Proof of how I'm actually fighting these negative instincts can be seen in my day to day life. I'm drawn to people that are positive and excited about life and events. This often results in them trying to change my thinking. It might not be intentionally but no matter how negative you are as a person, I feel like a positive person, if they are persistent enough, will always win you over. They'll consistently challenge your negative outlooks, by getting you to try new things, and they'll be excited and happy for you with every success. That's who I want to be. I've missed out on too many good nights with friends because I've thought "that's going to be a trainwreck". Or skipping events because there's no Dota only to hear great stories people tell when they get back, leaving me feeling more than a little bit jealous.
Now, with therapy, I've started on the road to becoming the person I feel is the real me. A person that's excited about life and events. In the last year, I've gone to two CS LAN's. I've gone to the LoL LEC finals. I'll probably go to a Rainbow 6 event soon too. And that small change in mindset, in one part of my life, has rubbed off on the rest of my life. I feel more positive and I act accordingly. We had SilverMoonya, whose art you really should know if you frequent the Dota subreddit, come by the Dutch Liquid office a while back. She's one of those people who I'm drawn to. An optimist with a hunger to explore. And explore we did. On the days I joined her on her travels (I had to get some work in) we walked at least 15k steps a day and we saw a lot of what The Netherlands has to offer. We spent an extremely hot day in Rotterdam, just walking around, ending the day watching windmills. We spent a less sunny day in Amsterdam hitting Madame Tussauds and The Amsterdam Dungeon. Things I would've skipped just 6 months ago because I'd write them off as "too cheesy". But she was so excited about being here that I became excited about all these things and I thoroughly enjoyed all of those "cheesy" things. Even though she has left, that positive feeling remains. I'm more active now and I make a point of doing positive things. They're small steps but looking back at them I realize that I'm taking those steps in the right direction. I've learned is how these small steps can have a huge impact on your life.
Another small step I've taken is in the direction of not being so hard on myself. In the past, I've been my own worst critic and this harshness carries beyond the moment of making a mistake. You know those memes where a person is in bed, trying to sleep, and their brain goes "hey did you turn your stove off?" (or something else) and they're instantly awake? That's me but with embarrassing and terrible memories. Things I've done in the past that I'm ashamed of (example: I once misread my friendship with a girl, tried to kiss her, turns out she's gay). I think most people have experiences like mine and, from time to time, have "flashbacks" like me. However, I experience this almost every night when I go to bed. Some of them are so bad that I'll actually say "OH GOD!" out loud and have to find something to distract me. Which isn't great when you're trying to fall asleep.
As this became more severe I brought it up in therapy and I'm so happy I did. I told my therapist about something I did just before moving to Ireland 5½ years ago. Something I did that doesn't fit the person I've always thought I was. Something that cost me a great friendship and which haunts me. My therapist countered with "Say you remember something you did when you were 9. Would you not be able to forgive yourself for that now?" Which I agreed to but added that I was nine, I probably didn't know better. And his response really killed that argument. He said: "It's not that you didn't know better, you probably did if you're honest with yourself, but that you realize that you're a different person now. You're not that 9-year-old. And is that really that much different to you 5½ years ago?". And thinking back at this event I realized that it wasn't. I made that mistake, something that I deeply regret, but I'd never ever do it again. I took that experience and changed who I was. I've never even been near that kind of situation again because I'm not that person anymore. And after that I suddenly felt an inner calm. At that moment I forgave myself. And that's so, so important. I will still keep that experience with me for the rest of my life, not as a burden but rather as a lesson. A lesson I can look back at, tell my nephews about as learning experience. Because I've forgiven myself. As the next week came along, I started doing this more and more. That situation where I misread friendship as romantic interest? How was I supposed to know? I apologized, profusely, and while it was too hard to remain friends after that she had no ill-will towards me. And I've slept like a baby ever since.
The reason I'm writing this blog isn't actually for myself. I have an outlet now, so I don't feel the need to write about my mental health as much. But I think that a lot of people on the internet, in general, have one, or both, of two issues. We choose to see the negative because it's easier, we choose to hide our excitement at events to "seem cool", and we choose not to forgive ourselves for past mistakes. I wanted to share this to let those people know that it's OK to be excited. It's OK to be hyped. It's OK to forgive yourself. And, if you're lucky, you might even convince other people that these things are OK.