31 December 2022
Regaining Passion - 2022 Retrospective
Content Warning - Discussion of mental health and other personal topics
It's getting to that time of year when I start gathering my thoughts to write a big message or yearly summary about how everything went
In 2020, I wrote a big Twitter thread celebrating the past decade, in 2021 I wrote a Twitlonger, and this year I'm writing it in my Neocities journal :) which I feel is what makes sense for me to do this time.
Usually, I find myself writing these on New Year's Eve, and posting them at really awkward times when they go by unnoticed by most people, but this time around, I'm starting to write this days before, because I'm uncertain of how much I'll write, but knowing myself, it's likely going to be a lot.
This year went by quite quickly, much like all the past years, to the point where it stopped surprising me.
It feels like these past years have been a stagnant journey of me attempting to recover from my trauma which has held me back and tainted so many things I once used to find enjoyable.
I guess it's why I titled this entry "Regaining Passion" because so many of the things that happened this year were exactly that. Either me finding new passions, or reclaiming things that my trauma had deemed too painful to come back to.
It wasn't all 100% positive all the time but I feel like I can safely claim that this was a year of recovery for me.
I met a lot of new people and made new friends this year, which did make me realize just how much I never really felt like I was part of most of my previous friend groups, I was sort of there and people did respond to me, but it's like I was sort of an extra I guess? I don't know, I get so absorbed in my own mind sometimes, but the friends I've made in the Deltarune fandom have made me so so happy this year and I am eternally grateful to be surrounded by so many kind and endlessly talented and creative people.
Particularly my friends in the Swatchton circle and also the folks in the OC side of the fandom (Mike fandom??? Fanmade chapter 3 fandom?? You know who you are xD), I cannot understate how much everyone's support has helped me regain the love for sharing and creating things. I never stopped drawing things I loved, particularly niche OC content, but this was the first year in a long time that allowed me to feel like I was seen, that my stories could have an effect on others, and that I could make characters that people enjoyed and wanted to know more about.
I guess I thought I knew what that was until I saw the way people reacted to my Deltarune content, especially when it came to my writing, I've been writing stories for so long and could never get anyone but a few friends to read them, it was so hard to perceive whether my work was good or not, if it was hitting the emotions I was going for, or if the things I wrote actually made sense and weren't just aimless word salads like so much of my writing tends to lean towards becoming.
I already enjoyed writing, but I think these past years, and especially this past one, I've grown so much more excited to work on stories and eagerly waiting to see people's reactions to my work. The fact that my Deltarune fics are still getting Kudos on Ao3 despite how long it's been since I've updated most of them just means so much to me.
Speaking of writing, I even somehow managed to get past my aversion to roleplaying with friends again. Although it's been a while since I've done it, for the longest time, roleplaying was a source of stress rather than a fun activity, and while I still feel that same stress poking back when doing it, the fact that I managed to reclaim it regardless was a huge step for me.
Neocities? Personal websites?
I really enjoy writing, I enjoy it so much. Early in the year, I found out about Neocities and quickly created this website back in February. I always had this interest in HTML due to so much of my childhood being spent browsing people's custom pages on Neopets, desperately editing PetPage templates to be like the other cool kids, that when I heard that Neocities was a thing and there was still an active community of people who made these personal and old fashioned websites, I became just so excited and enamoured with the whole concept.
To me, personal websites, at least from an artist's standpoint, always felt just so utterly isolated. A portfolio, maybe an About section, a page with contact information and social media. I'm not saying they're not effective, and I'm sure those are the most practical for employers and whatnot, but I don't know… Whenever I made websites like that, whether it be through Weebly or Wix or even Carrd, there was always this something there that prevented me from enjoying it. I guess the formalities? This forced professionalism? Like I was preparing for an interview and had to look my best, but the suit didn't fit or the collar was too tight. It was like I had to pretend to be this serious professional person that I know I'm not.
Where was the personality? The casual self-indulgence and colour? Why did I have to worry about only putting out my best work and trying to keep my personality hidden away for the sake of keeping an air of professionality or conformity? I don't even know if this makes any sense
When I was a kid, I remember being obsessed with the idea of "having my own website", and I feel like if I had known that Geocities was a thing back then, I would have lost my mind.
I was sort of living this idea of the "personal website" through my OC Wiki for Drimare Universe, but that was still under Fandom's domain and as much as I tried to push the layouts and tamper with codes to make things just a bit more interesting, in the end, it wasn't mine.
They could just decide to change the layout for everyone, things could change and I'd have to just go along with it. I'd decorate the room as much as I could, but the furniture had to stay in place.
