[Applied Self-Confidence] Two-Year Anniversary

“Have you noticed any changes with me over the last two years?” “I’m not sure. I don’t have a very good memory about that sort of thing.[1,2]” It’s been two years since I started Better Zombie. Then, I inconsequentially wasted time and money for hedonistic reasons. Now, I constantly strive to better myself, my work, and my environment through each of my writings. I’m still hedonistic, sure, I just act with more purpose. Let’s time-travel:

The introductory essay, “Twenty-Five Cent Screwdrivers,” is transitory.

The most I’d written prior to this website was my attempt at writing a novel, References, and being a staff writer at A Nerd Occurrence. That was my frame of reference for how to write, the content to publish, and the overall direction I wanted to go at that time. I used to go thrifting frequently, so the materialistic overindulgence here made sense, though now I wouldn’t be likely to brag about things like this.

The next few essays had the point of diversification.

I was definitely inspired by ANO here because the diversity of a concert review, PAX hype piece, yard sale, and movie review were great introductory essays preventing me from falling into a one-topic rut, though it’d take time to get out of the general nerdy trappings that I’d started with here. I’d almost hazard to say that I didn’t know I could expand out more at this time, so I just wrote what I knew.

PAX and a float tank session guided my future.

During this point, I’d already committed myself to a major life change through changing from long-term employment to transitory work, so it was with these two shots in the dark that, in hindsight, helped significantly. I still reference these two essays, linked above, as guiding posts along this journey I’ve taken and I’m rather proud of them. The PAX one for giving it my best go, and the float tank one as an uncompromising exploration.

More inconsequential practice reviews. What’s nice about writing reviews is that they’re such a rigidly-defined genre of writing already that you either succeed or fail. If the review presents a convincing argument, you succeed. These were fun on the surface, but even then, I knew they weren’t quite my thing. I’m not passionate about winning people over to a side in general, so I’m more apt for commentaries. Reviews are an excuse to go out.

Now here’s an interesting shift in direction.

I’d fully realized right here that I wanted to write “The Story.” This first update essay has led me on a path that we’re still seeing today, writing singular-topic conceptual pieces, when maybe as I’d experimented with in future essays, it might be more comfortable to write about what I’d thought about related to “The Story” over the past few days. I might try that, actually, since we should never follow our own past’s dogmas.

More reviews, including a “best albums of” review I spent too much time on…

The Day Map was a fun exercise I’ve still considered working on again, where I realized some key things about where I want to progress my writings, but it took a while before I actually began that with the Grime/Glitter essay category, inspired by some high school writings I called f/duck. I still haven’t recovered those essays, but once I do, it’ll be interesting to read through them and comment on their successes or failures.

The Ten-Day Combo note has some hidden depth.

By this point, I’d dedicated myself to writing daily. It was just hard to do this with such a long commute and writing just at my computer in the mornings or evenings [here written after 8PM]. I actually burned out perhaps because of this change in direction, but it wasn’t a good commute or gig, and it’s since worked out. Now that I write on my smartphone, anywhere, I’m not as chained to my computer.

I’m going to blast through the next batch of essays.

I started writing daily and took time off here to assess my life. I began rowing, addressed some lingering issues, and reapproached thrifting. This was a trying period for me, but I’ve found consistently that these periods of adversity and challenge help me develop the most as a writer and a person. They’re not good for extended periods of time. Just like physical exercise, except, for the mind. I also finally finished my PAX essays.

More fast-forwarding, since the next batch was more writing practices.

By this point, I’d written 100 essays, and started to taste the sweet nectar through the sting of hard work. It was becoming more of a ritual I’d do daily than some flight of fancy I’d do for a moment or a day before giving up on. Between that, figuring out how to overcome my own writer’s block, and writing my first short story in years, I was making significant progress here toward a brighter future.

It’s cool how things started solidifying last year.

I started being more ambitious with my writing at around this point, particularly with my essays on identifying interest and disinterest within body language, using my lightbox to visually tell my written arguments. Two highlights of this point are a float tank essay summarizing what I like about floating, mentally, and a short story that though cliche in almost every regard still feels so good to have written. Dystopian zombie tales are a guilty pleasure.

Oh, but then there’s the start of the Sammohini Arc.

That short story happened when, at 6:30AM, and I realized I hadn’t published anything for my 7AM deadline! I used that as the basis for a story. Jane was a random character name I’d used before, but Sam was just a filler name. The time in that short story was written in real-time. That pressure cooker situation gave me plenty of inspiration, and funnily, provided the character archetypes of anxious Sammohini and calm Jane.

By this point, I was running ragged.

I was being too ambitious with high-concept short stories and my writing was still primarily at my computer at home. Contrasting with now, where I could write on my smartphone on my lunch break and not even turn on my computer, then I’d have to crank out something daily and publish it. Yesterday, I wrote 1564 words, but those just contribute to three separate essays. They, including this essay here, still need polish and more words.

