Things I Wish I Knew At Age 18

I’m going to be celebrating my 41st birthday next week. A lot has changed over just the course of my life. The fact that I can send out my random rants into something called The Internet and have them available to anyone who has what is essentially a pocket sized super computer that happens to make phone calls is still mind boggling. The subject of this post is the things I wish I knew about life when I was 18 rather than having to learn them through hard experience. So here goes

Things I Wish I Knew At Age 18

In many ways, work is easier than school. At least with work, you get paid for your trouble. And you don’t have to deal with the completely random assortment of jerks, losers, morons, and bullies that you are assigned to just because of your age and where you live. At work, most people are there because they have skills the job demands. And, no, you aren’t expected to make friends at work.

You don’t have to get married and have children to have a fulfilling life. You don’t even have to have a successful career to be fulfilled.

It’s probably best if you don’t get all of your fulfillment from your job. The most interesting people I’ve ever known hate their jobs but made up for it with their hobbies, church groups, community activities, etc.

It isn’t necessary to have a high paying job to make lots of money, especially if you are smart about things like debts and investing. Lots of people make six figures yet are only a missed paycheck away from being behind in their lease or rent. Some of the richest people I ever knew never owned expensive houses, took vacations to foreign countries, or drove anything more luxurious than a new Dodge Ram pickup truck.

Take care of your joints, especially your knees. You’ll miss those when they go bad.

Routine maintenance on EVERYTHING. It doesn’t matter if it’s your house, your car, your physical and mental health, your friendships, your marriage, etc. It will allow you to correct minor problems before they become major crises.

You can tell the truth all the time and some people will still think you’re a liar.

Many people stopped developing mentally and emotionally as teenagers. In fact, I know many adults who have worse morals and make worse decisions then teenagers and college students.

Elders will always complain about the “damn kids.” The only way to avoid doing this when you become an elder yourself is to consciously fight against it on a daily basis. The same people complaining about Billie Eilish and Ariana Grande where the same people rocking out to Rage Against The Machine and Marilyn Manson back in the 90s.

If you want to find out what someone is really like, give them power and money.

Some people will always fight against change. They are usually only delaying the inevitable.

Some people will never be pleased.

Some of your worst critics will be family members, friends, and neighbors.

The only real constant in life is change.

June 9 2021

Weather has been very hot the last several days. Summer is certainly here. My parents are going to visit for a day or two next week as my birthday is coming up. I don’t need anything really besides a few extra pairs of pants.

I usually talk to an old college friend of mine three times a week in the late mornings. He’s a high school teacher and school is out for the summer. Even though I haven’t seen him in person in several years, we still have lots to chat about. He and I are in the same fantasy baseball league. Have been since the mid 2000s.

Sleep patterns are changing, again. Most nights I fall asleep shortly after midnight, wake up to visit the bathroom in the middle of the night, and wake up around 6am. I usually nap for an hour or two after lunch. I think I’m also eating less. I still eat twice a day, but I’ve been having smaller meals for the last few weeks. I’m limiting caffeine. I have only one cup of coffee per day, usually in the morning. But I’m starting to find I feel better on days I don’t have coffee. I sleep more on those days, but I’m also less irritable.

I haven’t been doing much reading the last few weeks. I still watch lots of educational videos on youtube. Been studying lots of economics videos the last several weeks. I’m thinking a change in subjects will be in order soon.

June 7 2021

It’s been a quiet and uneventful few days since I last wrote. Been sleeping more the last few days. I spent a couple days slightly sick, mostly stomach issues. I think I might have had a case of not properly cooking one of my meals or just caught a slight sickness from one of my neighbors or a delivery man. But I’m feeling normal now.

My birthday is next week. I’ll be 41 years old. Other than chronic leg and back pain that doesn’t allow me to stand more than a few minutes at a time, I’m enjoying my 40s. I do have a few gray hairs on my face. It’s one of the reasons I shave more often now after spending most of my 30s with beards. Being clean shaven and not having really short hair does make me look less threatening to my neighbors and friends.

