An Open Letter

A digital journal

Hi me. In my mind you're younger me, a past version of myself, or a different version. Forgive me I don't know which one, so I'll write as much as I can.

To childhood me: I guess I want to say sorry. I think I wanted to say that because I am wallowing in self pity right now. But I am sorry about your circumstances. In a burning house, the world looks like it's on fire – but it's not. It's just the house you're in. One day you'll get out of there, but a little part of that house stays lodged in you and sometimes that fire sets your surroundings ablaze again. Just remember it'll stop. Eventually at least.

To future me: Does that piece of home ever burn up fully? I forget it's there until I walk past some kindling and everything lights up again. It's on fire right now, and I don't believe things will ever change. At least fundamentally. Does it change?

Even if you could respond, I feel like you'd tell me it would be ok no matter what. The same way I'd tell past me. Where does that hope come from? Is there some grander belief that everything will be ok, and that I am not some exception to that rule?

To the version of me who never queued up with L. How did life go? You don't know about this, but from a game with L I friended someone who was playing with T. From them I joined a custom with S and Y. I then met A, M, and plenty other people. Over 200 now in the server. I met L while playing with some others on OW. I met her a few days ago. I even flew to Canada and finally met most of them in person! I stayed with S. That week was one of the happiest of my life. Those people are my family. We may not be nearly as close as other people are with their friends, but they're a core part of my life and who I am. They have been with me from that burning house and are still with me now. All because I played games with a stranger. Who would have thought this all would have came out of that. I hope you had your own chain of random events that made life more full.

To the version of me without Hash: Hash is the name of my pug. He's 4 years old now, I got him at 8 weeks and he's been with me since. I named him Hash after hashmaps. I always say Hash like hashbrown to people. He's incredibly smart, almost too smart. He's a master manipulator. I love him. When you got him, COVID started and he stayed with you 24/7 and ended up with very bad separation anxiety. It was a horrible nightmare for years, but eventually it worked out. I'm able to leave him alone now and everything is pretty much fine. He sleeps with you every night, cuddled up as the little spoon. If you lift up the blanket, he will come up and lay down against your body and he loves to be hugged. I'm never alone because of him.

To past me: I used to say my only goal in life was to be happily married. I later learned I need to be happy without a relationship to be healthy in one. I'm struggling to want a relationship now. You'd never have thought of that huh? I even have people wanting to pursue a relationship with me that I've had to reject. How surreal is that? I guess a big part is I became more confident in myself. I also started workout out religiously, and I've become way more attractive to myself. But the most important part is it helped my mental health so much. I'm not on SSRIs at all! No anxiety medication either. Turns out we also have ADHD. I started medication a few months ago, and I've been learning how to be able to focus and have motivation. Do you know how much fun reading is? I read every day now. I even have a mini bookshelf with books I've read. How crazy is that? You're also way stronger than you think. Don't sell yourself short, no one will believe what you were capable of. I don't want to spoil it, as I want you to aim higher. Turns out you also can learn to cry – it's actually really nice. I know crying used to be reserved for attempts, but turns out all the documented science is right: crying helps. Do whatever you need to in order to cry, it's ok lil man.

One thing you and I will both learn is that people come and go. It's come out of nowhere for both parts of that. Do your best to not get jaded of it, that's the cost of life.

I know that most likely you're a fucking loser like I am so let me tie back into what you used to tell yourself. Life is like Kassadin mid. Lane phase was hell, but if you get out of it you're a demon. Just play for late, but also don't give up every wave. Funnily enough when I finally played Kassadin I figured that out too. Just because you're setting yourself up for the future doesn't mean you can't do well now. Don't go fleet + ROA every game. Go electrocute lichbane, maybe your team ffs at 15 and you wasted your chances. You could die in a car crash at any time. Plan for the future, but enjoy the present. What a crazy thing to semi-publicly write. But also, how could I hold shame against what I think? I think it's a strangely slippery slope to not be cringe or weird sometimes. I'd rather look back and feel shame at what I put on display rather than look back and see a life that isn't me. We both grew up as a shell, meant to please our parents. Turns out we're more than just that – we are individual living people with a unique episode. You'll never get to do this again, nor will anyone else. Even if someone had an identical life to mine, they aren't exactly where I am right now looking at this purple flower. Even if it's trivially different, that gives you the freedom to do whatever you want with this one chance.

