Tuesday 15 September 2015

My 2014 10Q answers

I've been doing this exercise in personal reflection every September since 2010 (see also my 2011, 2012 and 2013 answers). I was starting to sound like a broken record, complaining about the same problems year after year, but over the past 12 months I've made a number of breakthroughs and this time last year you can see I was starting to sense that things were changing for the better.

Day 1:

Describe a significant experience that has happened in the past year. How did it affect you? Are you grateful? Relieved? Resentful? Inspired?

My answer:

I've fallen in love twice this year. Both times I told the girl how I felt about her and both times my feelings were unrequited. I'm getting used to this, sadly.

The first time, I kinda knew the response I'd get. She doesn't really do boys. But I thought I had to tell her all the same. I figured it would help us both out: it would stop me living in doubt and it might be nice for her confidence to know how lovely she is.

I'm grateful that I had the courage to do it instead of stewing on it in painful doubt for months. I'm relieved to have an answer. I'm saddened that it was a "no", but at least I know.

I dealt with it by talking about it with two close friends. One of them challenged me to ask another person out. So I did.

I asked out this other girl that I'd met through work at the beginning of the year. I liked her immediately, but I figured she was so lovely she was bound to have a boyfriend, so I didn't do anything about it at the time.

The challenge from my friend helped me. It gave me a reason just to take the plunge. I asked her out and she said yes. We had 5 lovely dates together and after the fifth, I told her how I felt about her. She wanted some time to think about it, but the signs weren't good.

Indeed they weren't. She was quite upset when she told me that she wasn't in the right place at the moment and couldn't give me what I want. This was harder for me to accept because I'd got my hopes up, but I do accept it - even if I don't agree with it.

To be honest, I still have (very) faint hopes it's not over, but I know that's not fair on her. We've agreed not to talk to each other, but we still have occasional contact on social media and email.

I was saddened by this and it made me grumpy for a few days after we'd agreed not to talk to each other. I'm mourning the loss of the future I'd imagined together. Again, I worry that I take things too far and fantasize about a future in my head instead of living in the real world.

I'm trying to smile because it happened rather than cry because it's over. It certainly was a lovely way to spend the spring and early summer and I'm grateful for the wonderful time we had together.

Day 2:

Is there something that you wish you had done differently this past year? Alternatively, is there something you're especially proud of from this past year?

My answer:

I tend not to have regrets, but I do wish I'd acted on my urge to kiss a girl. Once when I gave her a hug to keep warm after we'd been swimming in the sea. And once when we were lying side by side in a forest glade of bluebells. I had the thought in both situations, but it didn't feel right at the time. I respect her a lot and sensed it might not have been welcomed.

I'm proud of the fact that I have more courage when it comes to telling a girl how I feel about her. I've done it sooner this year when I have less to lose. The rejection doesn't hurt as much and it allows you to move on to the next person. I feel like I've been collecting rejections this year. They still hurt, but I'm getting used to dealing with them.

Day 3:

Think about a major milestone that happened with your family this past year. How has this affected you?

My answer:

I'm not sure if all of this happened within the past year, but my sister broke up with the father of her three children and got together within another man who is now the father-to-be of her fourth.

I'm not sure if I've seen her at all this year. I feel a bit estranged. It's partly my fault, of course. I make occasional attempts to Skype but don't follow through with it if she's not available. I also haven't been to visit her in Ireland since (I think) 2010 or maybe 2011.

My niece, her eldest, is now at the age (9 years old) I was when I was a proper human being and able to interact with adults on what was starting to feel like a more level playing field (my uncles, my rugby coach).

I haven't made that effort to know what's going on in their lives and to be a part of it.

It's a pretty big deal: your sister having her fourth child. Why don't I care more?

I think I'm a bit jealous of the intimacy my sister and I used to share. She has changed quite a lot and I'm sure I have as well. I guess I want to talk to her about our lives, not about the kids all the time; but the kids are a huge part of her life (but not all of it, of course).

Day 4:

Describe an event in the world that has impacted you this year. How? Why?

My answer:

I always find this question difficult to answer. I'm not that much affected by world events. Well, that's not totally true. I actually listen to the news less now than I used to. And I don't watch TV news or read the newspaper. The news has a negative impact on my mood, so I prefer to listen to podcasts while I'm driving alone. To and from work I sometimes listen to Radio 4, but we sometimes talk over it. I'd rather stretch my mind with new facts and thoughts than pollute it with more of the same depressing stories of war, rape, abuse and political corruption.

