Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Well, the new year is upon us. Time to begin another decade. I swear it was yesterday that we were all preparing for life to end with the Y2K scare. Sometimes I forget and think it's still the 90s... I can't believe I've had ten years to get over that and yet I still think of the 90s as being "now". 2010 sounds like the future. I mean, technically it still is for another 30 hours or so, but 2010 sounds like robot servants, flying cars, living in space kind of future. In summary of paragraph number one, this really weirds me out.

So now's the time when everyone sits down and decides this new year will bring changes and better things for them. They make promises to themselves, set goals to achieve, and feel a new sense of hope and positivity. My question is, why now? I get the symbolism and all, sure. New year, clean slate... new beginnings. What a tantalizing possibility! But really, the change from December 31st to January 1st is no different than any other 24 hour difference throughout the year. I was thinking about this whole "why now" and the purpose of resolutions and I kept going back to two highly contradictory thoughts on the matter, one extremely pessimistic and the other highly optimistic. I'm convinced that I firmly believe them both. Let's call this blog a journey into Trisha's pessimistic and optimistic revelations. And go!

Part I: Pessimism
New Year's resolutions are usually made with the highest intentions of following them through, only to be forgotten in the rush of everyday life. Then when the next December 31st rolls around and you go into your moments of self-reflection for the year you just get depressed that these goals were never followed through. So what do you do? Make it your resolution for the next year. Why do we do it? Face it, on New Years Eve (after one too many celebratory beverages) deciding to lose that extra 15 pounds may sound like a great idea. Let's start toward that goal by downing another beer! You may wake up the next morning still so enthused by the idea that you start thinking about diet and exercise plans, already envisioning yourself in the cute new clothes you're going to buy. But somewhere down the road you struggle. Maybe just a little bit. But enough to discourage you. Before you know it, your goal is lost, either ignored by you purposefully so you're not riddled with daily guilt, or you continue to make some efforts throughout the year but decide all in all it probably won't work out and you let yourself go, generally push it aside, figuring "it'll happen some day". We set ourselves up for failure and feelings of inadequacy, incompetency. The weight loss thing is just an example, but it's got to be one of the most common goals. I swear, everyone has the same 10 resolutions. In general, resolutions can all be classified in one of two ways: it's always losing a negative: quitting/dropping/cutting something (smoking/weight/spending or some other personal vice) and/or adding a positive: doing/finding/enjoying something (volunteering/new hobby/more family time)... something specific to help you live a happier, healthier, more fulfilled life. Problem with these goals is that they're not necessarily measurable and therefore not as easily achieved. (Touch of optimism and hope coming up...) You need something where you can develop specific, relevant, mini-goals along the way. Mini-goals that serve as a constant reminder throughout the year and a whole lot of commitment is your best bet. Even then though, not always gonna happen. (Fully back to pessimism...) Let's face it, 88 to 97% of New Years resolution-ers fail in their attempts. (Confession: I typed revoltuion-ers first instead of resolution-ers. Join the revolution and make a resolution! .... sorry) Anyways, that 88 to 97% failure thing? Known fact. Believe me, I research my statistics. And yet the majority of the U.S. looks at each new year and says I'm going to make this the best year of my life. Things will be different! ... Probably not.

Part II: Optimism
Well I'll be honest... I did have one clear pessimistic view and one clear optimistic view on the matter, but as I wrote the pessimistic section the optimistic view kind of died in me. I'll see if I can revive it here. (Another "I'll be honest" comment, I originally labeled this section "Optimistism" and I over-looked my error after several read-backs. Caught it eventually though. Obviously.) Here comes my attempt at optimism. I find it kind of sad that most people only take this one time each year to set goals for themselves. Shouldn't we be on a constant journey of finding a better, happier, healthier life for ourselves? Why wait until the beginning of a new year to decide it's time to change? If you're not happy about something, change it now! I'm constantly looking for ways to make my life happier and to become a better person. In 2009 I made a couple of big moves in an attempt to be happier. (Realized during my 2009 reflection period) And you know what, it made me join the crowd of people I criticized in the pessimistic section.... I think 2010 will be a great year for me! I don't think it will be a great year because of all the new, great goals I have for 2010 that I hope to achieve; I think it will be a great year because of the changes made in 2009 that have set me up for a happier future. I don't set specific goals regularly. (Touch of pessimism, devoid of hope coming up...) I really do think set goals, more often than not, just lead to failure. But it doesn't mean I'm not hopeful. If I desire a change and I see the opportunity, I listen to my instinct and make it happen. (Don't worry, back to optimism...) Best part about this way of thinking? Without set goals, you can't fail. There are no deadlines you have to worry about not making. You live life as it comes and take opportunities as they come. It's a way to seek out happiness and avoid stress. If it's something you really want in your life and you're committed to the change, you will make it happen whether you define it as a goal or not.

Now with all this back and forth-ness I think I've confused myself on what I really believe. First it was equally both thoughts... then entirely pessimistic and now that I've finished the optimism section I'm feeling oddly light-hearted and joyful on the matter. Why not... let's go out with some optimism! Every year is a new beginning yes, but so is everyday. You only live once. Don't wait a year to attempt a change you can begin today.

God, I'm so cliche.

