The Case for Eradicating Anxiety

You know something that really sucks, something that we all deal with in varying forms, yet serves little purpose? You guessed it, anxiety.

Now, don’t get me wrong, anxiety does have a historical purpose, I get that. We needed anxiety to evolve- in a primitive sense, if you never worried about “hey, I might die today if that lion sees me”, then, you’d probably have died out of sheer obliviousness. Now, obviously that example does not really hold water in today’s society, as we don’t really have to worry about an everyday survival type of anxiety. But, even in the modern age (Strokes reference) we have to worry. It’s a function built into us, and we can’t just avoid anxiety altogether. You will face it at some point. Some of it is warranted and really does help you out. You probably would never ace a test if you didn’t have an anxious feeling telling you that you needed to study to perform. Or, you’d probably get into a lot of arguments (and some fist fights) if you didn’t worry about the outcome of what you say. But, for the most part, once you’ve learned, you’ve learned- and anxiety can then become excessive, and at times serve no real purpose. For the sake of this post, I’m going to be talking mostly about social anxiety. Some of the most pointless anxiety, I might add.

Social norms are important in our world, or at least we make them out to be. We all want to fit in, we all curb our thoughts and words according to who’s listening. For the most part, social anxiety is a good indicator that you care, and people like when others care about them. Duh.

But, so much of social anxiety is just flat out pointless. I personally have struggled with social anxiety for all of my life. In high school, I’d worry endlessly about the speech I had in a week. I’d never approach a person in class, I was worried I’d come off as awkward and they probably don’t wanna talk anyway. There’s no reason for all of this “meta-cognitive” worry- this worry about things that could happen if you did something. Worrying about worrying. A bit of social anxiety is okay, it keeps you sane to the people listening, and from being obnoxious- some people really don’t wanna talk. However, I find that social anxiety is something that often times just is serving no purpose, and needs to be eliminated. I see it that way. I want to eradicate it for good, that’s my goal.

Not only is social anxiety often pointless, but what’s worse, is that it is one of the single biggest hinderances. It hinders and weighs you down. How many times have you thought  about the things you could have said if you weren’t so nervous? Maybe you don’t think that, because you already say what you want, but if you’re like me and have been weighed down by the burden of being socially anxious, you know exactly what I’m referring to. I can’t tell you the amount of wrong first impressions I’ve made because I was anxious, how many awkward conversations I’ve uttered because I was nervous, or flat out how many people I’ve ruled out of my life because I wasn’t being myself. It sounds super depressing, but I know I’m not the only one who’s dealt with it, so I’m not feeling bad for myself. But there is another point for the complete elimination of anxiety: it holds you down for little to no reason.

Another thing I particularly hate about anxiety is the ‘awkward’ part of it. Why is someone awkward, or better yet what makes a conversation “awkward”? I’ll tell you my idea of what the cause of it is: not being yourself. I watched a video the other day, where it explained that no one is boring. And, I can’t agree more- nobody who’s lived a life is boring. Everyone has a story, and that in itself is exciting. You and I have equally interesting stories to tell if we really wanted to. I could tell you about my documentary I wrote, directed and edited, you could tell  me about your 2 year relationship, or something else personal to you. But, when we decide to hold back on these topics, for fear of revealing ourselves and being rejected (aka, social anxiety in another form), we come off as boring because we don’t share what makes our life interesting. Why don’t we? I don’t know. Because we have this anxiety shit to deal with, and there’s no real purpose for it. So, you’re not boring.

And, you’re not awkward. I tend to refer to myself as an awkward person, but I’m truly not- I just am awkward when my social anxiety clouds my thoughts and makes speaking words and having conversation difficult. I forget that small talk is not nearly as entertaining as deep talk, and then I tend to anticipate too much, and before you know it, it’s gotten awkward. But, I’ve had days where I feel myself and I speak my mind- and then, like magic, I’m not awkward at all. I’m who I am, and I don’t feel uncomfortable. The change was that, for whatever reason, I wasn’t anxious that day- and it revealed my true self.

We all have that ‘true self’, and social anxiety or just generalized anxiety can morph that person without our conscience effort. So, fuck anxiety. Kill it, get rid of it.

I like to think I’ve come a long way from ‘high school level nervousness’. With the help of practice, medication, and experience, I don’t really feel the burden of social anxiety anymore. Sure, I still get nervous and anxious, and I always will have a degree of that, but I like to think for the most part that I’ve beaten it. Do I miss it? Hell no. Not one bit. It’s useless, social anxiety. I couldn’t be myself when it was really bad.

