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How To Fail So You’ll Succeed

People often get irritated with me for continually saying that I suck, that I hate my work, that I’ll never be successful or that I don’t wanna do what I do anymore, but what they fail to realize (somehow, even after I tell them this) is that I need to externalize the internal in order to continue going. I need to believe I’m bad so I can continue to prove myself wrong with each new success.

By belittling myself to myself, by telling myself that I’ll never reach my own standards, all it does is make me feel incredible when I do reach those standards, when I do reach even a small piece of success. That drive is what keeps me going. If I don’t say these things, that hatred sits inside of me and festers into a horrid bubble of pure rage, and then I never get anything done. That’s way more unhealthy. I succeed because I believe I can’t.

Now that isn’t to say there aren’t times I really do believe what comes out of my mouth, because believe me, there are, and it’s a lot of the time too. Being touched by failure for the majority of your life, outside of career and inside career, really makes you feel pretty fucking terrible about your chances with success. That being said, more often than not do I use it as a way to continue to push myself towards the goals I wish to achieve with my work, and my life in general. Negativity is a bad copying mechanism? Bitch, please. It’s my only coping mechanism.

My entire life I’ve been told by people that I will never succeed. By my peers, even some people in my family at one time or another, and yes, you eventually start to believe a little bit of that, or all of it, in some peoples cases. But for me, spite thrives my craving for success. You wanna tell me how much I suck? We’ll see how much I suck when I’m happy and successful and you’re bitter that you’re still suck in that loveless marriage or in the same crappy job you claim you hate but can’t leave to chase whatever dreams you might’ve once had. Guess what. Dreams don’t go away with age. You will always have your dreams, so stop saying you can’t go after them after a certain age. THAT’S real negativity.

You hate me for achieving my goals? You hate me for even attempting to? Go try and achieve your own. Be happy. Tell yourself you can’t, and then do it, and prove yourself wrong. Be a successful failure. “Fake it ’til you make it”? No. Fail it, then nail it.

Own your sadness.

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I Have Nothing Left To Say

I have nothing left to say, and this devastates me.

I have no more original thoughts of anything creative to say. I can’t create. I can’t dream. What does a “creative” person do when they can no longer create? They stop being, honestly, which is what’s happened to me. I just sort of….am, now. I sit and listen to music, I eat, I take care of the house. I just do things to fill the time in my day that used to go to creating art, and this is just….it’s soul crushing. I have nothing left inside of me that scratches to get out. That doesn’t let itself go until I vomit it up into some form of artistic expression. I don’t know how to exist like this, and I don’t want to exist like this.

But creativity isn’t something you can force, either, so a lot of it’s just sitting around and waiting for something to inspire me. For something to come to me, and for me to go, “Yeah, that’s okay, I’ll make that!”. I’m lost. I’m completely empty and cold and don’t know what to do anymore. I think sometimes some people are meant to give up on what they thought they were “meant” to do, a sort of realization that destiny isn’t a real thing and that no, you just sort of lied to yourself for a few good years and now the magic is gone and it’s time to grow up and realize you need to join the ‘real world’. What does one do when that happens? I think often they go mad, or become so depressed that they often kill themselves.

While I’m not in the market to die anytime soon, which is a step in the right direction, I suppose, it’s still not where I want to be. I don’t enjoy anything. I don’t enjoy creation and I don’t enjoy existing without creating. Where does that leave me? It often leaves me laying in my bed or on the couch and just staring at the ceiling or the wall. It leaves me empty. I have no desire to participate with other human beings, and I barely had any energy or willingness to even type this entry, let alone come up with something to type about. And how cliche is this? “Oh, waaah, I can’t create, I’m too depressed to create, guess I’ll talk about my depression!”

Now I’m nothing but a trope.

I started this blog with the intent on figuring out things about myself, but what happens when it turns out you have nothing inside of you worth learning about? When you’re just not that interesting? I don’t know, and I’m afraid to find out. Perhaps there’s nothing inside of me worthy of getting out, of being seen, of being heard. Art. Writing. These are the only things I know how to do. It’s how I’ve tried, unsuccessfully, for the last 15 years to make a living, and now even I’m realizing I have nothing worth listening to or looking at. At least people who read these blog posts are disappointed in short bursts once or twice a month, I’m disappointed in long stretches of time every single day because I’m stuck with me, and stuck with my failure.