Been lazy about weight lifting the last few weeks. I want to get back on top of that again. Weight lifting is probably my favorite exercise, especially since I can do it while I’m sitting down and watching tv. When I was in grade school, my parents used to help me with my weekly spelling tests during tv commercials on school nights. It was rapid fire as we tried to get through all the words on the weekly list within the 4 minutes of commercials. I guess I’ve always been doing some kind of physical or mental drill while watching tv. Yes, I lift weights while watching Star Trek reruns. Get both my jock and nerd fix at the same time.

That’s about all I have going on right now. The weather has gotten real hot after a cooler and damper than usual spring. It’s a good change up. I love the variety in seasons living in a place like Nebraska has to offer.

June 2 2021

Got to see my best friend for an afternoon last week. She had some paid vacation time and came to Nebraska to see me and some of her family. It was amazing. I had forgotten how enriching good in person conversation can be. It’s a pity that I don’t have any more neighbors like her anymore. My favorite neighbor of all time was a retired Lutheran pastor who was one of the most well read and brilliant men I ever met. He was fun to chat with. He appreciated that I liked history and philosophy and could easily talk with him about such things. He offered to give me some of his old theology and history books. But, since most were in ancient Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, I had to pass. I do know some Spanish, but that is it for foreign language.

When my old friend was in town, she left me a few of her newer drawings. I’m going to need to get those framed soon. Even though we hadn’t seen each other in person for several years, we picked up like we were still living in the same town.

Mentally I’m still stable. About the only time I have real bad aches and pains are in the mornings. I am back to sleeping a lot again. I usually go to bed around 10pm and wake for good around 9am. It’s been almost a month since I’ve had my covid vaccine. I don’t really have much planned for this summer other than read alot.

The Reality of Mental Illness

I was diagnosed with schizophrenia and major depression when I was 20 years old. I was covered under my parents’ insurance plan for psych meds. At the age of 25 I applied for social security disability insurance because I was no longer covered under my parents’ insurance and it was painfully obvious I couldn’t handle the anxiety of jobs available (i.e. retail and customer service jobs). My psych meds, without insurance, were $2,000 a month in 2006. To offset this, my parents bought a high risk health insurance policy for me that, to this day, they still refuse to tell me how much it cost them. I didn’t qualify for social security disability insurance until late 2008.

To avoid getting thrown out of the system, I couldn’t make more then $700 a month (after taxes) at any job. I had a janitorial job for a few years that I did well in because I wasn’t around people most of the time. After four years on the job, I finally did the math and figured out that for every one dollar I made in work, I lost 72 cents via increased rent (I live in low income housing), decreased benefits, and taxes. I finally gave up on the job because there was no incentive to keep working at what was effectively a 72 percent tax on a minimum wage job.

I am now 40 years old. Haven’t held a traditional job for eight years due to loss in benefits. I still need the psych meds every day or I would be homeless, in prison, or dead. We don’t even have long term mental health hospitals in large numbers anymore in the US. And if I want to save money in case of emergencies, I’d lose benefits if I ever had more than $3,000 in savings. This is all for a chronic mental illness that I didn’t bring upon myself. I was an honor student in high school who qualified for a $5,000 a year scholarship for college. I was studying to get into medical school. Lost most of my friends, most of my support group, any chance at a family, any shot at a career, etc. so I could keep the insurance for psych meds and treatments that would now, in 2021, cost $4,000 a month. And I receive zero dollars in food stamps. The support of my understanding and upper middle class family during the two plus years I was waiting for disability to get approved (which was faster than normal because we hired an attorney) is the only thing keeping from going bankrupt and homeless. So my case with severe mental illness is actually better than most people in the US. As it is I live on my own in low income housing in a small town in the Midwest and can live independently off my disability pension because I have no debt. Most people in my circumstances are far worse off.

Emerging From Self Imposed Quarantine

It’s been quite awhile since I last wrote. Updates are in order. Got my covid vaccine two weeks ago. So I’m more comfortable hosting guests in my apartment. My neighbor drops in usually every afternoon and we chat each other up. Found out a few of our tenants might have to leave from getting behind on rent. I’m glad that’s one thing I never did no matter how financially stressed I became. Granted, living in adjustable rate low income housing is a bonus.

I’m still mentally stable. I usually go to bed at 11pm and usually wake up for good at sunrise. Been watching alot of science and tech talks on youtube the last few weeks. I have gone easy on the audiobooks for the last couple weeks. I do read alot of articles online from many different sources. The information to be well informed is out there even if I have to spend some time looking for it.