My advice to you, is to see it this way- get rid of anxiety. If you have it, make this a priority on your mental to-do list, if you have one (if you don’t, get one asap): eliminate anxiety. If you feel you can’t do it by conscious effort, or you’ve tried it and it hasn’t really helped all that much, let me offer some natural supplements that help- phenibut and L-Theanine. Both are 100 percent legal supplements that have worked wonders for me. If you’re interested, give them a look up- they’re cheap, natural, and totally legal. No guilt in using supplements if you have a problem, that’s what they’re there for. And, lastly, if you’re trying to obliterate anxiety for good, you still need to make effort. That’s how I see it- no matter what, keep trying it. Fight through the uncomfortable until it’s comfortable.

Anxiety is non-essential, cut it off for good.

Thanks for reading

Luca DeJesu, 11:31 PM

 

Thoughts on Introversion/Extraversion

Yes my site is still alive, and so am I. It’s been about a month since I posted on here, and that was in August-I only managed to write one post that entire month. And, as September is wrapping up, this is the first time I have decided to write. It’s not the most efficient way to gain a following, to put it nicely. But, for the fans of my website, the few of you, not to worry. I still intend on writing for this site for a while, and I am going to make a conscious effort to finish 2017 strong in terms of blog posts. So with that out of the way:

I’ve been really pretty busy for the past ~ month or so. And, in a very normal sense of the term. I have no new video projects, or art pieces to describe, as it’s not that I’ve been occupied with that sort of stuff, but the usual: work and school. I’ve been working close to 40 hours a week for almost two months or so now, because my job has been short staffed, and with my classes going on now, I don’t have as much free time as I did say at the beginning of the summer.

I kind of like it, to be completely honest. It keeps me active, I’m making money, I’m working towards my degree, I’m doing stuff that matters. On the flip side, though, is less time for creative outlets such as my website.

One thing I did in some free time this weekend, however, is revisit the Myers-Briggs Personality test. You know, the one that everyone knows about, and the same one I took and wrote about in a post at the start of the year. It’s really interesting stuff, and as I said before, it’s very accurate, at least for me.

I took it again, and got the same result: INFP. The dreamer/mediator.

So, if anything, this just confirms again that I fall into this category. What was different, this time around? Well, I tried answering even more truthfully, if that makes sense. Not that I wasn’t trying to be 100 percent honest the first time I took it, but I spent more time on it and thought through my responses more. Imagining more scenarios. Thinking about past experiences in which the question came up. That sort of thing. And, as a result, only one thing came back different, and that was the part- the introversion part. First time around, I think it was something like I was 60 percent introverted as opposed to 40 percent extraverted. This time, it was a 90 percent introversion spread. Which, to be fair, I think is a bit more on the dot.

I’ve always been an introvert, I know it, my family knows it, and my friends know it. There is no debating it, unless something drastically changes, I am a typical introvert. I can’t really be much more introverted than I already am. I mention this because I feel like a lot of people (online, in person, etc) claim they are introverted when we know they are not. They may have some traits, they might mix up ‘introversion’ and ‘shyness’, that kind of thing.

I don’t know why some people are introverted and some are extraverted. It’s in genetics, in part, and the other part is experiences. Growing up, what you see and do can have a pretty big impact on how you are socially.

Nothing exciting happened to cue my general quietness, sorry to disappoint. I know you were probably hoping for some juicy backstory, but there isn’t one. I just always have been this way. Apparently, as a young kid, I would refuse to talk unless completely necessary- my mom said that when I wanted something, I would just point at it and grunt until I was like 5 years old. In grade school, I was always the shy kid, I always had a friend group but the ones I invited over were few and far between. Never wanted to walk in the middle of my family when we took walks. High school rolls around, I try the whole ‘popular thing’ with the basketball crew, and I always find myself skipping out on the dinners and being the odd one out. Present day, I accept my view more, and realize I need that alone time. Anyways.

Do you ever think that the population of extroverts is small, or at least dwindling? That might sound a bit dramatic.

Seriously, though. I feel like more often than not, people are more and more introverted, and that socially confident person in the group is becoming less and less common. It’s a gift to be naturally extraverted- to be born with a sense of wanting to socialize and doing it fairly well from the get go, I understand that. Practically everyone who wants to be more outgoing has to make a conscious effort, to a degree. Being outgoing is learned. However, the difference that I find separates someone from being categorized as a extrovert/introvert lies behind desire. 

