exclamation-circle 2016: Moving Up

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28 Dec 2015 21:05 - 29 Dec 2015 08:53 #1 by Joey
2016: Moving Up was created by Joey
2016: Moving Up
December 28, 2015

Everyone grows older, but not everyone grows up. It is an option, after all – one of the many options we have in a world where we have the freedom to do whatever we so desire, including asinine things. While the past few years have had their singular eventful moments, nothing quite compares to this past year’s itinerary. Was 2015 the best year I’ve had? Well, that depends largely on how one defines “best.” In regards to how it sets up for the years to come and my future endeavors, then I would say that this year has served better than years past. But as a self-contained year of events, I can say with certainty that I’ve had better years. However, I am in no way disheartened for the things that I have endured this year, because it’s the trials we go through that help to define who we are as people. They make us more mature, more vigilant, and much stronger both mentally and emotionally. So, if that’s how you define “best”, then yes; 2015 was the best year I’ve had.

There is a common theme in this past year’s events: change. Since March, I have been in a constant state of evolution, because not only did our momentous move to Florida begin this month, but I haven’t been in a comfort zone since then (partly due to the move as well). Well, to be fair, my comfort zone has been eradicated throughout the entirety of this year, which is a good thing because it has made me more prepared for change. And I can say with logicality that this isn’t the end of headway to higher heights. Something I’ve realized is that people have to be pushed into situations they aren’t ready for. I was. And I made some mistakes. But you can’t spend so much time trying to get ready, because we don’t always have that luxury. If you spend too much thinking about what will go wrong, you’ll never accomplish anything. Putting someone in a situation they aren’t mentally ready for may not always be the smartest decision, but it is without a doubt the most effective one – that I can say from experience.

Preliminary note: The most detailed year review I can give involves the aid of every blog I’ve made this past year, for each one touches on a different topic in closer detail. I’ll organize them fashionably below for you if you so desire. This year review will eclipse all of the topics I’ve covered, and offer some additional insight. Here is the list of blog topics from this past year:
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- The Sky is Yours (Jan.) – Sometimes the best plan is no plan at all
- Secrets and Beauty (Feb.) – A personal conversation and the effect it had
- Map of Mistakes (Mar.) – Near-fatal wreck and how it affected me
- After the Sun Goes Down (Apr.) – There is always a bright side
- Black Flags (Apr.) – Forgive and forget
- The Things That Harm Us (May) – Exactly that
- What We Become (May) – How we progress as people and my graduation speech
- Civil War (Aug.) – Domestically dysfunctional summer
- Damsel in Distress (Sep.) – The end of our move to Florida
- My First Time (Sep.) – Flashbacks to all my firsts
- Why Luck Sucks (Oct.) – Advice on how to handle luck
- Ashes and Anguish (Oct.) – People you care about deserve to know that you care
- Kindred Questions (Nov.) – The difference between right and wrong
- Full Circle (Nov.) – The present moment is all you ever have

Additionally, if you’d like more frameworks on my life and/or other scattered bits of advice, you can read through my 2014 year review (along with the blogs within that year). I’ll also note that my blog, Full Circle, is one to read along with this review, since it somewhat ties into this and it’s more contextual.

NOTE: It’s possible you may have questions/comments to any of the aforementioned topics. Please do not reply to any old blog posts so as to fit the fashionable formalities as set by the forum. Instead, feel free to invite any discussion you may otherwise have in this thread. 
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Now, let’s divide this year into four phases:

ACADEMIC PHASE (January – March)

I vividly remember the first day of this year. It was a cold, wintry morning (no snow, however). I awoke excited to go to GiGi’s Cupcakes, as I was enticed to enjoy a hot, warm collage of eccentric tastes before I went to work. Unfortunately, they were closed. While my joy was killed, I looked on the bright side – maybe they would be open the next day. But I was off work, so I didn’t go. I planned to go the day afterwards. The reality is that I never went back.

When you have a plan to do something at one specific time, you plan everything else around that. Yet, when it doesn’t go exactly how you plan, your immediate follow-up plan may be to give up. Then you realize you can just try it again – maybe in a different way. But you keep saying that. Days, weeks, and soon months pass, and still nothing. While my example was trivial, it’s a reality that everyone (including myself) has become a victim of. A difference cannot be made, your comfort zone will never be stretched – you will never grow up if you keep saying “I will” rather than “I did.”

