Dear Papa Bear,
I've written to you once before for advice, and you'll be glad to know it helped a great deal. I've found a small hobby in perler beads to help pass time and build my confidence while I slowly learn how to sew. I've also discovered that, even if I'm not the kind of successful the world wants me to be, I'll still be so if I'm just happy with what I'm doing and how I'm living.
I currently have a job at Wawa, which is close enough for me to walk or bike to, so I can get some exercise in my daily life. I also built a brand new PC, have some money to spare for having fun every so often, and good friends. There is even a very sweet man who loves me (and will never let me forget it). Overall, I'd say things are going well.
However, I find that following these pursuits is difficult. My usual routine involves what I know to be too much time on said PC and not enough on other interests. I believe part of the issue is me working second shift, which is often early afternoon to late night, often getting home around 11pm or midnight. When I visit my friends, it's often for the sake of playing games, largely because our D&D sessions have stalled. (They were a nice change of pace from video gaming.) I enjoy my time with the beads though, and don't worry about any of your 5 “les facteurs de merde” when making objects. It's just fun. Strangely, I specifically wanted to do these things, and never act upon that desire when I end up with the tools/materials necessary.
After buying a $70 sewing machine, it's been sitting and collecting dust and scraps of material.
I've largely attributed said failure to follow my words to my parents and their failure to instill the drive to succeed in me. But am I wrong, and looking for a scapegoat for my own laziness?
To boil it all down, how can I break this addiction and focus more on the other things I enjoy, as well as caring for myself?
Apologies for such a long-winded question, and thank you for taking the time to read through it all.
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I’m glad life is improving for you and that you’re having fun with beading. Perhaps you have moved beyond les facteurs de merde, but you have still been practicing avoidance techniques. One avoidance technique is to fill your time with other activities unrelated to what you believe you wish to do, and then, voilá, you conveniently have no time left to do that thing. This is the case with your playing games with friends and then not having time left for sewing (are you trying to make fursuits?). Another avoidance technique is to buy lots of stuff related to that goal without actually doing the activity itself. I see this with “writers” a lot. Buying books on how to write, buying a new laptop, etc. I’m guilty of it, too, to the point where I once flew to the Maui Writers’ Conference (really fun! but I didn’t write a damn thing while I was there!) as an elaborate way not to actually get the novel done.
In my previous letter to you I advised you to find a mentor or mentors to help encourage you. Have you tried that? It really helps to have people around you who urge you to pursue your creative activity (this is why I pay for piano lessons; if I didn’t have the routine of taking lessons and having an encouraging teacher, my keyboard would probably gather dust in a corner of my office.)
If you just need to break the gaming habit, I can refer you to this column about gaming addiction.
The other thing is to stop blaming others: don’t blame your parents for not instilling in you a drive to succeed, don’t blame friends for making you want to play games with them, don’t blame a bad work schedule, and don’t blame anyone else. This is on you. Only you can sit down and do the activity you supposedly wish to do.
But I can offer you a little trick that might help: create a reward system for yourself. My personal reward system actually depends on others: when I get a thank you letter (or a nice comment like yours at the beginning of your letter) it gives me a rush that makes me not only want to write more columns but increases my enjoyment of doing it. With crafty projects, such as beading, your reward system could be to give finish projects as impromptu gifts to friends and family and then see their eyes light up at the unexpected present. Or, on the somewhat more selfish side, when you finish a project or a milestone of a larger project, buy yourself a little treat, or, perhaps, take a photo of the item you made and post it on a social media site and read the comments from friends. These are called “positive reinforcement” techniques (I don’t recommend negative reinforcement here—ack).
Finally, try to adjust your attitude from negative to the positive (this relates to les facteurs de merde). Again with my piano, when I see myself making progress and getting better, I get more optimistic and this makes me enjoy practice a lot more. I’m guessing that with beading there are certain levels of the craft, too: some beading skills are more complicated and difficult to master, yes? Urge yourself to take your craft to the next level, and then, when you reach that new level of skill, your heart will fill with the pride of accomplishment and this will really drive you to do it more. It’s kind of like a runner’s high. When someone starts running for fitness, it can be very difficult, tedious, discouraging. But, after doing it for a while, you will push through a wall and suddenly it becomes a joy to run (for a lot of people—I, personally, hate running LOL)! You already enjoy beading, but you can increase this joy by challenging yourself to become a master of the craft. Remember, of course, to always do this for your own personal satisfaction.
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