Well, here we go again. A year has passed, and yet again, we’re getting ready for Christmas and New Year. I’ll be one year older and none the wiser (okay, maybe a little wiser, something must have changed), but let’s continue with the tradition of stepping into an online confessional. I told you how it worked last year, so strap in – let’s round 2018 up before I head to a Christmas Eve’s dinner with
It feels like such an unbelievably long year – so much has happened in the public sphere, in the film world, and in my ordinary life, so when I remind myself of things that happened in, say, March, they feel thousands of light years away. But let’s try and take a look at some of them.
On the left: Instagram Top 9. (Why are these mostly selfies?!)
Did I quit social media, I hear you asking? First of all, who said I was gonna quit?! No, but honestly, I did change how I think of these platforms, and how I use them. I struggled with it, to tell you the truth. I managed to do a proper clean-up of the services I don’t use anymore (because keep the handles for future reference, and goddammit, I cringed hard sometimes), hiding old content and deleting accounts that I don’t find useful anymore. Facebook is only for calling my family and friends in Poland at this point. Twitter, my biggest love, and in part Instagram, have been very difficult to quit, but I tried to limit my use – the fact that Instagram implemented weekly stats really helped, I got into the habit of checking the Lifelog app that details your screen time, and I made an effort to reach for a film or a book instead of getting sucked in and spending four hours a day on social media.
The outcomes? Not participating in The Outrage of The Day or the newest episode of The Discourse: Let’s Drag Them or Mad Online: What Pointless Thing Are We Arguing About Now Instead Of Doing Something About It definitely left me much less angry and much more present. Fewer extremes, much more healthy distance, that is. Recently, I’ve read Notes on the Nervous Planet by Matt Haig, New Dark Age by James Bridle and 10 Reasons to Delete Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier, who explain how these platforms exploit our basic instincts and behavioural knowledge for profit, destroying the world along the way. Especially Lanier delivers a great argument for deleting your accounts or limiting their use (given that they’re so deeply embedded in our society that not having to have the accounts is somewhat privileged). I’d definitely encourage everyone to read it to just get your own view on things – having read it, I definitely don’t think that technology is malevolent as much as I used to, but that it needs to use social sciences to fully grow for the benefit of humanity, and not against it.
Here’s an interview with the author of the book, if you want to get a taste of what he’s about.
Even if I resorted to limiting my use of social media, I still see its great possibilities as platforms for social change. But I look at it a little differently, too. Not weighing on things you might know little about, informing yourself and amplifying the voices of the vulnerable communities in question can be the best solution. It takes time to learn how to do
I promised myself that when I am on social media, it’s all about being there purposefully (so no scrolling for hours at a time). I also want to read more diverse perspectives (starting with film criticism), and share them with others, avoiding weighing in on things that somebody better equipped could do if there’s an opportunity to do so. And I intend to bring this with me into 2019.
One of the most important steps of this year is definitely getting professional help for issues with mental health that have been plaguing me for years. Although they’ve been manifesting for some time now and intensified after a mugging I’ve experienced a while ago, it’s been incredibly tough to address it due to previous bad experiences. I swept them under the carpet time and time again, but I needed to take action. I couldn’t sleep. Nothing made sense in my head. I was persistently terrified. I had to get myself absolutely hammered to even start functioning in bigger social settings (with various results; it could always make me more depressed, on the other hand) if I didn’t escape beforehand, and it was very difficult for me to vocalise it. My close family member was struggling with their health, repeatedly misdiagnosed, dragged through various procedures and finally given access to chemotherapy, and their behaviour once again exacerbated a complicated relationship we’ve always had – needless to say, I got a little crushed somewhere along the way. A series of events pushed me down the rabbit hole and got me stuck in a peculiar place, crippling my opportunities to become better. An example: during a film festival I attended, I had a massive panic attack on the tube en route to an interview with a film director I’d arranged weeks in advance, got off the tube, waited on the platform till my heart stopped pounding… and unsurprisingly, I blew it. Not the first time this year, there are many more instances of disappointing stuff I’ve done, and I regret it all deeply.