Anyone can be more sociable and improve their people skills. It’s true- with some practice, maybe a little help from medication (I’m talking only if you have social anxiety or anxiety that is mentally holding you back-not recreational drug use), and some self motivation, you and anyone else can be a better talker. However, when you do this, you practice it, maybe multiple times, whether or not you enjoy it is what makes the distinction, in my eyes.

I have forced myself to go out countless times, to parties, friend-kickbacks, family gatherings, you name it. And, for some part, I always will do that- you can’t be a hermit and say no to everything, even if the majority of the time you want to stay in for the night.  And, not all nights do I wanna stay in- there are plenty of nights this summer that I was away from home with friends. In fact, even a majority I’d say. The catch? They were all my closest friends. The people I know best and have taken a long time to get to know, there is more desire for me because I feel way more relaxed and at home with them. My friend David mentioned something to this point the other night- he had some other friends over that he hadn’t seen in a while, and when they left he said he’d honestly felt a bit ‘relieved’- he felt more relaxed and calm with me since we’d been hanging out so much this summer. It was something he was used to, and because of that, it was less socially taxing to him. 

I’ve learned that I require a lot of motivation to go hangout with new people, if there is no close friend in the group. And, if I decide to stave off my natural inclination to ‘hang a different night’ with the group, I find myself pretty exhausted mentally when I get back.

A sort of formula could even be made up for this phenomenon. Using made up numbers, I’ll put together my quantitative definition of an introvert vs an extrovert:

An introvert is something like for every 1 hour spent with a relatively new group of friends, they need something like 2-3 hours alone to reflect or just be alone. On the opposite of this made up formula, an extrovert would take an hour with that same group and maybe need no alone time to reflect, in fact they might want more than an hour in the group in the first place. You get the point? Sure, you can go out and you can even be with friends often, but what can define you as quiet or reserved vs ‘life of the crowd’ is how much you desire to do it, and how much satisfaction you get from it.

So what do you think you are?

Thanks for reading

Luca DeJesu, 11:02 PM

Clinical Procrastination

This site still exists.

I need to put that there because, at this point, a lot of people who followed my blog probably have wondered if I’ve just thrown in the towel on blogging. Well, I haven’t, I’ve just forgotten time and time again to write stuff. I’ve even planned a few posts, put them off a few days, and then days morph to weeks, and here we are, the 2nd or maybe 3rd post in ~2 months.

It’s a shame because I’ve always acknowledged that ‘consistency is key’ and all of that, yet I have periods where I ignore that statement completely. Truly, if I want a consistent and true following on anything, I’d have to learn to push past procrastination.

The mighty, infamous, procrastination. Likely, you’ve done it before, you’ve heard your friend talk about it before, and you’re pretty familiar with the word itself. It’s the lazy man’s choice in high school- why do today what you can out off ’til tomorrow? Well, because it’s a habit, and in some ways, an addiction.

I don’t mean to say I’m addicted to procrastination, because I hate the act, but I seem to constantly keep coming back to it. Just ask my Mom what my biggest weakness is; she will probably tell you all about my procrastination issue.

It’s almost to the point now where it feels somewhat involuntary. Like, I procrastinate so often that it’s just part of ‘the process’ at this point. It has seemed uncontrollable at times, but that may be a bit dramatic.

For example, my New Year’s Resolutions tell the story pretty well. I said I’d learn guitar, I did for about 3-4 months, and now I haven’t picked up the instrument since June. I also made it a point that I’d get a documentary churned out by this year, and although I actually saw that goal to completion, it took maybe 2 months longer than I planned it to. I also have just generally procrastinated this summer a lot- oil needed to be changed on my car at the end of June, routine maintenance light needs to be shut off, need to finalize my decision on a college to go to after this semester, etc. The list really goes on and on, and I feel like addressing the issue (procrastination) only slightly alleviates the problem, yet I haven’t been able to more or less ‘cure’ myself of it. It’s truly the one symptom of ADD that I believe I actually do have. Earlier this year, when I was on ADD medication and still weighing the chance that maybe “yeah, I do have ADD”, that was the one thing that strung my curiosity along: I am a master procrastinator. That is the one thing that made me think I maybe did have ADD, because when I look objectively on my life and the sort, I’ve always stumbled upon putting things off until tomorrow. I still have iOS9, I have been clicking the ‘remind me tomorrow’ button on my laptop for months, you get the point. I can stop it though, if I wanted to. Wait, but, can I? It’s the same kind of thing drug addicts say about their drug addiction. Well, I could stop smoking if I wanted to. I could never open another bottle of beer if I truly desired that. Well, think about it- could you? 

