Context: Once a week, my parents and I have a check-in. In a check-in, each of us, in turn, talks about whatever we want to talk about—this usually includes how we’ve been feeling, anything we’ve been struggling with, upcoming goals or plans—and then we ask for help, if we need any. No one may interrupt while someone else is speaking; no one must judge, but advice is fine, as long as it is asked for. (An old therapist of mine suggested this check-in style of communication for our family and it has done wonders. I cannot recommend it highly enough.)
Tonight, at our first check-in since we’ve all been home from traveling, I found myself saying that I’m really happy with the progress I’ve made in getting back to my goals and, more broadly, getting back to myself, but I’m not 100%. That got me thinking: What does that mean for me, to be 100%? Can it be qualified by the state of mental, emotional, and physical health I was in during my happy years? Certainly that was a time when I was firing on all cylinders, excelling and growing in every aspect of my life. If that’s 100% I may be fucked! I may not ever be 100% again. Okay, so the best I could hope for would be what, 95? But that’s a pretty shitty way to live—measuring how healthy and happy I am at various points in my life, knowing I will never be at my best. Fuck that, right? It’s MY measure I’m making, right? Yeah, I need to recalculate this shit.
What I used to think 100% was for me:
Feeling happy most days of the week.
Feeling stable almost every day.
Cooking dinner multiple nights a week and really enjoying it.
Getting into baking.
Training for a 5K (running at the gym, walking, weight training).
Dieting with DASH and losing weight.
Working on becoming an editor.
Managing my finances perfectly.
How things have been recently:
Feeling happy in little bright bursts, but not very consistently.
Feeling stable about half the time.
Cooking dinner once a week, sometimes enjoying it, sometimes just powering through to get some food on the table.
Not baking at all.
Running at the gym extremely rarely.
No longer dieting.
Working on editing stuff very sporadically.
Managing my finances perfectly. (YAY!)
For that second list, if I’m judging it against its counterpart at 100%, I’d put it at about 75. Not TERRIBLE, but come on, we can do better!
And now I AM doing better:
Feeling happy in bright bursts consistently.
Feeling stable most days.
Cooking dinner at least once a week, with plans to bring that up to 3 times a week. Doing what I can to ensure I still enjoy it, like plugging in my iPod and listening to some tunes.
Not baking, but not because I can’t—because I’m restarting my diet.
Restarting the DASH diet (in Phase One as of today).
Restarting the Cto5K program I was doing before, now dead-set on finishing it.
Making more time for editing; easing into it at first and then taking off!
MANAGING MY FINANCES PERFECTLY. (ShaBOOM)
This last list could maybe be that 95, but I think this 95 should be my new 100. I’m in a great place right now: I’m hopeful for the future; I’m getting back into my hobbies and profession; I’m getting healthier; I’m making goals that I believe I can reach, and I’m doing all of that while walking on somewhat uneven ground. There are two advantages to pushing myself forward while the earth is still shaky beneath me. One: I’m more vigilant. I check in with myself more. I’m constantly looking out for any warning signs (which means I feel as prepared as I can be). Two: When I push myself and succeed when things are shaky, I prove to myself that I can handle the shakiness. I learn that even in uncertainty I can find strength and power.
It’s time now to be both realistic and optimistic. Realistic: that initial 100% may always be out of my reach. Realistic: I cannot hope to never deal with depression or mania or anxiety again. I’ve got a long-ass life ahead (presumably) and there WILL be downs. Optimistic: There will ALSO be ups, and even in the downs I can still meet goals and improve myself and do things that make me happy. Optimistic: This time that I’m in right now, one I dreaded being in, is doing some really important things for me. I can feel it. Maybe THAT’s my 100%. Or, you know, fuck percentages to begin with.