- My year started off academically fruitful. I was already enrolled in two college courses and aced both. I focused largely on my studies and my work because those were among the few things I cared about – I didn’t have many friends, remember. And I’m thankful for that, as it made me more aware of what things I did truly care about, and what people had a positive impact on my life. In January, I had a few new interests, most notably cube puzzles. It was just a hobby, but it gave me something to do that I had never tried before, which I enjoyed. Aside from that, school was relatively a blur in that memories from this month are distant from my mind.

- In February, things fired up a bit. I finished one of my two college courses early, was accepted to University of Central Florida (UCF), and I volunteered to tutor a mentally handicapped child in the third grade. Many of you may consider this to be noble, but I rather consider it a valuable use of my time. Remember, helping just one person is all that’s needed to change the world. In addition to this (and almost ironically), I became a target at my school due to my effeminacy. Comfort no longer was an option, and I didn’t feel safe at school. However, I didn’t let that stop me from excelling, and instead used this situation to grow from in later months (though for the time being, it caused a lot of problems both domestically and at school).

- During this month – on February 13 to be exact – I started a MS Word document that detailed every day of my life from then on. At the end of each day, I would summarize what I did that day and log it as a new entry. This continues to this day, meaning that I can recall what I’ve done every single day this past year since February 13. Doing this was a great way to keep track of how I live my everyday life, in addition to being an effective way to look back and see how I’ve transitioned throughout the year! Daily blogging (even if it’s just for personal keepsake) is something I intend to continue doing indefinitely, and I’d encourage it to anyone!

TRANSITION PHASE (March – June)

So, by now we have established an already changing dynamic. Throughout the remainder of senior year, school was an unpleasant experience for the most part. But, I will highlight the better memories from it because there are some events worth noting. This change in pace helped to prepare me for a harsh reality: Not everybody will like you, ever.

- In March, two things happened. First, my mom/dad drove down to Florida to find a home. My dad came back six days later, and mom stayed in her grandmother’s old home while she looked for us a new house, specifically around the Orlando area (due to my acceptance into UCF). Second thing to note was my wreck in which I supposedly would not have made it, had I not been wearing my seat belt (though I refrain from using the wording “I should have died” because that’s just overdramatizing a situation in which nobody really knows what would have happened otherwise). Conveniently enough, this was while both my parents were in Florida. I also recorded the date of the wreck: Friday, March 13. Talk about superstition.

- I walked away from the wreck a changed person. While March was quite an eventful start to a chain of events that continue to this day, April was far less exciting. At my high school, the senior class was in charge of planning the prom. Because many of my peers couldn’t have cared less about it, I took control of planning it along with two other people, of whom I befriended greatly until graduation where we went our separate ways. Prom was a success because it was beautiful and I went with my best friend, who is the only person I still actively communicate with on a personal level. She and I have been comrades since the seventh grade, and have been through hoops together. We understand each other and I’m thankful that we know each other. Additionally, prom was one of the first nights that I was truly out by myself, traveling over five cities, which was a refreshing feeling.

- By the time May came around, the events of February seemed to have been forgotten, at least on the surface. It was the end of the journey, I finished up my senior projects (including a 31-page paper/presentation on Common Core), and finished my second college course. The process of condolences and goodbyes commenced (including quitting my job due to relocation). And then, I graduated (at the top of my class, might I shamelessly add). I am thankful that my graduation night was optimistic, as my third-grade teacher showed up. I recall the day I told her I would invite her to my graduation, and to have that reunion was a beautiful closure as I made my departure from being a student. It was honestly a refreshing night, and probably the last night all of our family would be together for a long time. This, of course, was because of our parting to Florida that would take place at the beginning of June. And while I didn’t know it at the time, it was the last night for a while in which I felt truly good about myself.

DEPRESSION PHASE (June – September)

When people think of Florida, they think of enthusiasm and vibrancy. When our family had been discussing the move, all we considered were the benefits and how much “better life would be,” almost parallel to the mindset of the farmers migrating to California during the Dust Bowl. Unfortunately, because this isn’t a perfect world, you can never really set expectations without first knowing how to achieve them. Otherwise, you set yourself up for failure, especially if you have no backup plan. This is exactly how our move to Florida played out, and why it took much longer than was initially planned. You may have guessed that this had an effect on me. You would be correct.

- Mom came back, and the three of us (her, my brother, and I) drove down to Florida in a U-Haul filled with our house on June 6, 2015. The plan was that dad would stay and sell our old home and fly down. The first few days in Florida were relaxing, but that’s to be expected when you are surrounded by a new environment. Throughout June, I felt I took a step backwards. Through the first half of the year, I felt responsible and accomplished – as though I was going somewhere in life. But that feeling diminished when I became secluded, trapped in the heat of domestic conflict with no job or school to escape to.