Thanks for reading

Luca DeJesu, 3:56 PM

Cold Showers and Coffee

Ahh, just in time before July ends! I think that’s…two posts this month? Man. If I had a following, I’d have lost them by now, surely. The key to keeping people interested is really consistency, and man have I been the opposite of that this summer. I remember I thought about doing a “post-a-day” thing, where I’d make a new post for each day. Safe to say that didn’t happen, but does it really matter? Eh.

There is no real reason as to why I’ve been absent from my website, I just haven’t felt like writing about much. Summer has been good, but it has been really quite normal if that makes sense. I’ve basically just been working, hanging out with friends, and making some videos.

Oh, by the way, my documentary is finally finished and posted. Took me long enough. It came out alright, it definitely feels like it could’ve been better. But, that’s how I feel about every thing I make after it’s made- not to worry, I’m working on new videos already. Here is the link to “The Pursuit of Prescription” (my mini documentary):

 

Check it out if ya want.

Anyways, I did want to write tonight, as evident by what you’re reading. I’m not abandoning my site, promise. Never was gonna just let it sit and disappear, I just don’t wanna force writing. I’ve been pretty “at peace” all summer, and thus, no real writing inspiration. Writing usually comes about when there are troubles or fortunes, it’s never really something you think about doing when you’re just comfortable doing what you’re doing.

One thing that’s happened of note is I finally cut ties with amphetamine. It was a 4-5 month relationship and I couldn’t really wait to find a way out. It seemed I wasn’t going to ‘find a way out’ for the longest time- it seemed like I was gonna rely on vyvanse or adderall or some edgy stimulant for the end of time. Because, it was supposed to fix my ‘ADD’ or whatever- really, I needed it for my alertness. I’ve gone over this before- it was a double edged sword. 

Why a double edged sword? Well, I wanted to stay on it, because it (vyvanse, aka extended release amphetamine/adderall) kept me more awake, and reduced my urge to nap, and I got more done on it, naturally.

Whilst having that productivity and general increase in wakefulness, however, there was a hefty load of anxiety, social anxiety, robotic-ness, and overall flatline emotion. Never feeling like myself. Feeling too anxious to go on dates. Feeling too robotic to joke. Not being  able to wholeheartedly laugh. Ask anyone that’s had to rely on amphetamine or the similar, they’ll tell you. Or maybe they won’t, or maybe you yourself have been on it and don’t really follow. Well, a CNS stimulant as powerful as anything with amphetamine in it is going to magnify anxiety, so if you’re an anxious person, strap yourself in. You’re in for a ride.

I read a post that someone made online in regards to adderall/vyvanse. They titled it something like “amphetamine; the drug you learn to hate”, and the post was devoted to explaining the stages of getting accustomed to being on a stimulant. Starts off as “wow, this stuff is amazing!” to “ehh, I’m getting more done but ehh”, all the way to “holy shit I’m agitated all of the time”.

How did I find a way out of it? Well, as much as I wanna say that I cured my sleep issue, that’s not what happened, but rather I found something else that just works much better.

First, I’ve cleaned up my diet quite a bit this summer. More vegetables, fruit, coconut/MCT oil, curcumin, methylated folate, antioxidants, etc. I had to get that part nailed down, because if anything health related is going to be fixed, it starts with lifestyle, in my opinion. Then, I started exercising daily again- I’m getting back into basketball, and hopefully by August I’ll be in the weight room. So first, natural stuff has helped.

Next, I started doing new habits and minor things like that. I don’t know how much all of my 2 am Google science research will help in the future, but it definitely is time well spent, in my eyes. Figuring out all of my issues, relating them to people online- it doesn’t scare me, in fact, it does the opposite. The more knowledge I have, the better off I am. I believe that. Minor little habits also have helped; for example, I haven’t taken a warm shower in weeks. Cold water every day- the willpower it takes to hop in has gotta be doing something for me. I (literally) feel it.

