For several weeks leading up to Readercon, I made sure to always have chapstick on me. I completely disavowed milk and ice cream. I shaved and showered regularly and kept a close eye on how I was feeling emotionally. As a consequence, I was in a really great place when I got there. Most of my major insecurities and fears had been cut off ahead of time, I was in a good pattern of self-care, and I was equipped to handle things going wrong.
I am in approximately the opposite state right now. I mean, I just cut and bleached my hair today, but my lips are cracked and bleeding and I've been eating irregularly enough and badly enough to have a constant stomach ache of one sort or another for several days.
I tried to keep up those good habits after Readercon, but the fact is without something specific to look forward to I find it really difficult to push myself toward self-care. Even now, I think I'm only doing any better because I know I'm going back to Hampshire soon and I want to be in a good state when I arrive.
I wish I could string together, like, one major public event a month across my life, so that I could constantly be prepping for something that feels important and unique. But even that would become routine, right? Even if it were a different thing every month. I'd get used to it, I'd start to feel out which corners can be cut, and all of a sudden I'd be down to a razor-thin wire and no safety net to keep it together.
I don't believe that people can change the way they behave by sheer force of will, given unchanging circumstances. I need to figure out a way to rearrange the incentive structure within my life differently, but right now I don't know how to do that.