- This was a difficult feeling to combat. So, I ventured into territory that I hadn’t visited since early 2012. In July, I opened an old hard drive only to find many of the games that I spent time playing and modifying over the course of my earlier years (Marble Blast included). I spent many of my days returning to these old projects, tying up loose ends and playing to take my mind off of everything. My focus on college was completely exterminated when I realized we didn’t even know where we were going to live (so that meant UCF was out since that’s in Orlando). This delayed my plans of going to college in the fall, which at this point would not happen. Do you ever hear people say they will spend their night eating ice-cream, watching Netflix, and crying? It is true that I had many of those nights.

- While this next bit is touchy for me to discuss (because it’s a personal matter that really shouldn’t be discussed), it’s crucial to note that we couldn’t sell our old home as it was wrongfully foreclosed on. This caused a major shift in our family’s dynamic that was impossible to avoid.

- August was not much better. I believe I was deteriorating in some ways, because I didn’t have the same drive or motivation for success as I did in earlier months. This was a huge problem because I tend to have massive ambitions. Many days I would listen to the rain and sleep; other days I would listen to the erratic voices of my parents, fighting across three states without any resolutions. It was at this point that I found myself falling into a depressed state, which I was consciously aware of. I did find an escape, though. My mom’s aunt lives within 30 minutes down here, and I often hung out with her when the opportunity arose, as she is a very outgoing and mentally young person. This gave me more chances to explore the state we now called home, which was refreshing for someone who has had little social interaction the entire summer.

- Near the end of the month, it was decided that I would fly back to Kentucky to bring dad down to Florida. This was because he was reluctant to come down on his own; after the house was lost, a certain string of emotions was tested in him. I understood greatly how much dad was upset (as the rest of us were), and I was even afraid of certain intermittent behaviors to occur. You can imagine that when you plan on making $80,000+ off of a house, it can be difficult to deal with the fact that it was wrongfully taken and you get nothing as a result. It was at this point that we had absolutely no back-up plan, which is dangerous.

- I spent my 17th birthday in Kentucky, crossed between my grandparent’s home and our old home that was no longer a suitable living environment. The week that I spent back in Kentucky was unforgettably climactic, full of both conflict and resolution, and primitiveness, of course. The full story is concluded in Damsel in Distress, but the week basically ended with us having a family reunion in our new [interim] Florida house (I say that because we never owned or even rented the home; we are simply staying in it until we get kicked out, basically). Throughout the rest of September, things got chaotic. I saw that coming, but coming to terms with the fact that there was nothing to look forward to hurt me. I actively was searching for a job this month, but that didn’t work out. This was also during that phase when my parents could not decide where to live, which complicated plans. Oh, we also had to put our dog down.

FUTURE PHASE (October – December)

The summer was dark – I think that has been established. I would definitely agree that I took a step backwards in a way. But, I learned things and arose from that situation a bettered person. I would never have been able to do that if I didn’t go through that phase. You can tell someone one thing, but they won’t understand until they experience it themselves. And that is something I can attest to for what has essentially been this entire year. What I realized was that I would get nowhere if I didn’t try for something, despite my circumstances and despite the situation that I was in – that I couldn’t let a simple circumstance hold me back from all my potential. This was my inspiration for writing Why Luck Sucks, and what started my determination to make something of myself. Because, no matter how difficult or terrible something is, you can find beauty in anything. It takes time, but I think I’m recovering now that I have something to look forward to. Let’s look at how the recovery transpired.

- A major detail that I purposefully skipped over was that related to my plans in music. I abandoned all of them over the summer, and I’ll explain why. My entire idea was based around one hope: that I would win the lottery (metaphorically speaking) and release a grand production that would be renowned and instantly famous. I was immature in this respect, not understanding or coming to grasps with the reality that it doesn’t work this way. I abandoned my alias, “Tech Warrior,” and left all my work archived never to be touched again. So, while my depression phase caused a lot of problems, you can see that it helped me to face certain realities, including the fact that I was wasting my time chasing a pipe fantasy that was unrealistic. The other thing was that “Tech Warrior” carried a lot of memories, many of which I’m not fond of. So, I think leaving that era of life in lieu of something better was the apt thing to do.

