I’ve been playing as white exclusively to get better at it, and been in free fall from 7.4 kyu to 12.4 since
Nope, i dont hate it, but i agree that playing as white is more reactive than proactive. When you play as white, you are always one move behind of your opponent, and on early stages of the play this usually is a huge factor of overall board position. This mean that things you can do in opening is little bit limited.
So as white, take a chillpill and mind your own positions and shapes. You are already technically ahead thanks to komi, so you don’t have to do anything brave or speculative from the start, instead just see that your groups stay safe and solid. Do not try to actively bully or force black into making mistakes, just take care of yourself and wait black to make the mistakes on his own, i guarantee that every kyu makes bad decisions when given the sente more than once.
In my games there are so many mistakes, slow moves, gote moves and so on, that I believe it’s completely irrelevant which colour I am.
Let’s be real here, how many of your games are decided by komi? For me it’s probably 2 – 5%.