Diet wise, I usually eat only twice a day. My biggest meal is always lunch. I found if I eat a protein rich lunch at 11am, I’m usually good to go until having a smaller meal at 5pm. I almost never eat sugar or carb rich food. Sugar can make me feel lethargic and irritable. As much as I love coffee, I limit myself to only one cup per day. Too much caffeine can make me irritable and short tempered. The only time I eat fast food is when I have family as guests. Fast food no longer agrees with me. It just makes me sluggish and gives me upset stomach. But stomach problems run in my family. My grandma had Chron’s Disease and both my mom and one of my aunts have stomach problems.

I don’t spend much time on facebook these days besides socializing with close friends and a couple cousins. It’s best if I don’t just scroll all evening. I think more people are learning to balance it as opposed to a few years ago.

I leave my windows open all the time unless we’re getting heavy rain or wind. I still wake up kind of chilly in the morning. But it is good sleep weather.

May 9 2021

Other than a few really hot days, it’s been a chilly spring. We’ve also had several good rains. Hopefully enough to ease drought conditions. I usually leave my windows open during the day and close them right before sunset. Still gets chilly at night.

Had my covid vaccine. I took the one shot Johnson & Johnson. Didn’t have any side effects. The nurse was so smooth with the needle I barely felt it go in. My mom is a retired nurse and always prided herself and causing as little pain as possible for her patients.

Today was Mothers’ Day. I called my mom. My brother had some flowers delivered to her house. She and my dad went out for Chinese after church services. My mother is one of the big reasons I’m still on social media on a regular basis. Even though I call her three to four times per week, she still likes checking in on her boys. It doesn’t matter that I’m in my forties and have a few gray hairs, I’m still her kid.

I think I actually lost weight during my self quarantine. Most of my clothes I bought are now quite baggy. I have to buy extra tall clothing because I am taller than most people. My torso is actually longer than my legs. I had a doctor tell me if my legs were any proper proportion to my torso, I’d be almost 6 feet 10 inches. As it is, I’m 6 feet 2 inches. So I ordered a couple shirts through Amazon.com that are a size smaller than I normally order. They should be here in a few days. As I live in a rural area several hours away from major metro areas, I don’t get next day delivery. But I told one of my cousins who has grade school age kids, her kids will someday be nostalgic for the UPS or Amazon man the same way she and I were for the Sears Christmas catalog.

Overall I’m doing alright. Had a couple minor breakdowns since Christmas. But they were quick to pass. I’m not as paranoid as I used to be. I don’t hear footsteps out in the hallway or knocks on my door from people who aren’t there nearly as often. Footsteps and knocks at my door are two of my common auditory hallucinations. Another one is my phone ringing, especially if I’m in another room from my phone. I usually leave my phone sitting on my desk unless I leave my apartment.

Spring has gone fast. I’m feeling less stress overall. I’m to the point where I’m the one encouraging my friends and family more than the other way around. It will be interesting to hear people’s stories about what they did during the Covid pandemic of 2019 to 2021. I imagine many people took this time to retrain for higher paying jobs. Some probably got in better physical shape. Some probably learned to play a musical instrument or learned a foreign language. Some may have made lots of money investing their stimulus money. And I am grateful for the grocery store workers, delivery people, truck drivers, nurses, doctors, research scientists, etc. that made this pandemic more bearable. It’s one of the first times I ever saw when doctors, nurses, scientists, etc. were as publicly respected as tv stars, politicians, business tycoons, etc.

Getting The Covid Vaccine

Got my covid vaccine on May 5th. Didn’t have any reactions. I signed up for a home health service and two nurses came to my place and gave me the vaccine in my home. I was told it would be probably two weeks before the vaccine was in full effect. Glad I got it done. It’s been a long strange trip since last March when I more or less went on volunteer self quarantine. Since I’m overweight and mentally ill, the covid could have been worse for me. But after staying close to home, wearing masks in public, avoiding crowded places like restaurants, and having my groceries and household supplies delivered, I’m starting to get ready to return to some type of normal.