Reducing sugar, less dairy, less processed food, less snacking, I’m sure has done a lot to help. But, the medication switch is what has allowed me to leave vyvanse in the rearview like I’ve wanted to for a while. I am now on what’s called modafinil, and man I couldn’t recommend the stuff enough. Well, if you have sleep issues, that is. Modafinil (or ProVigil) is not amphetamine, it is technically qualified as a ‘CNS stimulant’, but what it really is is a “wakefulness promoting drug”. That is what I needed, something that was simply designed to just wake me up. 

I’ve said this all along, I told all of my doctors this same thing: I’m sleepy, I’m not having attention issues, I’m just sleepy. It’s always funny to me to hear some doctor’s responses: “You’re not sleepy”. Think I’m bullshitting you? Nope! One of my doctors literally told me that to my face. Safe to say, I stopped visiting that dude. He’s a waste of my time, if he’s going to tell me what I feel. Now before I get angry talking about that man, I’ll continue along with why modafinil has flipped the switch.

It’s subtle. My heart doesn’t race on it. It’s not that strong at all, but it clears my mind up better than anything yet. It makes me feel ‘normal’, which is just what I wanted. I still can feel sleepy on it, but the edge of sleepiness is much gone. I don’t need to nap, and I have more and more wakeful moments on it. Best part? No more anxiety on it. I feel like myself, I am being myself, and people are noticing. All my coworkers are asking where this new “joking Luca” came from. They just don’t know it’s who I always was, underneath that shit amphetamine mask.

Modafinil is a medication for sleep apnea, shift work sleep disorder, and narcolepsy. It’s not for ADD. If a healthy individual takes it, they won’t feel much, maybe just a cleared head. Many people online claim modafinil/provigil to be the “limitless drug”, a ‘cognitive enhancer’, a smart drug. I’ll be the first to tell you, so you don’t waste your time- it’s not that. It’s so subtle and calm that it’s almost like a vitamin supplement. For me, though, a person who’s always sleepy for seemingly no reason, it helps me level the playing field.

So that’s been an update on what’s going on with me lately. I’ve been comfortable, I’ve felt like myself, and I don’t feel the need to do any much more than that. It’s good to be back!

Thanks for reading

Luca DeJesu, 2:29 AM

Sleep Pseudoscience

This is going to be a weird post, I’m just going to start with that. I’ve been doing a lot of ‘google research’ about sleep, sleep cycles, sleep disorders, and all of the related. I’ve done plenty before, not just because I am trying to understand my own sleep issues, but because it’s a genuinely interesting subject.

Sleep is actually relatively mysterious to the scientific community. That sentence alone took me personally by surprise, as I thought that much of it was understood at this point. But, no- scientists don’t know much about it, they don’t know why a lot of the sleep disorders that people have exist, and they don’t even confidently know why we dream at night. I don’t know about you, but that fact shocks me. I guess I put too much confidence in science with thinking we had it all figured out, but regardless, there’s always going to be more to find out.

I’ve got an idea, maybe an unofficial theory, about a sleep disorder that is probably regarded as the most mysterious of them all. And, I’m gonna attempt to explain it in simple terms, without dragging on, because I’m selling myself on it and I want other people to be sold. Maybe a professional research scientist will read this and he will get funding and figure out a solution to a currently-solution-less disorder. I’m just joking, by the way, but read on if you’re interested.

So the disorder I’m referring to is known as “idiopathic hypersomnia”. Never heard of it? I don’t blame you. I’d never heard of it before I got technically “diagnosed” with it. The idea of this disorder is just a blanket term when they don’t know what’s making you sleepy, really. No, that’s exactly what the term exists for- the word “idiopathic” means of unknown origin, and “hypersomnia” is just a fancy word for super-sleepy. In simple terms, this disorder is “super sleepy for an unknown reason”. Could be anything- anemia, depression, chronic fatigue, etc. But, they can’t figure it out, so they diagnose this. It’s pretty rare, because there are so many other causes for sleepiness, and once they are all ruled out (or, one is misdiagnosed), you’re left with idiopathic hypersomnia.

