So in light of the fact that I now have 15 followers, and 1515 hits on this thing... I have decided to honor my "followers" and this commitment to quitting smoking by listing the 15 most important things I've learned so far by way of quitting smoking. And I wanted to share them with you since this blog is about quitting and I have admittedly gotten a little off topic as of the last few weeks. So here goes:
15 Things I've Learned By Way of Quitting Smoking
1. I am stronger than I thought. Habits are hard to break. Especially ones you derive so much pleasure from, but if even for a second, you felt like you needed to break a habit, then there is probably good reason for that. I had always had it in my mind that it was a choice. It wasn't a habit and it wasn't an addiction. It was a lifestyle, and it was something I enjoyed. Well... when I really listened to myself,... even when I would try to convince myself having one would be okay,... somehow I was able to stick with it, and I can be pretty damn convincing, so... I am definitely stronger than I gave myself credit for... because I have always (as with most people I'm sure) been my own worst enemy.
2. I can face things head on. Quitting has forced me to actually deal with difficult situations as opposed to run from them. When I would get upset, or frustrated, or angry, I would go blow off steam by smoking. I would use it as an out. I could literally run. I could say, "Well F*ck that. I'm going for a smoke and you can't stop me" and sure... I did that a lot. It wouldn't make me think... it wouldn't do anything but allow myself †o stew in my own pissed offness. It perpetuated a "F That" attitude. And in quitting, I no longer feel the need to run. I can sit and evaluate and figure things out.
3. I can rely on myself to get me through. I think #2 is a good segway to this point. I have learned how to rely on myself to work through things. I call my friends for advice a lot less, I vent out loud a lot less (although this blog has definitely had a huge part in that), and I have been able to talk myself through things which has in turn forced me to think for myself, instead of evaluate a handful of other people's opinions. And this one thing... this one ability to fend for myself, has perhaps made me feel more empowered than I have ever felt.
4. I am pretty good company. If you've ever smoked, (or owned a Blackberry), then you know that feeling, when you're alone, and you suddenly feel dumb just being....alone...so you either pull out a cigarette, or pull out your phone, and suddenly you feel less lonely.... well,...now that I don't smoke, and I really am not one to text,... I find myself a lot more comfortable just being. Like when I walk home. I can sort of just... walk and not be bothered that I don't have anything in my hand. Its a little weird still but... it's freeing as well and I don't feel lonely. I feel.... like I am more aware of everything around me. Including myself.
5. I can talk to people. I never really thought of myself as an extrovert. I have always hated going to parties where I don't know anyone and the thought of being at a restaurant by myself or anything like that,... has always in the past made me feel like an asshole. But now that I don't smoke, and I don't run outside at the first feeling of uncomfortableness, it has forced me to be a lot more outgoing. I also can't start a conversation with, "Gotta light?" Because let's be honest... that's too damn easy. Now I actually have to think of clever ins. Like, "Excuse me, do you have the time?" (KIDDING,... GEEZ I quit smoking not quit being sarcastic)
6. I have a really good/positive attitude. I'm not sure how this happened. I mean... I've always had a whole lot of attitude but now it's primarily good.... I swear I really don't know how this happened but I blame quitting on this one because there is no other possible way to explain this. I still get pissy and I still get upset but I do the whole lemons to lemonade thing a lot faster and a lot more frequently now.
7. I can inspire people. I have always been one to sort of chalk up my ability to inspire others by blaming my talent, as opposed to recognizing I may actually have something to offer others. Well, I can't tell you how many people have said that my blog inspired them, or that my quitting inspired them...and I am really starting to believe that I did and it's kind of awesome to think I may have inspired even one person.
8. I can be disciplined. Quitting smoking takes discipline. It's like any other "bad habit." or good habit for that matter. I never thought of myself as disciplined but I think the trick is that when I broke the habit of smoking... I replaced it with other more positive habits, and pretty soon, I fell out of the routine of smoking and into the routine of doing other things (like writing this blog).
9. I value time. The proverbial "they" say....Time is a precious thing to waste....If I think about how much time I spent smoking it's incredible. I timed myself once. If I was stressed I could smoke a cigarette in 7 minutes flat. If not...anywhere between 10 and 15 minutes. And then there's how much time I spent trying to hide it, and trying to figure out how I would be able to get cigarettes and if stores would be open or if restaurants would have smoking areas or if I would be in a group of smokers or non smokers...ridiculous. Now I have so much going on I can't even believe I found the time to do and think about all of that!
10. I do actually care about my life. I guess it's a simple thing... It's a simple concept to think about. I care about my life. The quality of it. The degree of care I put into the things that matter to me most. I think it's very easy to feel invincible and smoking is a rebutel to kinda giving a shit. But I do care/give a shit... and it's not about what others think, but it's more about what I think about my own life that's the important thing.
11. I need support. As independent as I want to be, and feel sometimes... I fully recognize how important it is to get and surround myself with support. I have been shocked with how many people have sent me words of encouragement or positive thoughts as well as how many people have opened up to me about their own lives and struggles with smoking. It has helped me tremendously and I feel very privileged to have the level of support I've been given and as much as I'd like to credit myself with quitting, I have all of you to thank as well. I think it's made the experience of quitting a lot easier. Actually, I know it has.
12. Positivity is contagious. I know I talked about having a positive attitude earlier but this is bigger than that I think. Since I quit, I've been a lot happier and in being happier have met a lot of really positive people, and when you're around that... I think it's contagious. It's attractive and it has sort of brightened up my world.
13. There will always be something. So not to undermine the achievement of actually not smoking for 2.5 months, but there will always be something I need to work on. I love that I've been able to quit smoking cold turkey (and yes this will be a never ending thing I suppose) I just don't want to rest on my laurels. I actually think the challenge of this whole process has kept me feeling.... alive.
14. Listening to myself is a good thing. The day I decided to quit smoking I had a conversation with myself that went something like this:
Me: You should quit.
Me No shit.
Me: No seriously. Stop thinking about it and just do it. All you do is talk talk talk.
Me I said find.
Me Are you seriously going to quit?
Me Fuck off. I don't believe you.
Me Don't care if you do or not.
And that day I picked a day to quit and then just... quit. So I think when I just shut up and actually listen to myself... I don't do so bad you know? Actually I should probably do that more often...
15. It's the journey. I know. Totally corny, totally cliche and guess what... totally true. I'll always be "quitting" but if in 2.5 months I've never felt this good...it isn't because I just...quit smoking one day. The first two weeks were f-ing hell. It's that in the past 2.5 months, I feel like a different person and my life has changed and my decision to quit was a part of it,... and every day will be different and trust me I know I sound like a spokesperson for AA or something but I appreciate this entire experience. So... put that in your pipe.
I hope you don't want to vomit now that you've read this but... just so you know, this took a long ass time for me to write this because I think if you're going to tell people what you learned, you ought to do your best to a. be honest and b. not make yourself look like a total asshole :)
PS: Look for me tomorrow when I announce on this thing wether or not I got into the NYC marathon!