To present me: think about what you just said. I will never get this minute back. What is a better way to spend it than looking at the sunset. I can't think of a single other thing.

Thank you for having this conversation with me. Even if there was no one to read this, it helps me. So thank you.

I maybe could have done 5. But I stopped at 4. I almost hate myself for that. It's just a personification of how lazy I am. I didn't give it my all. I didn't come close to that. How could I be happy with myself like this? It feels like I'm telling myself “I'm fine like this. I'm ok not progressing.” And that terrifies me.

I used to remind myself that “I am a list of the concessions I make.” And that list has just steadily grown. I'll cut corners everywhere. What a letdown.

Mac said in that one line “I'm more than what I think of myself, I really have to be.” I wonder what that problem would be like, I'm on the other shore of the same ocean I fear. I could be so much more. I know I'm better than what I am right now. But I see the obvious contradiction there, as I am myself. But I don't have to be. I could be someone who was disciplined, and not this thing I am now. I guess we both are in the same water. I need to be more than what I think of myself, otherwise there's no hope. I pray people can change – no I BELIEVE we can change; because otherwise I am trapped as this person. I don't want to be this person. But I also don't want to be anyone else. I guess I just don't want to be sometimes, until I am that person. I'm afraid that ego drives me, after all I just realized that I only want to be the good version of me.

Brand new city by Mitski gets it.

One of my favorite quotes is The pain of inaction is worse than the pain of the incorrect action. As much as I like that I can't help but recognize my shortcomings there. Idea after idea, project after project. All of them lay dormant in some notes app somewhere or else. Some died in my calendar, as an event used as a reminder long forgotten. Some lay in a Todo app I don't use anymore. Some hung on in a daily reminder until today I caved and deleted them, so they rest there never to be realized. As I prepare to move for the summer, I'm faced with all of the things I didn't do. I can't even blame it on perfectionism, as I didn't even start. I planned, but only in my mind. I never took action to do it. Some people struggle to ever get inspiration, and yet here I stand with the opposite. Overwhelmed at the start line. How am I not supposed to feel shame at that.

I consistently fall short of what I could be. I guess I can't think of any reason why I come up short. The second the pressure came off me, I sunk back down. Last quarter I had an obscene work load. And I still have powerlifting everything I had. Now I have almost nothing, and I half ass everything I do. How am I not meant to feel shame at this.

And with that I finish my first year of masters. I'm dead exhausted, I didn't even work out today. I'm very nervous about moving and idk if I'll be able to pack everything away. Oh well, only time will tell.

I guess the end of the year has hit me. I'm absolutely drained, and I have one last final tomorrow night. Home stretch, almost done.

I confronted that gross feeling of not being in love. This time I asked my therapist how I can stop feeling like the struggles I go through are unique, and how to realize and have that reassurance that everything will be fine, and I am just young and dumb. This question was used to close out several others before, and even before I could finish it I realized the same answer shows up again. Depression is playing a trick on my mind, and I cannot fall for it. Personification aside, if my brain gets a sharp drop in dopamine, then of course I will attribute anything I can to the cause of this.

Consider this: imagine I have a reinforcement learning agent in some super complicated environment. If I suddenly drop its reward for nothing, it will attribute that pain to whatever actions it’s doing. It could be doing the task correctly, but because of this drop, it will blame that action for this consequence. But in reality, it did nothing wrong (or right). I just dropped its reward. I need to remember that I am the same – when the dopamine levels just plunge in my brain I shouldn’t attribute it to the first thing I see. As rational as this is, it’s hard to remember this in the moment – because I am just the agent. I don’t see what’s going on outside or anything like that. I just have to have the foresight to understand this is just how the game goes.

I have a final tomorrow at noon so I prepared to sleep early for it. I guess I’ll call it here, goodnight me.