- The real recovery started after I actually did get a job, as you might figure, at the end of October. But even earlier in the month, I already rebuilt a motivation in developing new college plans. For example, I was accepted to a local state college (which used to be a community college) and attended orientation for that. It became possible that I could start college in the spring (January). Now, paying for it was another matter, but we’ll get to that. The real point here is that I believed in myself that I could achieve, and I went out to make that possible, even if it was through baby steps. My ambitions that I always had throughout high school were slowly returning. From what I’ve learned (and still am learning), the best way to work through something is to look at it as an opportunity for success rather than as a justifiable reason to give up.

- The first week of November was yet another new experience for me. I drove up to Orlando (over two hours from where we live) to fly back up to Kentucky, this time to drive down to Gatlinburg to spend a week with my extended family. This experience was a refreshing break from some of the madness that comprised my home life. I also met some of my former co-workers again while I was up there – the first time since May in fact. This is also the month that I actually started working at Starbucks, albeit it was three weeks in training. Regardless, it was some of the first personal interaction that I had regularly since May. I met some new people, and even went as far as hang (!) with a few! I wouldn’t call any of them my friends – not yet – because that’s a slow process. Nonetheless, I’m enticed to see how these new relationships develop.

- December was a massive game-changer on many levels, much of which occurred during the first week in fact. You know, if I hadn’t planned ahead, things here would have ended very desperately. But I’ve learned from certain events, and I will explain in detail what I could not in Full Circle, because this chain of events occurred after publishing that. To start, it was true that we were not staying where we had been living due to expenses; we then spent some time searching for a new house until we realized that doing so as a family wasn’t going to work out. This led to my parents deciding on a divorce (mind you, they’ve said this many times before, and so I wouldn’t be surprised if this was just another one of those times) after there had apparently been both verbal and physical harassing (I can’t confirm the latter) as of late. Christmas was an awkward day, as you might figure.

- Starbucks offers a Scholarship Achievement Plan through ASU (Arizona State University), in which you can take all online classes and be credited for walk-in classes. Tuition is also paid, so long as you fall into the eligibility requirements as a Starbucks partner. After some talks with my boss, we got that taken of, and I was admitted almost immediately to the program. What’s particularly interesting here is that I had been working on two completely separate paths at the same time. I knew that things would not end smoothly with our living situation, and that’s partly why I tried so hard to get a job at Starbucks – because of this achievement plan in case of complications. It looks like that’s paying off.

- For example, I had been regularly meeting with my advisor at IRSC in planning my schedule, while at the same time admitting myself to ASU and getting into a completely different program. But the two paths came to a head quickly. I learned that the only financial aid at IRSC I was eligible for was a student loan, and I’d still have to come out of pocket thousands of dollars up front. Plus, if you attend two colleges simultaneously, you can only accept financial aid from one. Upon hearing this news, I dropped from IRSC, because it honestly was not worth all that money (since I’m technically out-of-state). I have to admit, being in this situation may not have been the smartest thing to do, but sometimes you have to take risks to make things possible for yourself. If I’ve learned anything this year, it’s that.

I truly do believe that my parents both want what is best for me, which is why the conflict is complicated. But they disagree about almost everything, and they have used me as a topic of argument, often times trying to convince me why they are the better parent. But things aren’t the way they were before, when I was just a child – naïve, without a sense of direction, and dependent. My parents still think they have a considerable amount of influence on me, and while I still learn some things from them, I’ve developed into who I will be. Everything that follows will be based entirely on my own experiences, judgments, successes, and mistakes. Thus, it doesn’t matter who I live with from that standpoint because I’ve already been raised, so to speak. If I had the funds (I don’t), I would already be emancipated. Although many people would tell me I’m far from mentally prepared for that, I’ll combat that by saying that everything I’ve accomplished so far has been both by my own choices and my own actions. I’ve successfully started a new life in a state that I didn’t want to live in, and have so far gotten further than my parents in a state they did want to live in (not that this is a competition, but just for argument's sake). I think I’ve proven that I can take a shitty situation and adapt to it pretty damn well.

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In short, I think I enveloped all possible human emotions into one year, tied up neatly with a bow. These emotions have helped to create the person I am today. They have also made me open to almost anything. I try not to be too close-minded about things, because the reality is that life is long, opinions change, and thus you should never limit yourself in what you think, what you believe, and how you choose to view things as they are versus how you wish they were – constraining your thoughts and ideas because of insecurities and disconcerting communal insinuations, and then continuing to tell yourself that you’re always right. No, I do not believe in that at all.

