It humbles me to think that I actually started on an important path of self improvement about 16 years ago. It all starts with breakfast.
I was in therapy at the time, as I had been before, and I was also on the typical teenage diet of skipping breakfast and having a chocolate bar for lunch if I had a dollar. Out of what seemed like far left field my therapist asked me if I was anorexic.
To keep the exposition short; I started eating breakfast everyday mostly to avoid the bizarre line of questioning she was going down under her hypothesis.
And of course felt better, slightly. It didn’t fix anything per se, it just made me feel a tiny bit less awful. Instead of being a -10 I became a -8 on the happiness scale. Eventually I noticed that when I didn’t eat breakfast I was moody again but I didn’t let it overcome me because I knew exactly where it was coming from and I knew to try eating something before sinking into catastrophic feelings.
Flash forward a lot of years to when I was working at a breakfast place, starting work at 7am. In the winter getting to work was fucking bleak. I decided to see if taking vitamin D helped and sure enough it did although again I didn’t feel an improvement in my mood, just less prone to feeling low. The highs weren’t higher but the lows weren’t as low. I kept taking vitamin D through the summer though because I could really feel a buffer between me and despair. Instead of just existing at a -8 I could really tell the difference between when life was going wrong and when it wasn’t.
Again cutting exposition short; I now take handfuls of vitamins, a lot of mood boosters and also for my skin (because being thirty and having acne is in and of itself a major fucking downer) and for my bones and joints because I’m further the project of feeling good by starting to work out since about April.
What’s strange is that I can look back and see how my baseline has risen, how I’m almost never miserable and how I’m much better as a person and yet because I’ve never felt above baseline it’s easy to feel that nothing has changed, that I haven’t gained anything, I’m just running a lot harder to stand still.
What is the grand difference between being a -10 and a -2 if being -2 takes up 90% of my focus?
I didn’t want this post to be a bummer, which I feel like it veers towards, it was supposed to show that the incremental steps can get overlooked even though they do add up to something. I know that if I right now could meet my 16 year old self the difference would be monumental and I think my 16 year old self would be pleased. My lesson if I could send one back through time is that the emotional and philosophical changes come in the wake of the physical changes. And maybe it’s just the power of making a choice and sticking with it or getting swept up in effort as opposed to being adrift in cynicism but either way, and even if it is too little too late, I am currently the best version of me so far.