When I was in 7th grade, I had to take an elective class. I chose band, because a friend of mine chose band and you’re dumb when you’re a kid and just wanna do what your friend is doing. I also made another mistake by choosing trumpet, which my asthma sincerely thanked me for. However, during my one year in band, I also met a girl playing trombone named Natasha. As a burgeoning lesbian, I had the absolute biggest crush on this girl, and we talked a lot in class and when we saw eachother around campus. People weren’t too fond of me because I was weird, and while people liked her a bit more, she had the same sort of issue. Come 8th grade, when we were learning what high schools we’d be attending, she discovered she was going to a totally different highschool than I would, and since social media wasn’t as much a thing back then, it was harder to stay in touch, so I was pretty sad about our lives parting ways.
After I graduated highschool, I moved to a small, seaside town. On the drive over the small mountain between where I grew up and the new place, I stopped and had lunch at a diner on the highway. When I walked in and sat at the bar, someone said my name and low and behold it was Natasha. We sat and chatted for an hour or so while I ate and just discussed how our lives had gone since then and what we were both up to at the moment. She’d had a kid. She was living on her own. She had a steady job (she didn’t seem dissatisfied with her work, but what do I really know?) and everything seemed to be on the ups for her. Seeing someone I knew in person as a kid now as an adult really fucked me up though. Seeing someone via social media, it’s filtered, in a way, you know? It doesn’t seem as real. But seeing someone my age succeeding in person? That messed me up, dude.
All it did was drive home how poorly I was and still am doing. I’m 28. I graduated high school. I have a film and multimedia degree from a trade school. I have never had a “real” job. The closest I’ve come to employment is the freelance writing I’ve done for a few years, which stopped paying about a year ago now. I am 28 and I am fucked beyond every comprehension. I have no money to my name, I am living in a bedroom without paying rent because it’s the only option I had, and I rely on my girlfriend for everything. I could’ve been so much more. I could’ve done so much more. But, when you get no support or enthusiasm from your parents ever, it makes trying seem pointless. I wanted to impress people. I wanted to impress my parents. Seeing everyone else my age have an apartment, some buying full homes, some having children and getting married…
…it’s soul crushing. It makes you wonder why you should even go on trying. And that’s when the depression I’d been dealing with for my entire adolescence finally kicked into high gear and I found myself wanting to die. We compare ourselves to everyone around us, society values us at how much we accomplish, who has enough money, the nicer car, the better job, so when you have nothing whatsoever, it makes you realize not only do you look upon yourself as a failure, so does the rest of society. It isn’t just a personal thing. It’s how you feel everyone feels about you. Society tells you if you don’t have as much as your friends that you’re not as successful, and then society has the gall to follow that up with, “But don’t worry about what others think about you! Their opinions have no meaning!”
I’m a 28 year old gay woman. I don’t have children, I am not married, I don’t own any property, I don’t have a real job and I, by all accounts, am a failure. But that’s okay. I’m GOOD at that. I’m GOOD at failing. I’ve been succeeding at it in spades all my life. Would I like to be “successful”? You betch yer sweet bippy I would. Am I ashamed of being “unsuccessful”? Hell no, cause I know nobody can hold a candle to my shame. Time and time again I have to relearn that it’s okay to suck. That it doesn’t make me less than anyone else. That it, in and of itself, is something I succeed at doing, and to take pride in that because if I don’t, I wouldn’t take pride in anything.
Okay, so Natasha might have her life seemingly together.
But I have perspective, and that’s just as important.
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