Neocities feels like arriving at an empty house, and while you have to build everything yourself, your things aren't getting changed, you can make your own furniture, and move things around as you please. I guess to me I feel like this website is like a house, sure there might be some of that pseudo-professionality once I get more pages of my Art Archive going, but there are also journal entries, a collection of my stories, old photos of my pets and many other pages I can't help but be so excited to create so I can finally have that personal website that kid me so badly wished they could have had.
I only had some very basic knowledge of HTML and CSS when I started. I couldn't write anything from scratch, but if you gave me a premade layout, I could probably work from there. I've learned so much ever since I started working on this place. I had HTML & CSS classes before, but in those classes, we were only ever made to do those stale corporate minimalistic-styled websites.
I remember once attempting to customize one of those websites and one of my teachers just turned to me looking annoyed and asking me how I was planning on adapting that to mobile. I WAS bad at it, don't get me wrong, but I swear if I had been allowed to make something more interesting than soulless websites, I would have been more enthusiastic about it, I swear lol I genuinely really like doing this now
I kind of carried that comment about mobile with me for a while, but out of spite for those teachers, I decided that no. I want my website to be colourful and visually obnoxious (Within reason of course!), aND I will make it mobile-friendly.
...Maybe not really to spite those teachers (Can't even remember their faces), but because the only people in my family who would care to look at this place are all mainly mobile users and I figured I'd make it not a struggle for them :)
I still have a lot to learn in this place, but I'm looking forward to continuing to work and getting more and more compilations of my work and having fun with it! My friends know I have been so so so annoying about it, but if anyone ever wants any help getting started with something like this, I am open to help!
Social media feels more and more restrictive as time passes and working on a project like this has only made me realize how much of the internet seems to prevent self-expression. You get a profile picture, maybe a banner, and if you're lucky, you might even be allowed to choose an accent colour or two, but no more than that.
I don't know, I just wish this stuff felt more accessible :) I feel like we could all create such a wonderful and creative community, it's something I've been very passionate about and I hope that next year more people will be open to the idea! I feel so much joy when creating, and I hope others can find that same enjoyment in something silly like this. ♡
Life, Pride and Therapy
Wow, I started going off and almost forgot this was intended to be a post about how my year went.
Uhhhh I went to Pride for the first time this year! :) Also the Trans Visibility march during, well… in March.
It was something I'd been wanting to do for so long, but I've always been too scared of doing, either by uncertain feelings about my own queerness, or general fear of outing myself.
And when I was finally ready to go to my first Pride, Covid hit and everything pretty much went into that awkward limbo of existence.
But I went to Pride this year :) Met some new folks, who although we don't really talk, still helped me feel less alone. I have two Pride flags in my room now. An aromantic one that sits in front of my bed, and a BIG trans flag on my wall, no one in my family cares to ask about them or what they mean, which I'm fine with. As much as I still have the desire to share with them, I feel it's better this way.
I also FINALLY started going to therapy earlier this year. I've tried not to be too vocal about the issues I've gone through, at least outside of my private accounts, but I can say that I spent these past 3 years being so emotionally catatonic to the point where I had lost the ability to cry. I used to cry so much, I was constantly triggered into doing it, and then after a chain of shitty event after shitty event, loss after loss, I just… couldn't anymore.
One year ago, it was New Years, it was still Covid so I couldn't be with my friends, and I was sitting in my room, trying to force myself to cry, triggering myself on purpose, trying to think of as many horrible things as possible, rotating all the awful things I had done and said to people, all the awful things that had been done to me, and yet... Nothing.
Not a single tear. Not even a sniffle. Deep inside, I felt the turmoil, the knot in my throat, the weight in my chest, the emotions were all there, and yet, my body never reacted to them. I would go into these long insane rants on my locked Twitter, trying to get myself to feel something, hoping that I could just reach a boiling point where I'd finally be able to sob and let all those emotions out.
I still haven't had that moment. I don't know if I ever will.