Day 5:

Have you had any particularly spiritual experiences this past year? How has this experience affected you? "Spiritual" can be broadly defined to include secular spiritual experiences: artistic, cultural, and so forth.

My answer:

When I was in Rio de Janeiro in February, I had an afternoon out with the girls. They wanted to go shopping for carnival accessories. We then went for posh afternoon tea. I then persuaded them to visit the local cathedral. It looks like an upturned bucket from outside. Inside, I found myself looking up. It's like a giant wonderbox, tapering up to a crucifix in the apex of the roof. The atmosphere was so peaceful in there. A sanctuary of cool quiet. It definitely had an effect on me. I let it.

Someone once said you should visit other people's places of worship, even if you're not religious yourself. I like this idea. I can still share their sense of wonder, even if I don't share their belief.

I've also started communing more with nature. I have been awed by seeing the sunrise three times. I found my happy place in a glade of bluebells. I saw the girl I was with get flowerdrunk. Maybe I'm being a bit loose with the meaning of "spiritual" here. But then maybe I'm not. My spirit was moved by each of these things. I was inspired. My heart expanded. I wondered at the world and the people in it and the things they do to express themselves.

Day 6:

Describe one thing you'd like to achieve by this time next year. Why is this important to you?

My answer:

I'd like to be able to pay my parents back the £3,000 (+3% interest) I borrowed from them to buy my car in June 2013. I'm nearly there.

It's important to me because it will free me up to save for something else and I'll take a certain sense of pride in paying off the loan a year earlier than planned.

Day 7:

How would you like to improve yourself and your life next year? Is there a piece of advice or counsel you received in the past year that could guide you?

My answer:

I think the usual thing of getting more sleep, snoozing less in the mornings. I got 9 hours' sleep last night and snoozed for another hour this morning and still felt tired during the day. Same stuff every year, right?

I think my eating has improved slightly. I've had slightly smaller portions. I've lost a bit of weight and I've kept up the regular exercise even though the microgym has closed at work.

Day 8:

Is there something (a person, a cause, an idea) that you want to investigate more fully in 2015?

My answer:

I would love to get to know Bethany Crowe better - if she'll let me. I met her this year but then we stopped seeing each other for a while after I told her how I feel about her. But we've recently got in touch again and she wants to share her ideas with me about #CitiesForPeople, digital placemaking and the playable city. I read her notes about it last week and it made me so excited: it set my brain on fire - not just the prospect of spending time with her again but also exploring her ideas about this stuff with her and being a sounding board. I love spending time with people who are really enthusiastic about something. It rubs off on me.

Day 9:

What is a fear that you have and how has it limited you? How do you plan on letting it go or overcoming it in the coming year?

My answer:

I'm sometimes afraid of talking to people. My big brother, Gregory, for example. I find it hard to respond when he gives the impression of wanting to be left alone with his monosyllabic answers. He seems really shy these days.

I'm also afraid of my housemates, sometimes - particularly after they seemed cross with me when the cats brought fleas into the house. I tried to be open and honest with them and tried to repair the damage and do the bulk of the cleaning. There were a few awkward moments where we were both in the kitchen doing our own thing and not talking to each other.

To overcome that, I should probably just make the first move and say something and then keep the conversation up - even if it's difficult. Confront it.

Day 10:

When September 2015 rolls around and you receive your answers to your 10Q questions, how do you think you'll feel? What do you think/hope might be different about your life and where you're at as a result of thinking about and answering these questions?

My answer:

I might be proud of the fact that I seem to have realized how to do life well. I feel really happy at the moment. I've learned to be comfortable in my own skin most of the time.

On the other hand, this time next year I may be in a really dark mood and feel a million miles from the state of bliss I feel today.

I sense there might be a lot of life circumstances changing over the next year. I'm open to change.

I very much hope I'm in a loving relationship. If it is with Bethany I'd be dreaming. I'm stupidly optimistic right now. I might be due for a big fall. But at least I'm mindful of that now.

I usually moan that nothing has changed. This year, I feel like something is different for the better.

Day 11:

What are your predictions for 2015?

My answer:

She will love me back, finally.


Record your own answers this year at www.doyou10q.com.

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