Usually, idiopathic hypersonic is associated with narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is a sleep-wake disorder where your brain can’t regulate sleep cycles normally, causing you to wake up a lot during the night and potentially be so tired during the day that you fall asleep. The difference in the two is very blurred. They both have all of the same symptoms, except muscle weakness known as cataplexy is unique to narcolepsy, and narcoleptics usually fall into REM sleep immediately upon napping. Oh, by the way- the diagnostic ‘test’ for narcolepsy is a series of naps, and they measure how long it takes you to fall asleep… to see that you’re actually sleepy and you’re not faking it or misinterpreting it. You fall asleep on most of the 5 naps under 8 minutes, and enter REM in any of the naps, you get narcolepsy as the diagnosis. You fall asleep in the same amount of  naps in the same amount of time (aka, you’re just as sleepy), yet you don’t hit REM sleep in any naps, you’re diagnosed with IH.

So, as the word suggests, this disorder hasn’t been solved. ‘Idiopathic’ anything is just something that hasn’t been explained yet. Cause and effect. Everything has a cause or an origin.

Anyways, with that brief and probably confusing background, I’ll give my theory.

So as far as modern science understands, the daytime sleepiness seen in narcolepsy is caused by the brain losing it’s ability to regulate sleep wake cycles, and this is most likely caused by the loss of wakefulness-promoting neurons in the brain (named hypocretins). If your brain doesn’t have the regulatory neurons to keep you awake during the day and to shift stages of sleep at night properly, then you won’t be sleeping well- and you’ll be sleep deprived no matter what. That’s in narcolepsy.

I’ve heard from many doctors and people online that in IH (idiopathic hypersomnia), sleep at night looks relatively normal, unlike narcolepsy where it’s dysfunctional and fragmented. So I look over my results for the 1000th time- and notice one thing that stands out- the number of “sleep stage shifts”. That is the number of times your brain changes it’s brainwave activity, from high frequency in light NREM sleep, to low frequency in delta wave deep sleep. I’ve looked up various personal accounts of sleep studies, read a few published research articles, and read personal responses online, and discovered that your brain is supposed to only shift between stages 7-10 times per hour. That way, it can stay in a stage, get it’s benefits, and maintain your sleep.

My number of sleep stage shifts? 200. Yep. I slept around 8 hours that night, so that equates to about 25 shifts an hour. My sleep was not at all staying in a certain stage; it was constantly jumping up and down and never having any continuity.

There are reports online that make the plea that doctors should pay attention to this, but when going over a sleep study, they don’t pay attention to how many times your brain switches stages, only the technical “awakenings” you had. Being in stage 1 sleep, I’ve learned, is not refreshing and you essentially feel awake. 105 of my sleep stage shifts were back to stage 1. That is enough to make even the longest night of sleep feel un-refreshing. So is this idiopathic, or did I just figure something for myself?

Don’t take my word for it, read an actual scientific study performed, a study that highlights exactly what I’m talking about, and concludes that “number of sleep stage shifts in a night can impact daytime sleepiness”- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2982738/

What I’m rambling about, is that maybe the cause of idiopathic hypersomnia is this. The brain’s inability to stay in certain stages of sleep continually. If it is the cause, that’s something worth looking into. I have no power here, however, I’m just a 20 year old who is blogging it. But that would be something, if this theory became a scientifically backed up cause. It’s a long shot, but I wanted to write, and this is what I’ve been honestly thinking about.

Thanks for reading

Luca DeJesu, 4:19 PM

Complacency

I just shaved. I don’t know why, but whenever I shave I feel ‘new’ and motivated. I didn’t really need to shave tonight, but I did, because it’s like a little burst of motivation. Is shaving a drug?

So anyways, here I sit, clean shaven and all. Writing a post, its 1:39 am right now. I know it sounds really late, but for me, this is somewhat an early time of the night. I’ve gotten on this ‘3rd shift’ kind of sleeping schedule over the past ~ year or so, where I usually go to sleep around 4 am and wake up around 1 pm. It’s a bad schedule and a habit that I’ve tried to break numerous times, just haven’t tried hard enough, I guess. I’m gonna go to sleep soon, and starting shifting it back starting tonight.

How did I let my sleeping schedule misalign so bad in the first place? I mean, a year is a long time to leave something unfixed. Part of the problem is that it’s okay for me to sleep in- I still live at home, I have a school schedule that caters to the night owl, and my job utilizes me as an evening worker. So, there isn’t a whole lot of responsibility in the morning for me, so I don’t really have to be up then. That’s the way it’s been for the past 2 years now.

The other part of the problem? Complacency. 