With the way things are looking now, next year will be sort of a “part two” to this story arc in my life (but hopefully that ends early on, since I’m tired of talking about it and I don’t blame you if you’re tired of hearing about it). The reality is that we’re at a turning point in a lot of different areas, and even though we should already be done with this, I’ve learned to stop planning prematurely when it comes to depending on other people, even if those people are my own family. Thus, there’s no way I could tell you how the year will go. I do love my family; I just wish we could all come together and realize that we’re screwing ourselves over for something that isn’t meant to be. It’s true that we’re starting to recognize that, and while there’s no way in hell this will end well, it will end after all. But, having said all that, I do have some projects that I intend to complete next year. Whether or not they are completed is entirely up to me, since their completion is not dependent on anyone except me. These would include the following: a massive novel, an anthology of sorts, a new album, and a theatrical portfolio. I also plan to blog a lot more next year, for two reasons. First, there is still a plethora of topics I haven’t yet discussed (and if I can tie them all into my own life, then bonus points). Secondly, I’ve realized this past year how much blogging about my circumstances has helped me get through them. Because I know next year will be much more eventful, albeit in dissimilar ways, I think documenting my journey is part of enjoying it to the fullest. 

I think it’s appropriate to close this year review by explicitly sharing my goal with blogging here, as opposed to an external blog. This site has been a haven for me for over five years, which may not seem like a lot. But a lot can happen in five years; I would never share half of what I write here with anyone outside this community, because I feel comfortable enough here to consider you guys a family of sorts. And everyone needs that. My goal is not just to share my life, but also to inspire those of you who may be struggling emotionally, going through hardships, or perhaps you just need to know that you are not alone. I always encourage you to share your experiences and what you’ve learned from them. Remember; don’t wait to enjoy the destination (i.e. “I’ll wait for my career to take off to be happy”). Enjoy the journey getting to the destination, and make the most of the things you are doing now, otherwise you’ll never arrive at that goal you seek so much. You have to be willing to fight for what you want, in spite of people who will bring you down and circumstances that may hinder you. You don’t always have to put a positive spin on something to think positively; you just need to spend more time focusing on what you can gain from something rather than dwell on what you don’t like about it. What you do have control over is whether or not you choose to assess and handle the situation. The only way to come out on top is to work your way up.

How about instead of making a list of New Year’s resolutions, we make a list of new day’s resolutions - to be a better person than the day prior; to look at our flaws and improve from them; to not mask humility by justifying our mistakes in a reassuring way so we can sleep better at night; to start each day with a smile, and treat others with respect; to not hide who we are because of unsettling social cues and a worry about whether or not we’ll fit in; to find contentment in everything we do, focusing on the present and the present only, instead of complaining about why we’re not where we want to be in life or why we were better off before; to grow up - to stop saying "I will" and instead say "I did."

Finally, I’d like to conclude with a short poem I wrote earlier this year, titled Journey’s End:

When the clock ticks,
Your heart ticks faster.
When the clouds move,
You move faster –
You want to catch up with the world
But you refuse to grow up.
You want to do everything
But you feel like doing nothing.
You ask for happiness
But you respond with guilt.
You waste time finding passion
Instead of letting passion find you.
You say you’re okay
But then you believe it.
You focus on the future
Until you see your future.
Or rather –
The future you’ve led yourself to believe in.

A train sits dormant at its station,
Waiting to be controlled.
Its path is already set;
It already has a destination waiting for it.
It lacks control over its inevitable fate.
Are we like the train?
Or are we the ones who created the train –
The ones who designed its path
And decided its destiny?
Once it has arrived at the station,
Quietly awaiting its next departure,
One journey has ended.
But another is about to begin.

While we say goodbye to one phase of life,
We say hello to another.
We carry with us our troubles,
But we also carry what we gained from them.
Because,
The journey doesn’t end when one battle is won.
It continues to evolve to create who we are.
It isn’t circumstantial closure
That marks the journey’s end.
It’s when your soul is put to rest
That you mark your journey’s end.

Additionally, I think it’s more than appropriate to share with you my very last production as “Tech Warrior,” released back in July, here (click ‘here’). I suppose the sky really is the limit from here, so I think I wrapped up that era of life fittingly.

Thanks for reading this through your screen,
Onwards and upwards, to 2016!

~ Joey

I love you, but your attitude is like that of a shrew. Your options? Take a pill or be my kill. Might I suggest that you wear a vest. Perish in class or be banished to the land of bluegrass, where dreams don't exist as you'll be eternally pissed.
Last edit: 29 Dec 2015 08:53 by Joey.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Jeff, Marson, Nockess, Technostar, Rock, Xedron

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