Whatever. Who cares. Nobody cares when I have something to say, so why would anyone care when I have nothing to say. Sorry.

I’m really sorry.

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It’s All About Effort

At what age is it socially acceptable to end your life?

It seems to me that it’d be somewhere between the ages of 30 and 40. You’ve made it through your twenties, you tried hard, you’ve reached the point of ‘adulthood’ that everyone else seemed to have reached with ease, and you still spend all your time wallowing in sadness from not having viable employment skills or lasting relationships of any kind. You burned your bridges for friends years ago after they got tired of having to listen to you ‘whine’ about how bad you feel, your parents want nothing to do with you because you’re becoming an embarrassment to them and anything romantically never lasts because you ‘don’t try hard enough’. The job market is a crushing joke, school is out of the question purely from an economic standpoint and you’ve got nothing left on the table except for becoming that friend who ‘will only sleep on your couch for like, two weeks, I swear to god, Brian.”

Life becomes a ‘choose your own adventure’ of suicide. Unsure which path to take, which page turn will eventually lead you down the road of your own demise, and both excited yet afraid, because it’s totally natural to feel both. In fact, it gets to the point where planning the end of your own life is actually a positive thing, because it means you’re doing something every day! You’re working towards an actual achievable goal! All these external factors you have no control over are forcing your hand to this decision. It’s not fair, but it’s the way it is. You get creative with the possible, seemingly endless ways to end yourself. You’re starting to feel more intellectually stimulated than you have in years. It’s so refreshing to feel like what you’re doing matters. You choose your method, get your supplies together and then sit down and look at everything and realize…

“Hey…I did something. I DID something!”

You’re 34, and things aren’t looking great, your prospects are shit and you feel so utterly alone, and society may have given up but you DID something. That took effort. Effort that can be applied to something else with the same passion you had for this. The way I see it, if I can do something like this, something that takes a lot of time and thought and preparation, then maybe I CAN do something else. Maybe I can work towards getting my work made, get people to care, fix my life and make things worth being around for. I could get married, I could get my writing published and maybe I could even help others who have been in a similar position.

And if that doesn’t work, at least I know in the back of my mind that I COULD kill myself. It’s nice to know you have some semblance of control in your life.

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We Were Supposed To Be Happy

Derek Fisher and Sandy Price were sitting in the car in the parking lot of a superstore, watching people come and go from the store to their car, carrying enormous bags of groceries and other purchases. They had a huge bag of chips in between them, shoveling them into their mouths as they people watched, and Sandy stopped eating to light a cigarette. She took a few puffs and left it between her lips as she motioned with her hand towards the windshield, at all the people outside.

“I’m not against consumerism or capitalism in any way,” Sandy said, “But think about it this way…this is the highlight of these peoples lives. This is what they do for fun. They spend money on something they’re guaranteed to hate and be disappointed by in under an hour.”

“Shit, if I had money I’d do the same thing,” Derek said, and Sandy exhaled some smoke.

“Yeah, me too, it’s true.”

“I’d complain about it, go buy stuff and then complain about it afterwards too,” Derek said, “That’s the American way.”

“…I got a job,” Sandy finally said and Derek looked at her, his eyes wide with shock.

“Really?”

“Yeah, I mean, sort of. It’s a temporary situation. I’m going to be a pseudo ballet instructor for the girls downtown,” Sandy said, “I’m pretty happy about it, actually.”

“Well, good for you, I’m proud of you,” Derek said and Sandy blushed, looking out her window.

“I guess if I can’t dance myself, I may as well help kids learn to,” she said, then after a pause added, “I don’t know why but I can’t shake this feeling that we were supposed to have more than this. I don’t mean like a 401k or anything, but…something…bigger. A better reason for being here. Not like, fate or destiny or anything like that written in the stars bullshit, but just something better in general, for existing.”

“I don’t know where you ever got the idea that life was supposed to mean something from,” Derek said, and she chuckled.

“We’re told since childhood that we’ll be loved by someone, that we can be anything, that we will be happy…but what happens if none of that comes true? There’s some people out there who can’t find love no matter how hard they try or how badly they want it. There’s others who can’t succeed, no matter what their level of schooling was. Some have degrees upon degrees and still can’t get a decent job now. A lot just aren’t happy. Not for selfish reasons either, like the media would like you to believe, but for legitimate reasons. For believing the things our parents told us. The things I just listed.”

Derek didn’t respond. He just ate some more chips and looked at the people.

