Do The Thing

Posted on September 30th, 2021

Every morning Monday through Friday, I wake up and work out. Every Saturday, I either do cardio or run for at least three miles. It isn’t always because I want to. Often, it’s just because I know how much worse I feel when I don’t. I think this is the one thing that I never, ever skip regardless of my emotional state because it ties into so much stuff: health, self-image, ingrained habit, etc. I feel like I can’t afford not to or too much will fall apart.

How healthy that perspective is might be debatable, but it’s definitely useful since it keeps me from skipping my workouts. Moreover, once I’ve done it, my mood improves at least for a while regardless of where I started. It’s nice to know that whatever else happens, I’ve accomplished this one thing and can see the results over time—and more often than not, I even end up enjoying the process itself. But here’s the interesting thing: it doesn’t just work for workouts.

I have longstanding issues with depression and anxiety. I’ve even been diagnosed with dysthymia, which basically means that mild depression is my normal mood. Over the last several years, it got progressively harder for me to focus on much of anything that once had meaning for me. So, for the most part, I stopped doing most of the things I once loved doing. Even if I found the will, I would do a thing for a while, enjoy it, feel lost once it was over and eventually give in to the voices that told me I would never finish, that I would never be good enough, that it was pointless to try. But when I did do something, even if I had to force it and even if the feeling was fleeting, I felt better for having done it. I never felt better for not having done it; I only felt worse.

You’d think I’d get it right away, but I guess I wasn’t in the right headspace for an epiphany. Then, one day, I got the idea to revitalize my internet presence and set up some sites for stuff, which I knew would have to be an ongoing project if I wanted it to amount to anything. I was feeling unusually inspired and wanted to see what would happen. Which ultimately let to this Tuesday.

On Tuesday, I made a drawing. I hadn’t wanted to draw, exactly, but I told myself I had to get it done that day—and did. I finished it despite the voices in my head telling me I sucked and that I should give up. The drawing turned out somewhat better than I thought it would and I was proud of myself for having made it, let alone pushing myself to post it where other people could see it.

That’s when I realized something important: if I want to do the thing, I should just do the thing, same as with my morning workouts. I might not be thrilled about it at first and getting it done might be a struggle, but once I finally do the thing, I always feel better. In fact, writing this blog entry feels good because I’ve accomplished something. No, it’s not the end of the process any more than this morning’s exercise was my last routine, but it’s still one little thing I can look at and say, “I did this much today.”

I know all my problems aren’t solved. I know I’ll still have issues with this, even serious ones at times, because as much as I’m loath to admit it, I am only human. But now, when I’m tempted to give up on something I know I want to do, I have good reason to reconsider.

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