24,923 mph. That's how fast something needs to go to break free from earths gravitational pull. There's different cosmic velocities also – 3,000 mph for the moon, 7,900 mph for mars, and something more than 40 mph for a 2014 Prius C.

40 isn't much, but when whipping around the twisting back roads behind the university, it borders that boundary. There's some belief I have that if I can just go fast enough, I can outrun any fears or feelings that lay behind me. 40 mph wasn't enough to break it this time.

Sometimes I'll turn the lights off on the car so I drive almost blind. Something about going fast on a straight stretch with no guide on what's ahead feels like it should be intoxicating. But it isn't. I turn the lights back on after a few seconds. This time I started to brake to take my exit, and I saw the red glow in my rearview mirror. For a split second, I thought I was being flagged down by cops – but after the light doesn't change to blue that whole fear/fantasy goes back into some corner of my mind, until it's next performance. That brief scare is enough to remind me that I don't want the rest of that fantasy, and I slow back down to the legal limit.

30 over wasn't enough to escape it's pull this time, but I'm sure I just need to go a little bit faster. Then I'll be free.

I ended up sending a message to L on faith that she would understand and not double down on it – and she completely did. She apologized profusely and said she was just trying to banter and didn’t mean it. I’m very happy I did reach out to her, because in my mind I was afraid of doing that, on fear of a negative response. The reality was the opposite of that – she didn’t mean it in a negative way and all of the things I was paranoid about weren’t true.

I’m glad I checked my unconscious brain, but at the same time pre workout like that is far and few between lol.

L & L lol – I couldn’t let that one go unnoticed.

I met L today in person for the first time, we’ve known each other for 2-3 years now and we play games almost daily. It was a nice day, we hung out for like 6 hours or so. I guess you kinda do know someone after spending hundreds of hours with them, other than some strange quirks here and there. The second L comes in because I noticed they set their status as “that fucker is kinda short 💀”. For the record, I am 5’9.5” last I went to the doctor, so I’m 5’10” with shoes. This person’s 5’6” or so, so it’s not like they were my height. I am most likely not going to see L in person for a while anyway, so it has no consequence at all, but this comment did for some reason affect me way more than I thought it would.

My gut reaction is to defend myself – my posture is naturally pretty bad, but I also noticed I was never standing fully upright and was being incredibly passive with my body language, which I attribute to not wanting her to feel uncomfortable or scared at all. I was always leaning against something, or sitting down and never stood straight while facing directly at her. After all, she is a few years younger than me and is way more at risk meeting up with an internet friend if I was a murderer compared to the other way around.

I guess I kind of take offense to things like these because they feel emasculating. I’m not rigidly masculine in a traditional way, so it’s not emasculating in the same lens of toxic masculinity – but I guess I just feel weak and vulnerable. I grew up incredibly short, weak, and fragile. I ended up eventually growing around 10th grade, got physically stronger, and mentally tougher over time. Those are all things that were never guaranteed to me, and I had to work hard for some of them. I have a fear of going back to that state I used to be in. Or maybe the fear is being perceived in that state I was in. I didn’t think that anyone could be attracted to me, and I guess by some continuation of that love me like that. As time went on, I ended up becoming someone who was more self-sufficient, and stable. Now I have people consistently finding me attractive or wanting to pursue things, but I guess my mind has not caught up with the rest of me. I still see myself as the person I was for 90% of my life – weak, frail, and unloved.

I set my status to “Somehow every body of water leads me back to this ocean”. I guess I wanted to go back to my roots and sadpost, but I can’t really do that when I have a ton of students constantly reaching out to me over Discord given this strike. I set the status while in the shower in my childhood home – a place tied to a lot of horrible emotions for me. That image is synonymous with all of the pains I had growing up, and I felt like it was almost inevitable to end back up there. No matter how far I climb, or how deep inland I run, the rains drag me back into the ocean where I drown.

Professor on strike, I have been trying to help students as much as I can for their sake. I had my first meal at 8pm while starting to drive down to SD, which took another 4 hours. Too tired.