Posted in about archie, advice, blogging, failure, fear, fiction, habits, inspiration, life updates, living life, mental health, self help, self-care, writing

help fish from drowning (life update #4)

Dear whoever you are…

Yes, I’m still here, still writing on this blog, though not as often as I had planned.
It’s been over a year since my last life update, so here goes…

Let me recap some of the events that have happened:
I’m still living in the Arctic (and if you’re a writer you should too!); I continued working as a full-time sub teacher at a primary school (and really loved it), but in the last few months have switched to a duller paper-centric office job; my best friend died and it was damn brutal for a long while, and I’m only now adjusted to all the leftover emotional scar tissue (some of my coping strategies are listed here); I essentially relapsed and had a tough go of things before again getting sober for what has been about 6 months (read this for more about my life with addiction), and I’m still a writer…

  • What I’ve been Reading: I’m happy to say that I am still (*slowly*) reading through my multiple bookshelves of books, mixing it up with the genres and authors. On audio, I’m listening to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre which is so far so good, albeit more intense than I was expecting. On paper, I’ve been reading through multiple short story collections, including Kurt Vonnegut’s Welcome to the Monkey House, J.D. Salinger’s Nine Stories and also Ray Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man – all white men from roughly the same time period yes, but different styles that are very instructive for my learning eyes.
  • What I’ve been Writing: I’m also really pleased to say how much progress I have been making of late in working on all my stories, thanks to my new desk-job, which offers me a lot of opportunities to edit, daydream and research. My priority story of late has been one called Graves (which was my very first story!). This story is one of the Big 3, along with two others (I mentioned in a previous post working on one series called Animals and another post working on another series called Warriors), which means I hope to publish each of them traditionally, as novels, with a major book publisher, someday…
  • What I’ve been … Watching: I have been enjoying a lot of Queer Eye on Netflix, which is really satisfying not only because of the emphasis on self-improvement both inside and out, but also it’s just nice to see how much a difference it can make in anyone’s life to have cheerleaders really route for you and encourage the fuck out of you because that is the basic ingredient toward any sincere personal growth.

Okay, so on to what I want to say here today.

Working on my own mental health, I’ve learnt just how much we have influence over our well-being, and that because of learned behaviour and habits of thought, some of us are better equipped to deal with problems on the day-to-day. And some of us make shit worse for ourselves by dreaming up catastrophic what-if scenarios, or mind-reading what someone thinks of us, or just assuming problems are all-or-nothing black-or-white situations. If my word is not enough to convince you, take a moment now to call upon one of your fears in life (whether it was something from your past or present or future), and the longer you wallow on it, the more your physical body will react to this imaginary stress – your gut clenches up, heartbeat increases, skin sweating, mouth dries, etc. etc.

However much our mind and body are made sick by our own anxious worries is tough to really say, but I think it’s clear enough that we are more than capable of making stuff worse by overthinking. You know that conversation with a family member, or email to a coworker, or house chore you’ve been dreading to do? Well, why not think about it a dozen times before ever attempting it, and each time try to imagine the worst-case scenario of what might happen – fun right?
Helpful too, right?
No of course not.

But neither do you need to get down on yourself for behaving like this, as everyone struggles against themselves. Seriously. About every story, book, TV show, movie, is about the main character having a problem and then making it worse by trying to fix it. That’s what we humans are all about – fucking shit up and spending all our life trying to do better tomorrow.

My point: unless we’re careful, we can spend much of our waking life entertaining entirely fabricated relationships and events between ourselves, family and strangers.
It’s like the times you dream someone does you dirty and then wake-up and still feel seriously peeved off at that person for acting like an ass in your imagination…
Instead of allowing things to play out as they might, we chase after the comfort of (pretend) knowledge by trying to anticipate (imagine) what will happen (even if that problem never comes to pass).

That’s saving fish from drowning… Making problems from things that are not problems!

If you’re unsure how much this might really be filling up your head, and distracting you from just being available to listen and engage with others, then I am going to hand out an assignment for y’all today…

Your homework: I want you to write something every day this week (7 days) – either with a pen and paper, or a pencil off the floor on a sticky note, or type it out on your phone in a text – and I want you to write about as many problems you have right now… Just write it out and don’t correct your spelling or censor what you think you need to say.

Stuff like:

  • My hair looks rough today…
  • So-and-so was rude to me…
  • I am sick of my friends…
  • Are my friends getting sick of me?
  • I hate all my clothes…
  • Why did so-and-so in grade 3 laugh at me?…
  • Why doesn’t my neighbour clean up all his dog shit?
  • Is my boss going to fire me?
  • I hate my job… 

The pettier, the better.
I think it goes without saying, keep this list private for the week, and burn it by Day 8.
But before you do, take the time to look over your words and see how many of those problems came to fruition, and how many were just phantoms playing tricks on you.

You might be seriously surprised how much creativity you use making up problems and to also realize how you are unknowingly using that creative skill against yourself.

As always, thank you for reading!
See you out between the lines…



hi my name is archie! i like to write stories, take long naps and play with animals. nice to meet you :)

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