“Look at this woman,” he said, “She’s got three kids and she’s wheeling out a large wide screen TV. She’s in yoga pants and I guarantee you she doesn’t do real exercise. She probably jogs and drinks expensive coffee and listens to self important talk radio and recycles and is a vegan. She probably puts so much effort into that appearance, that she’s better than everyone else, and then she goes and buys a huge TV for her three kids. She is everyone else.”

“I don’t want to judge people anymore,” Sandy mumbled.

“What?”

“I don’t want to be that kind of person. I’ve lived off hatred and snark my entire life. I want to try and be more positive. I want to be uplifting and…and just…nicer. I’m so tired of being so angry and mean all the time. It takes too much energy.”

“…well, I mean, nobody’s stopping you really,” Derek said, taking the cigarette from her and taking a long drag.

“I need to quit smoking at some point too, but god knows when that’ll happen. One lifestyle change at a time.”

Another pause, as Sandy watched that woman Derek had ripped apart open her van and get the TV in the trunk, and then get the kids into their seats.

“I’d be her,” Sandy said, “I really would. She looks happy. She looks like her life is great.”

“American life is engineered to look great and ideal. That’s how they lure people into the trap of student debt and housing payments they can’t afford,” Derek said, and Sandy glared at him. He thought for a second, and then said, “I mean, I guess she could be happy, sure. But it’s not ideal for everyone.”

“Happiness?”

“Her lifestyle.”

“It’s ideal for those who don’t have it.”

“Not really. There’s lots of women your age who wouldn’t want that.”

“…I guess that’s true,” Sandy said, “To each their own though. Still…bet she’s happier than me.”

“When I was in elementary school, this woman, Miss Klinger, came to the classroom and asked everyone what we were proud of the most about ourselves. Guess she was some feel good child psychologist or some shit. Anyway, she took answers from everyone, and we had to write it down on a piece of paper and hand it to her, and then she’d meet with us about our answers. I just wrote ‘I don’t know’ because I was in elementary school…I didn’t know what the fuck pride was. How could I know? I was like, 7. I’d barely been alive long enough to even accumulate anything to be proud of.”

“What did she say to that?” Sandy asked as he passed her cigarette back to her.

“She took me aside, like she did with all the others and she told me ‘there has to be something that you’re proud of’ and I always assumed grownups were right about everything so I believed her and just made something up to be proud of so she’d be happy and let me go. I don’t even remember what I told her. I just know it got her off my back, and so for the rest of my childhood, I just told adults exactly what they wanted to hear because I didn’t know what really to feel or say.”

Sandy looked at Derek, who was looking at his fingernails.

“I guess,” he continued, “if I died tomorrow, I wouldn’t know what to be proud of. Knowing you, I guess. That’s been something I’m happy about.”

Sandy smiled and leaned her head on his shoulder. Derek reached his hand up and stroked her hair.

“When do you start your new job?” he asked.

“This Monday,” she replied.

“…have you told your mother?” Derek asked, and Sandy tensed up.

“No,” she said flatly, “Why would I. She’d only be annoyed that I didn’t have a real job.”

“Are you proud of what you’re going to do though?”

“Absolutely.”

“Well, then that’s all that matters.”

Sandy put her arm through Derek’s, smiling. He may be negative a bit, and he might be a bit lost, but he grounded her, and she lifted him up, and watching this woman and her children, Sandy realized what she had was better than what this woman could ever have, and yeah, she was proud as hell of that.

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But I Can Read Good

When I was a little girl in school, I couldn’t do much.

I hated being there, nobody liked me and I couldn’t handle how noisy the other kids were and didn’t like working with them, so I often hid under a table and just cried. I wasn’t a very ok kid. I also couldn’t do much, as I said above, meaning I couldn’t do math and still can’t, and worse than that I couldn’t read, and this was even by 2nd grade. However, eventually a tutor at the school took me into her office every day for an hour and taught me to read. By 5th grade, I was reading college level books. While this is an accomplishment, especially at that age, it remains the sole thing that I am better than other people at. I recognize that life isn’t a contest or anything and I shouldn’t compare myself to everyone else but let’s get fuckin’ real, we’re humans and that’s what humans do.

