For the longest time, I had breakdowns now and then. I would follow a plan, exercise, and be productive, until the eventual breakdown, which would pull me to a vicious circle.
Over the years I observed that the trigger for a breakdown was always something to do with failing at something (“everything”) prior to it, and losing hope since I wasn’t even good enough for that one thing. This would then inhibit any further actions, and I would subsequently fall to a self-reinforcing vicious circle where I’d stop exercising, meditation, and all other habits.
One day I was talking with a friend, who suggested I make 5-year plans for the various things I wanted, to circumvent the occasional habit breakdowns. After all, there IS a greater plan, just keep following it. Reflexively, I thought of all the ways that couldn’t possibly work but I saw that it was a sound method, even to bypass my failings.
But should I do that? Aren’t my feelings telling me it’s time to quit the game altogether, for not being good enough? But why, why must I be good enough? A flash of nothingness. That’s funny. Didn’t I have a reason for thinking that, feeling that? No, there is no reason. A relief, unburdening. I don’t have to be good enough. I don’t have to be good enough!
Why did I ever think that? Thinking back, I think the problem first manifested at University. I didn’t know how to socialize effectively. I didn’t spend my time well. I didn’t get an academic reference. I could have gone to do a PhD in another world. A cascading failure led to depression, depression led to bad work, late thesis, a dropped degree grade level. My entire world in shambles. My whole plan, my only plan in the entire world, was to do research, go to academia, do a PhD, and never care about the industry, jobs, career, etc. Just work on AI.
But I had just failed that. Of all the things in the world, what did I have left? Even with my primary strength and skill in computer science, programming, etc., I still wasn’t good enough. I was not good enough to justify my own existence. For what is the point of existing if I can only be mediocre, at most, at everything?
And I so I thought. I had a grand plan, but that plan would require succeeding, being good. Without that, there was nothing.
But here I must remind myself again: I don’t need to be good enough. I don’t need to base my existence on my skills. I don’t need to.