I’ve spend a lot of time today thinking about depression, self-confidence, and success today. I’ve talked to a couple very kind people who let me talk very animatedly for a long time about things that I think are important. And I thank all of those people for listening. I have some crazy stuff hanging over my head right now, and I’m actually kind of okay with it. I know that I put a lot of it there.

Let’s go back a couple years. One of my coworkers, who I had known for a while, but not really enough to know on a personal level, died very suddenly. Not much older than me, actually. It affected me. Here was this person, who I had talked with, laughed with, and ultimately knew very little about, who just, died. That day, I went up to the little fitness room we have at work and I ran for, like, ten minutes. I felt strangely alive.

Once a week, I would go up to the fitness room and run again, looking for that feeling I had that day I got the new, and I realized that whatever shot of energy I had, whatever sudden desire I had to feel alive, was something that wasn’t a constant — it was something I had little control over, but when I found it, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it. It took me until the end of the year to realize I wanted to get in shape.

I had to invent a routine. The exercises I did changed over time, as my needs changed, or I realized that some things hurt in a bad way. About the same time, I started writing regularly, because I’d just botched a goal of mine — to finish the 50,000 word goal of National Novel Writing Month. Somehow, the two concepts met in my mind — regular exercise of the body, and regular exercise of the writing muscles.

I decided I was going to start filling a notebook a month with writing. The first one took me a month and a half, but each subsequent one was easier, and it only got easier. That May, two years ago, I filled two full notebooks (80,000+ words). I slowed down after that, but I knew if I could produce that much writing by hand, I could type it for NaNoWriMo — at that point I had no confidence in my transcribing ability.

I have been writing every day for over two years. Sure, I missed a day here and there, sometimes I went a whole week without writing, but I’m sorry, that doesn’t mean anything. I set a goal for myself that I have regularly and consistently met for well over two years. That goes beyond accomplishing my goal — I owned my goal. And I continue to do it, every day. Every day of the last two years is a success story.

Not just that, but it’s a success story that keeps getting better. Because I was doing so well after the first month and a half, I decided I wanted to do the webcomic I’d always wanted to do. I realized I was developing the skills I would need to do it. And then, in a moment of wisdom, I realized that I didn’t really have what I needed yet, and that I’d set a goal for myself to start my webcomic in a year.

A little over a year ago, I started my webcomic, Rumors of War. My journal-writing was a little shaky right at the start, but I got back into the habit after a time because I realized I needed it. I’d developed a writing dependency. I had a good habit. If I go too long without writing, I go nuts. I get irritable. It’s awesome. If I were ever to recommend an addiction to someone, I’d have to go with writing. Make it yours today! *twinkle*

I realized that in the midst of building up a pile of successes, my bouts of depression were harder to sustain. I could look at what I’d done … “Hey, look! I have a stack of notebooks of my writing. I’ve written more in a few months than some people write in their entire lives!” I like webcomics, so having my webcomic go online meant that I suddenly had success I could look at wherever I had Internet access. And I do!

I sometimes feel like this ego that I have is artificial. That I have false confidence in myself. But that isn’t true anymore. It isn’t false, because bloody well look what I’ve accomplished! I have done something, and I continue to do it to this day! This isn’t ancient history we’re talking about, this isn’t background on a character sheet, a footnote in my life, this is what I’m doing right now. Hell, I’m doing it right now!

I feel like I’ve been lied to for much of my life. I feel like I’ve been told that confidence is something you “gain,” it’s given to you, you acquire it. It’s a gift. It comes from someone or something beyond your control, and I feel that couldn’t be more wrong. That’s a sad, sad lie. Maybe not everyone feels that way, but I have to wonder when I see people who decide not to do anything in their life. You might know a couple.

Then again, you might not. They don’t get out much. You might get together and watch some TV, catch a movie, I don’t know. Not that there isn’t a time and place to relax, it’s just, this is making “relaxing” your career choice. It’s actually making relaxing into a kind of work. It takes hard work to be the kind of lazy I’m talking about. A Greek philosopher talked about laziness being just bad — the worst thing you could do.

Another dead Greek guy wrote about laziness being the ideal goal in life — but this was a different kind of laziness. This was a laziness that was about sharing and learning. It wasn’t the absence of activity, it was the absence of trying to survive until the end of the day. Because trying to survive in the ancient world was freaking hard and people you knew disappeared or died every freaking day.

This kind of lazy isn’t about the end of work. It’s about changing the nature of the work. It’s working to improve yourself, not just maintain your tenuous grasp on life. It’s about waking up every day and telling yourself “I’m going to be X” and then going out into the world and being X. My confidence feels artificial because I have to work on it, but now I believe that is the natural way of acquiring confidence. You work every day.

Being confident makes you confident. Being successful makes you successful. You have to make a lot of mistakes. You have to fail a thousand times before you can have one success. You have to pick a goal and stick to it, and maybe you change your goal a hundred times before you make it to the end. The point is to stick to it. The point is to have a goal. The point is to be alive. The point is to work.

Working is living and living is working. Work every day to be the person you want to be, and check yourself. Stop and ask, “Am I who I want to be?” and answer with “Good, carry on then,” or “Why not?” Everything you do takes a muscle, whether we’re talking about your arms, your legs, your head, or your heart. Crawl before you walk, unless you’re crazy and just jump right into walking like me (true story).

Whatever you do, do it with passion. Work with passion. Live with passion. If you can’t fake it ’til you make it. Open your eyes. See the world. Listen to it. Love it. You’ll find that if you do it long enough, you’ll start doing it on accident. It might seem fake for a while, but you’ve given yourself a good habit. Love, live, laugh. Talk, work, play. Make a goal and follow it to the end. Then, don’t stop. Discover what’s beyond the goal.