It turns out that talking about your mental state to real, actual humans in front of you is extremely tough, and believe me, it’s easier to change your mind, figure that you’ll take some random advice about “trying to be more grateful”, then bail when you’re waiting, or even when you’d addressed it and started. If you break a leg, you go to the doctor and describe the symptoms – my clouded brain had trouble even defining the limbo I was stuck in. But with lots of support, I made the first step. Recovery – proper recovery under professional supervision, without dropping any bits you find inconvenient or not for you, really or stigmatised to the point that you think they will bring you more shame than support – is in its infancy for me and definitely ain’t smooth sailing, but there are glimmers of improvement, and maybe there’s hope for getting back to “normal” me I so desperately yearn for. And if I learned anything, it’s to use any medium available to connect to others to talk when you reach the crisis point and become scared of your thoughts – and when you do that, you’ll get help from people, online and offline, who care about you even if you had no slightest idea about it. They WILL take you seriously, and they’re open-minded. They’ll understand, help you make sense of your head and encourage you to pick up that battle again. If Christmas miracles exist, mine is that my referral for therapy has been processed just in time to arrange it for the new year. And I know it won’t be easy, it’ll require effort and dedication, it’ll mean tackling the problems that dragged me into this hole in the first place, but I know it will be worth it. This year, I’m not escaping. I’m working on my coping skills, detangling from the past I loved to ruminate on, doing what’s best for me, taking responsibility and facing up to the fear – one step at a time.
I also want to get better with my money. Somehow out of the blue, I got myself into planning things with a bullet journal – unbelievable, I know!!! Me? Planning? Don’t you prefer chaos and apocalypse?! What the hell, Kwasniewska?! And yet.
Chaos is beneficial when you’re working on a creative project, but not appropriate everywhere and every time, and having a routine/a plan can be helpful. I definitely made progress this year (congratulations for adulting, dear 24-year-old, it’s high time you grew up!)
I’ve actually got a money diary thingy, have credit reports at the ready and try to be better with budgeting, but I’m sure I could tweak it a little more. Coming from absolutely no money and having an extremely weird financial position as a (fairly) recent graduate, I hate the idea of living off credit cards and thoughts of living off bank’s money/going into debt give me serious heart palpitations. What’s more, I know people who routinely do give me heart attacks when I look at their money management. I never knew that it could
frighten bother me so much, and talking with a friend made me realise that I’m not a pathologically risk-averse person (maybe a little, though…), I’m just trying to be responsible and get my shit together, and there’s nothing wrong about it. So I will get my shit together.
Next up: of course I want to continue learning! At the beginning of the year, I’ve completed a film distribution course, psychoanalytic theory in film, as well as Hispanic directors one. That gave me a few new things I can add to my reviews to shape a decent critical perspective and better understand what I’m watching. This year, I’ll also have another cool long-term opportunity to learn and I intend to make use of it fully.
I put writing articles and reviewing on hold for a little while, as I’ve told you – but it’s to get a clearer head and some much-needed balance, figure out what I want to be writing, how to use all of my skills, fill in the gaps in my knowledge and regain confidence – both in how I use English, and in my skillset. One of the bloggers I read inspired me by her open confession of treating her blog as a hobby and a creative outlet, and her thoughtful considerations really appealed to me. I’ve still got The Multi-Hyphen Method by Emma Gannon to read, which deals with a similar approach that takes some more pressure off you. Also, that novel I’ve finished isn’t gonna edit itself.
Even though I wasn’t very diligent when it comes to logging my films into Letterboxd, it clocked at over 250 this year in total – that’s over 20 per month, and almost half of them watched in the cinema! Many of them were 2018 releases, some of them were fine indie picks, and some of them belong to the lists like 1001 Movies You Need To See Before You Die – things I can find on Netflix, Amazon Prime or charity shop DVDs (RIP Filmstruck). Nothing compared to 600 films yearly that some people see, but I will not be comparing myself to other people, period. I have even watched two series from a beginning to an end, and I’m incredibly proud of my growing attention span (probably more than I should be). I’ve attended the London Film Festival in a professional capacity for the first time, and I had a chance to review quite a few films, which was definitely a highlight of the year (and a turning point in many ways). My Goodreads is 100% a mess, I consistently forgot to log things, and I totally failed at a challenge to read 50 books this year, but I’ve stopped at 34, which… isn’t as bad, I guess. I have also started listening to audiobooks and podcasts, which proved to be a
This year, I stopped travelling, and I plan to resume it next year. Even if it’s a trip to Cornwall or Edinburgh which I wanted to do for a while, I’ll make sure to get out more often. A few gigs, a few performances and theatre plays (one booked for next year already!), a few exhibitions – I want to do even more of that, and again, I need to ingrain in my head that I don’t need anybody’s permission, and I can do it alone if I want to. This year, I’ve often found myself discovering that I passed by other people going to the same film, gig or exhibition, and I know I’ll get better at not thinking that I’m gonna be a big embarrassment and interruption if I ask to join in.
There are many more sudden epiphanies and things that I’d like to start or continue. Figuring out
All of it, however, sums up in a single sentence.
Work on yourself, don’t give up, leave the past behind, do what’s best for you, make radical changes if you need to, and get better – one step at a time.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, Dear Reader.