#5: getting my life together
and why i kind of enjoy melancholy?
Hi there. Welcome to another installment of the hey howie newsletter! This week you’ll read all about my mental checklists, my self-soothing, what I’ve been reading and more. I hope you enjoy and, as always, that you can (maybe) relate to my fits of neurosis. Here we go. (P.S. Don’t forget to subscribe!)
getting my life together.
Is anyone else obsessed with getting their life together? I am, hah. If you’re not sure what I mean by “getting your life together,” allow me to explain.
Getting your life together looks a little bit like this: Maybe you were having a bit of a downspell, a bout of depression, a sad period. You’ve let dust bunnies accumulate in your bedroom. Your shelves maintain a thin layer of dust. Crusty dishes topple over the sink. Your plants have a brown dryness about them. A suitcase sits on your floor, still packed, from a now-weeks-ago excursion. A lil’ red notification on your phone shows you have hundreds of unread messages.
Everything is messy. But then, inspiration strikes. Your depressed mood lifts and, for whatever reason, enough is enough. You’re sick of your own company and filth, and it’s time to get your shit together.
I’ve gotten myself in and out of ~funks~, periods of weirdness, all throughout quarantine. Whether it was the holiday season, the aftermath of the fucking coup, or worrying about my family’s (and everyone’s) well-being, it seems like there’s always something, or some event that could make me spiral. Regardless of what it is, it always requires that I take a few days to crawl under the bedsheets, cook comfort foods, read romance books, binge-watch TV, etc.
And honestly, I’ve been allowing myself the time, space, and patience to go through these periods right now. It’s okay to relax. It’s okay when the world feels like too much. Times are quite suck-ish (and they have been for a while), and my new response is to self-soothe rather than solve.
All that said, there’s a reason I sometimes relish in my own melancholy. Maybe it’s a bit sadistic, but it makes me feel strong, makes me feel good to lift myself up again. I like getting my life together after a “down” period.
Recently, I had a day where things just clicked, and I had the energy, time, and headspace to take action on my ever-growing list of to-dos. I told my therapist about my spike in mood and my excitement to take charge of my life that day, to get myself organized. She encouraged me to lean into my feelings, that sometimes it feels good to do something small and nagging for yourself. To get into a rhythm, a routine.
And so that’s exactly what I did. I grabbed the package of post-it notes on my counter and jotted down all the mini-tasks that would take me 15-20 mins yet, during my weird and anxietal moments, seemed insurmountable. One-by-one, I went about checking them off my list. In case you were wondering, here are said tasks:
I finished reading the book I’d been putting off completing. I updated my Goodreads. I cleaned my room. I trudged to Trader Joe’s and back for groceries. I stopped in my bodega and bought deodorant. (I’ll admit I went rogue and deodorant-less for two days before I took action on this, lol.) I bought body wash. I opened my mail. I replied to (some) texts. I went for a jog and did some stretches. I hung a piece of art that’d been leaning against my wall for two months. I ordered more iron supplements. (I’m anemic.) I stopped at two stores to find fertilizer for my (dead) plants, and then gave up and ordered online when I couldn’t find any. (I’m sorry.) I showered, put on my new robe, and lit a candle. I read more. I wrote. And I felt fucking amazing every time I scratched something off of my little post-it note. I ended the day feeling in-control of my life and, most importantly, sort of happy, for once?
I’ll note that I like toying with things that keep me accountable, like my Duolingo streak, or my Peloton badges, or reaching a Goodreads yearly book number. My notebook is always by my side in case I can spontaneously check something off or add a bullet to my to-dos. Basically, the more pats on the back I can give myself, the better. And while I’ve been this way for as long as I remember — I’m enneagram number three, “The Achiever” — my level of meticulousness has proven significantly more important to me during the pandemic.
I don’t know why I need some physical proof of validation before I allow myself to feel in-control and like I’ve finally “gotten my life together.” That said, I like to think I’m not alone in this. The way that “goals” and “streaks” on the aforementioned apps are all the more popular nowadays only reaffirms my enumerating every task and to-do. People documenting as they tidy their “depression rooms” on TikTok, or the fact that cleaning ASMR keeps popping up on my For You page shows me that I’m not the only one who (unfortunately?) operates like this.
In lieu of things-to-look-forward-to (see: vacations, parties, dinner with friends, soccer games) I guess myself and many others are grasping onto the little things, the mini-goals that shake us out of our melancholy. (Even if it's something as small as wiping off the counter, lol.) For me, they’re a helpful nudge that says: Hey, you. Even though you’re down, the Earth is still spinning. You’re alive. It’s okay to act like it.
Some other things I’d love to note:
A link to my favorite notebook. (Which is also Neil Gaiman’s fav.) (I know this from a Tim Ferris podcast my dad sent me.) (I haven’t read much Neil Gaiman.)
I get deep email anxiety and I will spend so much time making sure my emails are ~perfect~.
I’m on the second Bridgerton book. It’s still fire.
Fine I’ll admit it. Cobra Kai is a great show.
I miss my family :/