But therapy has helped, and I've learned to cry again. It still needs a powerful trigger for me to do it, but it's no longer an exhausting war inside my own head to get my body to cry. I no longer need to write long angsty fics about characters bawling their eyes out to cope with the fact that I couldn't do it myself. I guess I was always just a bit surprised when people told me reading my stories made them cry. I never could when I wrote them, and I guess a part of me had this strange thought that I could make people feel my pain through my stories and they'd "understand" the pain of bottling things up like I did? …Nah that's stupid lol
But yeah. Therapy. I feel like I constantly have so much going around me all the time, whether it be my current living situation, social life, dealing with those losses and emotional constipation, or being openly queer while feeling like my family either doesn't see it or doesn't want to acknowledge it's there. It's strange to explain it. I've hinted at it, I have two huge pride flags in my room, I carry pride pins on my bag all the time, I've referred to myself as "Jay" and thrown a few masc pronouns in my sentences once or twice (Context - I use they/them gender neutral pronouns, but the Portuguese language doesn't have those so I've been using this he/she system as a replacement since our neos are kind of weird)
Therapy has sort of been helping me deal with all of that, as well as discussing the transition issue since, while I do want to eventually get top surgery, going on T is another can of worms and it's hard to think about it when I'm in this "pretend it's not there" status with my family. Does that make any sense? Who am I even asking that?
ANYWAY I'LL FIGURE IT OUT AND IF IT'S WORTH SHARING, I'LL LET YA'LL KNOW
Artist Alleys and Conventions
I've mentioned them in my past journal about Comic Con, but in order not to make people have to go fetch that, yes!! I've participated in Artist Alleys this year, after the awkward covid gap where nothing was really happening. I managed to table at four local conventions this year, and I plan to continue to join them in 2023.
It's been fun and I've met so many wonderful people through them. Although I am kind of absent in the Portuguese artist community, these cons are always such a wonderful opportunity to meet new people, share our interests and be able to hang out with friends.
I swear if it weren't for my friends who came along to these conventions either to sell alongside me, help tidy things up, bring snacks or keep me calm when I'm overstimulated and freaking out, I don't think I could have ever done any of it by myself, and I'm very grateful and excited to do more of this next year 💕 I'll stick to local cons in Lisbon, but who knows what might happen :)
To any IRLs reading this, I'm hoping we can do this again!
The newest development that has taken place in my life is that I finally got a job! To be honest, I'm still processing the fact that it managed to happen at all because I really didn't think I'd ever be able to get anything considering all the factors in my life that have lead me to this point. Without going into too much detail, I'm working in a warehouse sort of place, full night shifts so I pretty much only leave in the morning and the only sunlight I get is through the time it takes me to get home :) But hey, I get to work with earbuds on and not have to talk to anyone so that's more time to brainstorm creative work!
I wouldn't say I'm happy with the development, but I'm also not entirely unhappy either? It's only been two weeks since of writing this. It's been very physically straining, I may or may not be developing some sort of tendinitis because of it, but I'll try to keep that in check because I was put in this world to create art and I swear if I lose that due to pain, I might just lose my mind alongside it lol
But yeah, I was already a night owl by nature and I'm no stranger to staying up all night, even if staying up all night drawing on the computer is very different from staying up all night moving boxes around and being unable to sit down haha I can finally eat proper meals at least and maybe I'll stop looking like a living twig now that I'm moving around more???
What's important is that I finally have a source of income and don't have to rely as much on commissions anymore. And the idea of moving out on my own no longer feels like a distant impossible dream. I'm hoping to finally be able to make some progress and finally be able to live a life I can be proud of. For the first time in a long while, I look towards the new year with hope, and I hope that despite the tragedies and awful stuff that keeps on happening, that things will be brighter this time around!
Final Thoughts, Goals and Projects
Yeah, I wrote a lot, yikes, sorry about that
My main goal this next year is to continue to remain covid-free lol This is sort of a joke but yeah, pretty much almost everyone in my circle has had it by now and now it's less of an issue with the illness itself and more a pride thing that I still don't want to catch it lol I had a few close calls, but never tested positive
You'll pry my face mask from my cold dead face haha
On a more serious note, yeah, a serious goal continues to be moving out as I mentioned previously, and while I doubt I'll be achieving that this next year or the year after for that matter, I do hope to create a stable enough base to be able to get by on my own
Creative-wise, I'll primarily continue to work on this website. Because of my job's schedule, I haven't had as much time nor energy to draw aside from sketching on the bus when I'm leaving work (That's why my sketch thread on Twitter is the only thing that's getting somewhat updated), and while this doesn't mean I'll stop drawing, since I still have the weekends and whatnot, that whole thing is inevitably slowed down
Most of my current projects will be based on this website, particularly stuff related to Drimare Universe since I plan to migrate all the info of my Wiki into here, but I also have some ideas for stuff I'd like to do for my Deltarune AU
But who even knows when those projects will finally get to see the light of day
Thank you for indulging my ramblings, and to all my friends, thank you for being so wonderfully supportive and making me so happy, I couldn't be luckier to have all of you in my life!
Whether you've already celebrated, are still waiting, or currently are celebrating: Happy New Year!
Let's hope 2023 brings great things!