Friday, December 18, 2009

You know how if you're reading a book you start to develop an image of the characters in your mind? Similarly, you know how if you talk to someone a lot over the phone, but you've never met them you also end up creating an image in your head of what they look like? (I'm thinking like a work contact rather than some strange "phone pen-pal" type of scenario. Hmm... phone pen pal... a situation where there's no pen involved... a pen is the instrument used to write a letter to a pen pal and in this case it's your voice that's the instrument to convey a message to this not-known-in-person friend... would it be called a voice pal? Anyways... pointless tangent, I know. It's how my mind works.) So, as I was saying, you create these images in your head of what these characters or people "should" look like. Usually it's completely unintentional... it's just the imagination at work, giving you an image to associate with these people- whether they're fictitious or actual living humans. So you have these pre-conceived images and then what happens? A movie comes out and suddenly the characters don't look like you envisioned them. Or you meet the mystery phone person and are can't help but think "that's not who I've been talking to. Who I've been talking to looks nothing like that" because you can't get the previous image of "what they look like" out of your head.

It takes awhile for me for the character (read, not-real-human) thing to latch on and for the actor playing the part to become the main image I associate with the character, rather than what I came up with in my head beforehand. Like Harry Potter was still a cartoon image in my head (an image, I'll admit, that was initially aided by the illustrations on the front covers and beginnings of each chapter in the books) until book 5 when while I was reading I realized I was imaging Daniel Radcliffe instead. (Side note... at first I wrote that as Danielle Radcliffe and I had to stare at it for a solid 3 minutes before I realized why it looked wrong. End side note.) And, I had just gotten used to the image of Dumbledore being the actor from the first two movies when the new actor stepped in (for legitimate reasons) and my mind's image of the character was completely confused. I have those moments when I see a movie version of a book and just think the actor is completely wrong compared to what I imagined. For example, Confessions of a Shopaholic. I've always loved the book series. I had created an image of the character from reading the books. I even used to imagine to myself, if it were to become a movie, who should play Rebecca Bloomwood (later Brandon). Shortly after picking the ideal actress I began to only envision Kristin Davis (of Sex and the City) whenever I was reading, instead of the original image I had of the funny woman obsessed with shopping. When the movie DID come out I struggled so much with the fact that it was a redhead, first of all, then with the fact that it was not Kristin Davis. I couldn't get into it. Then there's the reverse type of scenario where I see a movie first and then read the books... so the image of the characters is already in my head as being the set of actors. In this case I can't help but wonder what my mind would have created for the characters if I had no set image in my head already of what they look like from the movies. Prime case of this for me is Lord of the Rings. I'm reading the books now for the first time and while I hadn't seen the movies beforehand, they were a big enough hit when they came out that I had already developed images of the characters from previews and promotions and such. So when I began reading Frodo automatically became Elijah Wood. I think it's funny the process our minds go through in re-creating image associations. For me it takes awhile for things to switch over from what I originally imagined to what is shown to me as "the actual character", aka the actor representing the character. Is it kind of related to the old question of how many times it takes to meet someone before an initial reaction can be changed? ... Except in this case it's how many exposures to or how much time it takes before an initial image associated with a character can change to what's being presented to you.... I guess it's not really related at all, but I thought they might be some type of similarity to draw there. Just ignore me.

So it's all fine with the land of make believe and re-imagining characters. But when it comes to real people I guess I thought it would be different. In reality, it's much harder for me to switch over these images when they pertain to real people when I would think it should be easier. For example, at my job there are several people I work with over the phone on a regular basis. I'm talking I've heard their voice daily for the past year and a half. I have developed images of each of these people. I don't purposefully create an image... it just happens. Sometimes, I eventually meet some of them. If they don't look like what I have envisioned (and come on, what's the likelihood that my imagination is that good? If they look like what I've envisioned I would start calling myself clairvoyant) and... what was I saying? Oh, right. So, if they don't look like what I have envisioned I am, well... I'm not completely thrown off, because I never really expected them to look like I had pictured, but I have a hard time after the initial meeting re-creating my image of what they look like. Lots of times, when I picture them afterward I still picture my old image rather than what they actually look like. I would think that once I've met the real person the old image, that was really based off of nothing but voice and perceptions on personality, would disappear and be replaced by what they actually look like. But no! Of course, the more often I see the actual person the more likely the image is to be replaced. But, for example... there's a couple of people I work with regularly over the phone and since I began at this job almost two years ago I've met them in person twice now... each time a year apart. The second time I met them it hit me that even though I had seen them before, for the past year I was still picturing them the way my mind initially did... I was picturing these "characters" of what they "should look like" and they weren't replaced yet by the images of what they actually looked like. As I result I was slightly awkward during the second, year later encounter, as I tried to subtly yet intently study their features so their faces would be ingrained in my mind and hopefully overtake what my imagination decided these people look like.

Another similar type of scenario is when you see pictures of someone before you meet them... in this case I don't have a hard time "re-adjusting" my images of people, but I'm completely thrown off by it if they don't look like their pictures or they don't act like how I thought they would based on their pictures. I've talked to some people online before meeting them and more often than not, gotten a general idea of what they look like from pictures (actually, it's more likely to be the case that I didn't talk to them before meeting them, I just "know what they look like" from pictures before meeting them... the wonders of facebook and some pre-encounter borderline-stalking... don't judge me, we all do it). So even though the pictures are, obviously, pictures of these people, you don't ever really have a clear image of what someone looks like until you meet them face to face. But I see these pictures and get an image in my head of what they look like. Then when I meet them I'm slightly thrown off if they don't look JUST like they did in their picture. Something seems off. It bothers me. This is arguably one of my most random blogs, and I'm pretty random. I also feel as though I just rambled on about nothing for the past x amount of words. Probably reads that way too. It's okay, I'll still click "publish post" and let the rest of you read it.