But if you do, then please keep this to yourself.
I’m serious though.
I’ve realized, after 1 year of publishing monthly blog entries, just how frighteningly vulnerable of an endeavor it is.
Every single time I hit the ‘publish’ button, I need to shut off from the world for a good couple of hours. Usually it looks like this: I put on my running shoes, set all gadgets aside, and go for an indefinitely long-ass run. No destination, no distractions, no music or podcasts or fitness trackers. Just me and the open road.
I'm probably halfway through MacRitchie by the time you are reading this.
I underestimated the weight that this blog would have on me; the weight I would have to carry in trying to ‘put myself out there’ - exposing my inner thoughts and struggles to the world.
I’ve shared about being burnt out, feeling totally and utterly lost, and in so doing, I sort of keep myself, lock myself, my emotional state and mind-space, in those negative states for longer than normal.
Perhaps its a way for me to ‘stay consistent’ to the content I put out? To be true to this ‘brand’?
What would happen is, I’d publish the blog, and you wonderful human beings would have a read, and reach out to say how it has resonated with you, or check in on me and lend a listening ear.
Its a beautiful thing, don’t get me wrong.
It truly means a lot to know that I am not alone in experiencing these very fundamental human woes, and to receive your compassion, your support.
I know that it has a positive impact on you, my dear readers. I am grateful for the outpourings of messages, paragraphs (even essays!), sharing with me how you have resonated with the things I put out. It makes a significant difference for me and my mental health. Truly.
But usually some distance has been created since the actual event and when I am able to coherently weave together a blog entry about it, so when you guys act differently around me, thinking that my mental health is in that same fragile state, I sort of adjust to suit that(?) Not sure if this makes sense.
Its like if you keep telling a child that they aren’t valued unless they score well in their exams, and they internalize that line of thought.
Something like that.
And so I end up staying in that negative, victim mindset space for far longer than normal.
Don't worry, I'm not saying its your fault for trying to be compassionate to me. It's simply my observation looking back on this year of writing, and accepting this as a consequence of putting such personal, vulnerable content out there.
Heart of Darkness
I’ve thought about stopping the blog. Keeping the writing private.
Multiple times this year in fact.
And its not for lack of content. I have like 40+ drafts and content ideas waiting to move to the next stage of my Notion Kanban board (yes I’m a sucker for that productivity shit).
A whole pipeline of drafts and ideas waiting for their turn to be published.
So why stop?
It’s because I don’t think the content model is sustainable in its current form - this super personal, raw, sad vibes type of content.
Its not healthy for my own mental health.
I initially thought the blog would be a medium for release, for letting go of these ‘dark thoughts’, but it has actually been doing the opposite.
If anything, the journal entries I write just for myself, my totally private ones, now those help with letting go.
But not this.
And I realize that in putting out content in the way I’ve done for this year, I’ve come to frame myself as either a victim, or worse, a villain.
Being a victim - the bad things that happen to me, they happened to me. Its external-driven. External locus of control. And I am powerless to do anything about it. I am just waiting for someone to save me, someone to validate my self-worth.
Being a villain - the bad things in my life are caused by me. I go about my life, seeking to destroy, to manipulate, to sow discord. To get revenge, to gain power, fame. Greed, lust, sloth, all that seven deadly sins stuff. The main point being, while for most people, we see their bad actions as ‘coming from a good place’, seeing myself as a villain means the bad actions are ‘coming from a bad place’. A heart of darkness.
"The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being." ― Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Yes, Alexander, you are right.
And I have crossed that line, over to the dark side.
Villains and Demons
In Iron Man 3, the character I felt I most resonated with was the villain, The Mandarin, Aldrich Killian.
He was this nerdy, handicapped guy. Bullied, ignored, neglected, looked down upon.
He was driven by revenge, and built his way back up.
Became successful, good-looking, powerful.
A gentleman. A titan of industry. A philanthropist.
But he used his gifts to nefarious ends. His actions came from a nefarious origin.
And I saw myself ending up like that.
“We create our own demons.” - Tony Stark, Iron Man 3
That’s the quote by Tony Stark that stuck with me after watching and re-watching the film. He was referring to his role in indirectly ‘creating’ the Mandarin character; how his ego and neglect and bullying of this guy pushed him off the edge to become a villain.
But I interpreted it differently - we create the demons inside of us. When we believe nasty thoughts, behave in non-virtuous ways, ultimately we control the choice of thoughts, of actions, that resulted in those things. They are the demons of our making.
And I had been creating loads of demons.
It's like that Coldplay song that goes: ~"When I counted up my demons, saw there was one for every day..."~
A girl I was dating this year pointed this out: “Eugene, you don’t love yourself much, do you?”
And I told her straight: “No, I don’t.”
Either I don’t think I’m enough, or I think that I’m only enough for bad stuff.
Before Big Daddy Thanos or Killmonger popularized the whole ‘relatable villain back story and motivations’ trope, I was already relating to them. Resonating with them.
While my friends and family would share about which superhero they liked the most, or looked up to, I would feel for the villain instead. But of course, I’d still come up with a logical answer for a superhero-idol when asked.
When I look back to those times when I hurt others, I detest myself. Its not just ‘I don’t love myself’. Its detest. Strong hatred.
“What is there to love?”
It is a very potent question to ask oneself, and it will take you to places you may not be ready to go to.
And I notice myself going to these dark places, very often this year in particular. Before 2022, I think the last time I was in this mind-space was 2017 when I was super burnt out hustling for Rats to Riches, and lost $20k trading Forex, living on Digestives for 6 weeks.
A New Hope
So this is the end.
The end of the path I started us on.
The end of ‘Geniesama’ as a personal, super raw, vulnerable and negative blog.
But it is also the start.
The start of something new.
Two key changes/insights:
I realized that the struggles I faced this year might be temporary, but life is just a series of struggles all the way. New struggles, new challenges will come along. New reasons to see myself as a victim and blame other people, blame the market, etc. New reasons to see myself as a villain, too. One thing is for certain - I am imperfect. I will let some people down, I will fall short of expectations, make mistakes, hurt people, whether I intend to or not. But the important thing moving forward is that ultimately it is a choice. A story I tell myself. "Life is just a story you tell yourself" - Naval Ravikant. I can choose to rewrite it differently. I can choose to love, to persevere, even through the pain. Precisely because it is painful. That is the beauty of life, isn’t it? The depth of the human spirit? The whole ‘Man Search for Meaning’ idea of ‘suffering ceases to become suffering the moment it finds a meaning’.
I feel like I am in a better place mentally, emotionally, spiritually now. No, I am in a better place, a better state now. It has been a long journey of sitting with the pain, learning to let go, learning to change my perspectives on life, learning to love, especially loving myself. I’ve had help along the way, which I am very thankful for, but in the end, the only person who can save me is me. And that is perfectly fine. It just means that the switch is being flipped, the narrative is being retold in a new light, and the kind of content that emerges will look quite different.
So I will press on. 2023 will mark a new chapter in my personal blog journey. It is a chapter that I am genuinely excited to walk on, and super hyped share with all of you.
(if you are a rebel and actually read this blog entry, might as well do me a solid and subscribe! or share this with someone you think might resonate with it)