I guess I said that because that batch of writings wasn’t my proudest…

Which is funny to say because as I’m looking back, I can see the progress, but at the time, I was doing the absolute best I could. That past-judgemental mindset is easy to get into, especially if, like what happened here, I woke up tired and started diving into work, rather than warm up with something more positive. After all, physically, I was only rowing 50-row sets, rather than my average of 5 minutes, or 150-200 rows.

“Have you noticed any differences in my personality over the last two years?”

It was at around the [forgotten] 1-year anniversary that things shifted into the direction they’re in now so I’ll focus less on the details in this year’s retrospective. The main highlight was that I started writing fiction more often. It was nearly impossible for me at first. I’d dread the work, almost, and I’d agonize over building extensive worlds. This effort served well in “An Insurmountable Odd,” perhaps a prequel to the founding of Eville in “The Story,” although it was rough from the perspective of working full time and writing nearly full time as well.

I’m in the same boat, having learned some of the lessons from last year.

I haven’t published as much this week as I have in previous weeks, or compared to last year’s output, but I’ve still been writing at the same pace as I have since January, or probably even faster. It’s just all, essentially, first draft writings, rather than publishable words. Even if the only difference in some cases might be just tightening up a sentence or paragraph. And just like last year, I keep repeating the same themes of working hard, self-improvement, and self-betterment, so let’s take a different perspective on this:

Two years ago, I had a small business.

I had become sick of being bullied by management at work, after years of just taking it and learning to like it. I’ve since worked with some great managers and have interacted with many great leaders in their respective departments. It’s just, on that fateful August 12th of 2016, something deep inside me yearned not just for being independent of being managed like that, but independent of that. That life of taking a lot of mental abuse for not a lot of reward, yet being around arrogant assholes that looked down on others because they didn’t understand specific esoteria.

Two years on, I’m still fighting that battle.

It’s interesting looking over my photo reel from that time. Everything prior to August 12th for a short while had been purely technical materials related to my business. There was an almost entirely complete shift in focus after that where – other than receiving some business cards I’d printed prior to making Better Zombie – I abruptly stopped photographing and researching technical materials. I remember what happened, too: I initially felt guilty about shifting my focus, then I accepted it, and dropped the business almost immediately.

I didn’t break even on that business venture.

The money I earned was thoroughly documented, for fear of the auditors that never knocked, and the tools I bought superfluously might still have some use in future troubleshooting work, but I maybe came up $100 short of my money investment. The time investment is really where that adventure set into motion Better Zombie. Months prior to starting that business, I had no motivation to do much of anything in terms of self-improvement. I was just a hedonistic glutton for wage-slave punishment. To endure work meant enjoying time and money to do things.

If I were to say so, the past two years have changed that.

I might still be lazy or wasteful on nearly a daily basis, but those instances are far fewer now. I haven’t been to a thrift store in… months. Though thrifting was an important part of my early sobriety to get me out of my living environment ruts, it can also be a huge waste of time and money. I still get moments of deep inner depression, but rather than let them linger and cause me suffering, I can channel those moments into poignant essays and short stories in ways that can help me through into brighter thinking. I may not get as much sleep now, but that time rather than being squandered on superfluous activities is spent working toward actualizing my dreams.

That might be why it’s hard for friends to notice any difference.

It’s easy to notice big changes to the careers of others, and perhaps somewhat easy to notice changes in hairstyle or dressing, otherwise it’s difficult to notice subtle changes in the motivations or actions of others, even in close proximity. If I didn’t write constantly about my goals, motivations, and dreams, how apparent would they be to readers or even myself? Most of why I write that sort of thing is to eventually start inspiring others to do the same – and they might be inspired once I actually achieve what I’ve set out to achieve.

Unless, of course, it takes 20 more years.

The thing about this website and this life I lead is that my current biggest goal isn’t short-term success or wealth. I earn enough to live comfortably. I just need the time to focus on my goal of writing “The Story,” which, even if it doesn’t earn me a dime [still haven’t earned a penny from this website] will still be successful when it is complete.

Because the story that needs to be told will be told.

Quotes: [1,2] Me asking Collector, my casual editor, about myself. [3,4] Me asking IDKFA. I’ll be asking others, but due to time constraints and to make sure I don’t get bogged down by working on this essay over starting or completing other essays, I may only publish the answers if they’re interesting enough.
Sources: My writing experiences.
Inspirations: Seeing my two-year anniversary calendar reminder approach, and having never done a complete review of my content like this, I wanted to give it a go. 833 words in, it’s fun. 329 words in, I must stick with it… I decided to conclude with an even 2000 words, minus this overly long endtable.
Related: I didn’t have a 1-year retrospective. Most of the Applied Self-Confidence essays are self-referential if that’s the relation you’re seeking.
Photos: A troubleshooting project I’d been working on the day I started Better Zombie. I don’t have any notes on why I chose the name, exactly, but Zombiepaper.com was taken, and I wanted to have the word zombie in the name. It’s led to me overcoming shyness. Potential tagline: “I don’t think Zombie offends people, it’s Better.”
Written On: July 30th [833 words], 31th [329 words], August 4th [838 words]
Last Edited: August 4th [0 minutes]

My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.