So, I can’t do math. I can barely use an oven. I can’t tie my own shoes, whistle, snap my fingers and I have a hard time washing my hair, BUT, I can read well, and that’s what I can do better than most. I spend so much time in books, and it’s because I feel like it’s actually an achievable goal, finishing a book. It’s something that I can actually do. It makes me feel good to finish books, because I can’t finish much else. While that’s great, it’s a blow to the rest of my self esteem. I can’t do a damn thing else. I’m waiting for the day the world suddenly makes sense to me. I cannot wait until the day I wake up, and everything finally is easy to grasp. I don’t mean like I wake up and can suddenly do nuclear physics or anything, but for god sakes, if I could just one day shower and understand how exactly it is you’re supposed to shower correctly then that’d be great, and I recognize that the statement ‘shower correctly’ makes no sense to anyone else but me but here’s the thing…when you don’t do anything else but read well, you’re convinced you’re doing every single thing else in life the wrong way.

I can’t brush my hair, wash a dish or do anything without feeling as if I’m doing entirely the wrong way. That anyone who sees me doing these things is silently judging me for my poor workmanship. That one day someone will take me aside and go, “Listen, this isn’t right. Let me show you what you’ve been doing wrong all these years”. When I was in 4th grade, I was told by a doctor that I have bronchitis and needed an inhaler. I still have an inhaler today. I can’t even breath right. I went through all of school, straight from elementary through to graduation in high school doing poorly and failing pretty much every class I took. I tried applying for jobs for seven years solid and never got even a callback for a job interview. To my poor sick brain, I really cannot succeed or do anything right. The only thing I can do is read, and write about how poorly I do everything else. I’m a failure except when it comes to pointing out my flaws and failures. I’m an expert at that. I guess that’s something. I’m great at pointing out how bad I am.

And yet, despite all of that, despite everything I try and fail at and how poorly I feel about myself, I never once stop. I always keep doing these things. I always keep trying.

Silver linings and all that.

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Fluffy Confidence

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photo credit coyotefugly

Look at this dog. I took this photo in the city I used to live, and I can honestly say I will never achieve the level of confidence that this dog has achieved. This dog oozes ‘cool’. People see this dog and instantly want to pet him, be his friend and take his photo, just as I did. This dog is the epitome of confident, incarnate.

I, on the other hand, have no confidence. My gay little butt will never feel as good about myself as this dog feels on a day to day basis. I try so hard, too. I write, I make art, and I try extraordinarily hard to be happy with myself at the least, but I can’t get there. I just can’t do it. I want to like myself. To like what I do. But I just can’t. I’m struggling to get my work off the ground, to get anyone to appreciate my work, and in the back of my head, I’m reminded of this dog. While I’m sobbing into my pillow about how I’m never going to make a difference in this world or matter one bit, this dog is probably laying around somewhere with his lady by his side, both smoking cigars and listening to indie rock. This dog has it together.

Why is confidence so elusive? Why does it seem so impossible to attain? People tell us to love ourselves, but no too much, because then we’re full of ourselves and have an inflated ego. There’s no middle ground with this world. You’re either complete garbage or you’re a total blowhard. There’s no in between. What happened to just sort of being ok with everything? Why does everything have to be to such levels of extremism? Why do we have to either be the best or the worst, and why can’t we just settle for being alright? For being happy with what we do, with ourselves, even if we aren’t the best. People often say “It’s a dogs life”. They say that dogs have it easy, and we should all be so lucky to be dogs. As someone who’s sat around for 5 years doing nothing but sleeping and eating and going for walks, ie; living the life of a dog, lemme tell ya, it isn’t all that fun. It gets real old real fast. I’d much rather have a job. It says something about our culture that we equate ‘doing nothing’ with ‘happiness’ and ‘stress free’. It says that we have put too much emphasis and importance on what we do, and the failure we achieve.

I wish I could be like this dog. I wish I could be like Fuzzy McAwesome, but I can’t. I’m me, and I’m trying hard to make that ok. I’m not striving for happiness or success, just being moderately tolerable. Others try so hard to be successful and happy, and here I am, trying so hard to just accept that it’s alright to be ok, to just exist and be fine with that. This existential dread is crippling, and if I could just one day be ok enough to BE OK ENOUGH, then that’s success to me.

Is this dog radical? Absolutely.

Do I want to be this dog? Not at all.

As much as I hate myself, and as much depression as I have to deal with, I’m happy I’m me, because simply being me gives me something to work on. I’m working on myself. I’m working on bettering myself, and hopefully one day, being ok with being me. I’ll get there too. I at least have enough confidence to believe that. That’s a start.