on the box. Drive your car without an oil change for 3 years and it breaks down? Manufacturer should’ve been more clear about that in the manual you didn’t read.

These things are an individual’s fault. They are the actions of one. Problem is that it seems like no one is teaching their children tough-love personal responsibility. When a child acts up it’s not their fault. It must be the tv shows they’re watching, the bad influence of a family member, maybe they need more attention, it might be the video games they play, but whatever it is, it can’t possibly be that they’re just being a little brat and need to learn to control their own emotions. It can’t possibly be that they’re a child and are still learning how to react (and not overreact) to different situations. It can’t be that they have been given everything they ever asked for. It can’t be that. It can’t be their own fault.

Well I’m here to say it is their fault. Yes, children are still learning. They get some leeway. Parents really need to work on teaching them to not blame everything else but themselves for their faults. But adults? I have no mercy. Ignorance only gets you so far. Take responsibility for yourself and your actions. It’s not society’s fault you make bad money decisions. It’s not the world’s fault you’re a bad driver. It’s not your parent’s fault that, as a full grown adult, you can’t handle someone having a different opinion. Next time something goes wrong in your life, take a moment to really evaluate what YOU could’ve done differently. If you can change the outcome for the future, do it. If not, then accept that the world is unfair and move on.

But, Lord, I’m So Comfortable!

But, Lord, I’m So Comfortable!

I’ve been thinking about my future and how I really have no idea what I’m doing with it. I don’t have any real, long-term plans for my life. Sure, I’m working towards getting my own car but that’s a year-ish goal, not the rest of my life goal. Where will I be in five years? Where will I be in ten? Who know? I don’t.

God does though. I know that I need to rely on Him through every part of my life. In my head, it’s easy to say. I can pray for my future and trust God with it. But in practice, in my actual life, it has to look different. I still have decisions to make that will affect my life later. How am I supposed to make them when the future isn’t known?

Well. Here’s what I’ve been thinking about: Preparation. God prepares each of us for whatever He has in store for our lives. He is putting us in situations so we can learn and grow. I love that. It’s nice to know that God isn’t going to just toss us into a difficult situation without having given us what we need to overcome it. It doesn’t always FEEL like God’s given you the tools necessary but He always has, in one way or another.

What scares me the most is how much trust I need to have to do this. Even though I haven’t made any plans for my life, there are definitely things that I DON’T want to do. So it scares me to think that God might want to prepare me for those things. I don’t want to do things that I don’t want to do. I’m comfortable where I am. I love my job, enjoy my free time, and I love the people I’m surrounded by. I have my cat and my family and my blog. I’m pretty content.

Paul talks about being content in every situation. I have God, so I should be. So I’m doing okay for sure… right? Well, right now, I’m so content with the things that I have that sometimes it feels like I’m pushing God away. God wants me to follow Him but when I’m in a place where I’m comfortable I don’t want to do that. What if He takes me away from my job? What if He puts me in uncertain situations? What if He wants me to do things outside my comfort zone? What if? What if? What if?

I have to trust God. It’s crazy to me that I’ve always felt like I trust God really well. I pray often and ask for strength or wisdom or whatever I need. But rarely have I thought about trusting God as asking Him to prepare me for His own plans. I think I just expected the preparation to happen without any input from me. Perhaps, I used to trust Him more than I do now. I certainly trust Him to get me to work in a falling apart vehicle and I trust Him to keep me alive as long as He wants me to be alive. But trust him to CHANGE me??? That’s a little harder. I like myself. I don’t want to change.

This line of thought doesn’t make sense. I JUST talked about how God doesn’t throw things at you without thinking. He prepares you for them. So these things that scare me, these situations that make me uncomfortable or anxious, could become nothing to me later on… IF I LET GOD PREPARE ME. Sure, being prepared doesn’t mean everything is easy. But being prepared certainly makes things easier.

Maybe right now there’s a thing I don’t want to do (oh boy, could I name several!) but God wants me to do that thing in the future. I have to let Him prepare me for it. I can’t run from God (He’s kind of omnipresent anyway). I need to run TO Him and, even though I like who I am, I like where I am, I like things about myself, I need to be always willing to change. As I change, I’m sure God will open up new opportunities for me. He’s always there for me and has my best interest in mind. Why is it so hard to trust?

That’s None of My Prayer Request

I don’t personally have a problem with oversharing during prayer request time, I feel like I have exactly the opposite problem: I don’t share enough.

Despite this blog, I really am a pretty private person. I don’t post a ton on social media and I don’t tend to let strangers in on much going on in my life. I think most people are relatively private. They’re not spewing highly personal information to random people on the street.

It’s more those in between people that get overshared to: the people you kind of know and have seen around but don’t really hang out with. The people you’re not SURE if they would like updates on your dog’s health or not so you go ahead and venture into overshare mode. I’m not sure you really ever find out if they’re okay with that or not unless you grow into better friends. That’s rare for me.

And I feel like there’s no better place to run into in between people than at church. I don’t mean that negatively at all. There are wonderful people in my church and I would call many of them friends. But there’s also people who I just don’t know very well. Now, for me, friendship is a high stake. I can loosely call people friends but in my head I know who is really on the inside track and the majority of my friends are not there. Nothing against them, they’re great people and I would willingly share most things with them, but they’re not the inner circle of friendship.

Which circles me back to over and undersharing on prayer requests. I am an under-sharer. When asked I often say I have none. Sometimes I don’t feel like my problems are “big enough” to share with a group of in-between-friends (it’s hard to follow up “Please pray about my aunt who had a stroke” with “I’m feeling stressed about my room being messy all the time”). Sometimes I know my problems are small and won’t last too long so God and I will deal with them, why take up other people’s time with it? Then there’s sometimes I feel like my problems are nobody’s business anyway. They’re personal problems, why bother everyone else with them? ESPECIALLY when they might be VERY personal problems that I might share one on one with my in-between-friends but not just as a group announcement.

But I don’t just undershare for my own personal self, I also undershare for my friends. I pray for my friends on the regular. When one of them shares something personal with me that they’re struggling with, I pray about it. But I rarely share any friend prayer requests with a group. Even if the person I’d be asking for prayer for will rarely or never see this group of people, even if it’s not even that personal, even if it’s a big life event that’s causing a lot of problems and could really use more prayer, I still rarely share. This is what I feel bad about at times. Because I go back and forth in my head,

“They really need prayer so just ask”

“It’s none of anyone’s business”

“No one here is going to judge”

“It’s not about judging! It’s not my prayer request to share!”

And that pretty much ends the internal conversation. It’s not my prayer request to share. It’s none of my business prayer request. I will still pray but a lot of the time I feel like I can’t, in good conscience, share with the group. Even my own stuff can feel too close to the vest for sharing. I know my church family isn’t going to judge me or my friends. I know my church family isn’t going to be rude or harsh or ask any probing questions. In fact, my church family is a valuable resource that can help not only with prayer but practical advice and opportunities.

I still struggle.

I’m unsure where to go with these feelings either. Am I even in the wrong? It’s not as though I am NOT praying/bringing my struggles to God. But I’m not bringing myself open to God’s church. My church. I actively wall myself in and refuse to share. I don’t think I’ve ever asked for prayer about my current car situation. It’s certainly becoming more of a mess and I still don’t have the funds to get one.

Being private is nice. It’s comfortable. I control the flow of information and I don’t have to worry about others accidentally or even in another’s confidence, sharing my personal struggles (I say as I openly share my personal struggles with the entire internet community). Is this guilt I’m feeling or conviction?