Becoming complacent. Being complacent. The thing I always say I want to avoid. I never want to fall into a zone of complacency, a one where my life is essentially ‘what it is’, and I’m not really looking to move the needle at all. I guess that’s standard, to want to be improving, or at least changing. Sure, not everyone actually does constantly improve, yet if you ask anyone, they’d almost all say that it’s their goal. To steadily become better everyday, to move forward and make life better each step.

In a lot of ways, when I look back realistically on me in the past few years (since starting community college), I’ve really become sedentary in a lot of the aspects of my life. I stopped worrying about working out, improving my jump shot in basketball, setting personal goals, and even my morality.

I’m not a saint, far from it, but there was a time in high school where I took morals a bit more seriously. The virtues of self control, willpower, the idea of stoicism, building confidence- they’ve gone missing in my life. I still am a nice person and that’s one thing I’m proud of, I’ve never let the main moral of “treat your neighbor as yourself” slip away from me. That’s the most important one to me. That one above all else. But, I no longer find myself practicing the same standards I did for a while. I used to be much better at being health conscious in my diet. I used to force myself to find motivation in tough spots. It’s like these goals that I would work towards, in order to practice to just be a better person overall, those have silently gone missing.

It’s not that I don’t care, because I do, but it’s that I’ve gotten comfortable. Being comfortable can lead to this idea of complacency. You don’t feel that need anymore, that you once did, because ‘everything’s fine, maan’. It’s not until something happens that kind of ‘wakes you up’, that you realize change is needed. When life isn’t throwing you that message, it can be hard to receive it. How do you receive it, anyway? I find that writing this out, for one, makes me realize what nothing else is telling me: I’ve gotta make some changes for myself and for those around me.

I’m sounding super general, I know, but it’s just because, well, in general I need to change some stuff. I don’t want a new school or a new friend to be that thing that ‘shifts me into gear’ all of the time. It’s not a pride thing, it’s just that I believe I need to invent my own gear shift. I feel like everyone should have the ability to find fault in themselves and seek out a solution. In saying that, I hope I’ll practice what I’m preaching.

A customer came into Starbucks a few days ago. He points to a bagel and asks “Is this the sprouted grain vegan bagel?” 

“Yeah, I think. It replaced the multigrain bagel”, I say, with a slight bit of doubt. I didn’t realize we had a ‘vegan bagel’, I thought it was just another bagel.

“Is it vegan? I didn’t even know that! Are you yourself a vegan?”

Yeah man, I’ve been trying to switch to veganism. It’s hard, I’m only on week five, but I’m hoping I can keep it. I’m feeling more ‘chipper’ already since I started watching my diet”.

Five weeks? On a vegan diet? To me, that seemed impossible. It’s not impossible, obviously, but man, I just realized how far off I’d be from having the same sense of willpower as this dude has. He’s kept this incredibly restrictive diet up for 5 weeks straight and is rolling on, meanwhile I had some southwest chicken microwavable taquitos with a soda late last night. I give this guy props. I could learn a thing or two about self determination from him.

With that, I’m gonna wrap this one up. We all need self determination, or the ability to produce it. I don’t have it, but I hope I’ll stop being a lazy fuck and actually fix that. Maybe by the end of summer, I’ll be awake in the morning, hitting the gym in the afternoon again, and mentally overpowering that urge to get some Jack in the Box tacos.

Thanks for reading

Luca DeJesu, 2:08 AM

The Key

What do you value most in your life? Really though, have you ever thought of that? What do you personally put most value in, what is your ultimate goal, what do you live for, etc etc.

I think I’ve mentioned this before on here, but to me, the ultimate goal and the key to everything is happiness. In my life, that’s what I put atop the totem pole. It’s what I aim for, it’s what I deem necessary, and it’s what I truly live for. It’s pretty simplistic, maybe I’m a simple kind of person.

Do you ever stop and think about this idea though- the idea that lots of other people don’t put happiness first? I’m not trying to say that just because I personally think happiness is the true goal in life, that everyone else should feel the same. Maybe other people already have happiness and don’t need to prioritize it. Maintaining happiness, as a constant, 24/7 thing, is impossible. It just is- you’ll have days where it seems to disappear, and on the contrary you’ll have weeks where you feel euphoric. But, it fluctuates, and I’ll make my case for why happiness is what you should aim for every day. Not money, not social status, or whatever else you could think of.

Skip back to what I said earlier:

“It’s what I aim for, it’s what I deem necessary-“

Wow. Quoting my own words felt incredibly douchey. It’s for style, ok?

Anyways, notice how I claimed that happiness is a necessity, amidst that sentence of explaining why I value it? It’s kind of a strange way to put it, isn’t it? It sounds like I’m saying that you need to be happy, and in a sense, I am.

Obviously, it’s okay to not be okay. It’s alright if you’re dealing with depression, you’re having a down day, or you just aren’t feeling it. That’s totally normal and I’m not at all saying that it shouldn’t exist, because the fact of the matter is that no matter what, it will always exist, in some shape or form. What I mean, though, is that in order for you to live your best life and do what you are capable of doing, you need happiness. 

It’s a baseline. A key ingredient. 

Last night I came across this realization: you don’t hear about people in the news who aren’t happy. If you do, it’s because their career is slumping- maybe the actor has been out of the spotlight for a few years, a musician hasn’t released an EP in a couple years, or the director hasn’t got on the set seriously in a while. It’s more or less a fact, I’m starting to understand, that when you’re happy, you’re doing your best work.

I came across this realization last night watching a music video with my sister. She was showing me a new band I hadn’t really heard of before, Diiv. The band is an indie/alt-rock sort of group, and she figured I’d like them. Well, I did, but one of the first things I noticed is that the lead singer, Zachary Cole Smith, looks a bit like Kurt Cobain. I really like Cobain, and so does my sister, so I mention it to her- “He kinda looks like a younger Kurt Cobain”. She nods in agreement- “Yeah, and he’s also addicted to heroin like Kurt was. He’s gotta get off it. Look at him in this video, he’s clearly on the stuff”. 

Man, that’s some serious stuff, heroin. Goes without saying. And this guy, is at risk of losing his career because he can’t stay off it- he’s been arrested multiple times in possession of it, and as of now he’s in inpatient treatment to try and break his addiction. Good for him. His band has a lot of potential and, well, heroin isn’t going to get that band where they want to be.

Then, I had a crude thought. In all these studio recording videos, it was pretty clear that Smith was on his drug of choice- his eyes dilated, his face calm, and his gestures a bit slowed. Wouldn’t being drugged out mess up his playing?” I ask, sounding like a 5 year old. My sister tells me that he seems to play better on it, and I can’t dispute it. He is passionate in these videos, stringing together melodies with his brother and the rest of their band like it’s nothing. He really loves what he’s doing!-or, is it the heroin?

Seriously. Why do people usually get addicted to drugs anyway? To me, most cases must be because they’re fed up with their reality and are tired of fighting, in a sense they take an alternative path. Some people say it’s the “easy way out”, but I’m not gonna say that because you can never know how bad someone is struggling if they resort to something as infamous as heroin.  And, much like the man who I compared him to, Kurt Cobain, Smith has a history of depression, it turns out. No surprise there.

I don’t judge people who are addicted to drugs as much because of this. I give them the benefit of the doubt, as we should as they’re all people just like us relatively sober people. I obviously want people with addictions to get off them, because they’re flat out life threatening, and there is other help available.

But, back to the point I’ve been trying to make- Diiv may not be heard of if it weren’t for Smith artificially manufacturing his happiness. It’s something to think about. Heroin is horrible and he should’ve never turned to it, but he likely did it to escape depression. And, when he did, he found happiness, and he found his art. He made it big, and I don’t doubt it’s because he was happy.

In less severe cases, we see people on television who appear happy all the time. Think about Jim Carrey. As a kid, I thought he couldn’t frown. He was always having fun, making jokes, and seemed to not even know what the feeling of sadness was. As I grow older, I find he has a history of manic depression that runs in his family, and that comedy has always been his scapegoat. It’s great, that he could find happiness in the comedy genre, because that vaunted happiness made him a legendary career. Would Jim Carrey ever have been heard of if he chose politics? Well, if he were happy doing it, maybe. You won’t being doing your best work until you’re happy doing it, and that translates. People feed on it, and you sort of become one with what you do.

Personally, I know it to be true. I can’t create if I’m depressed. Whenever I’d have a spell of sadness, I usually don’t do what I want. Then, that day where the sadness would cease to exist, I’d come up with a bunch of ideas for a painting or video.

That’s why I put happiness in the number one spot on the life goals list. It’s always important. Even when I have it, I’m trying to keep it as long as I can. I’m trying to manufacture it in the hardest of places. The reason I do that, is because I know it’s vital. Happiness first, the rest will figure itself out.

Thanks for reading

Luca DeJesu, 6:35 PM