Being Alone vs Being Lonely

I’ve spent most of my life alone. I haven’t had a roommate since 2004 and haven’t been on a date since 2006. It’s not that I don’t like having conversations or in person interaction. I have very rarely met people who share the same interests I do. I grew up in a small farming village of less than 500 people in rural Nebraska. The nearest Wal Mart was over an hour drive away as was the nearest four year college and book store. Most people I knew growing up thought I was odd in preferring to read science and nature books in grade school over playing sports. I never could run fast and was never coordinated enough to do well in sports like baseball or basketball. I didn’t have quick enough reflexes to be very good at most video games. My brother was a master at those. I always lost to him and I gave up trying to compete against him when I was ten years old.

Instead, I spent most of my free time either in the local library or wandering my back yard. While in my back yard, I made up stories and fantasy worlds. It came natural to me. Granted the neighbor kids thought it was funny and used to spy on me. Got me real paranoid after awhile. I didn’t have many friends growing up. I guess no one liked the smart kid who wasn’t afraid of being well read and smart. Even the adults thought I was strange for preferring to read to going to ballgames or county fairs.

It wasn’t until I was eleven that I met a friend who had many of the same interests and was just as much as an outsider as I was. His family moved in from a mountain town in Colorado. We hit it off right away. He and I were discussing politics and economics when most of our classmates were discussing school yard gossip, the latest video games, or the results of the college football games the previous weekend. He and I would sometimes spend our recess time discussing the presidental debates with our sixth grade teacher in 1992. Naturally our classmates thought we were weirdos.

I met my current best friend when I was thirteen. She and her sisters were homeschooled. First time in my entire life I met a kid who loved reading even more than I did. We hit it off immediately. Of course I got a lot of grief from classmates because my best friend was a girl. Half of the school thought I was gay and the other half thought we were all but married by freshman year of high school. Neither was true, she and I just shared similar interests. Most people don’t realize how few options I had for socializing for most of my life. Hell, I didn’t realize how limited my options were until facebook came out. Sadly, facebook turned into a toxic waste dump shortly after being opened to the public at large and big money got involved. Sad to see something so beautiful get so distorted.

Because my best friend in high school was a girl, that killed my chances for dating. Some people have the issues of not being able to get a second date or end up dating losers and jerks. My problem has always been getting anyone to say yes even once. I never did figure out what I was doing wrong. I flat out asked people what I was doing wrong. I never got any answer beyond ‘just be yourself’ and ‘there is someone for everyone.’ Right.

Even going off to college and being the only person from my school on campus didn’t improve my dating prospects. I asked one girl out and she laughed in my face. I had another girl in one class get all angry because she thought I was starring at her when I was really just starring at the clock. I did have a steady dating relationship my second year in college. Like most young romances, it didn’t last. We didn’t have enough similar interests. My last three years of college, I spent whatever time I wasn’t studying for classes in the library reading the classics of philosophy, history, literature, poetry, etc. Those books that serious literature students consider classics but never read, I read dozens of those in my spare time in college. Sure it killed any chance at dating, but I figured out that I wasn’t what most people were looking for anyway. It was no loss.

One I got out on my own, I struggled for a few years bouncing from job to job because of my worsening mental illness. I eventually wound up on disability. Worked a few years just to say I could. In 2012, I took early retirement from traditional work to devote my life to study and writing. At age 40, I’m far happier with this arrangement than with any I’ve ever had. I don’t get spied on by my neighbors like the kids in my hometown did. No one gives me a hard time for not wanting to date anymore. No one insults me because I love to learn. Sure it gets lonely at times, but that is what happens when someone has rare interests and lives in an environment where aren’t many people. Could I have done better socially if I grew up in a suburban setting? I don’t know. I’ll never know at this point. But it does get lonely. Some days I feel like a medieval monk with a great book collection but no one to share that knowledge with.

I’m Lonely But I Fear People

I find myself wanting to avoid in person contact most of the time. Yet I still have a strong desire to socialize. I don’t socialize in person much partly because I know only two people in my entire apartment complex who share any of my interests. Sure my neighbor is cool and we help each other out a good deal, but we don’t have much in common interests. It is lonely not having anyone nearby to talk about things like history, philosophy, psychology, literature, tech, science, economics, etc. Social media used to be good for that before it became a toxic cesspool. Social media was fun until about ten years ago. It got real ugly in 2015 and 2016, a time when I was already having lots of personal problems. From October 2014 to October 2015, my three best friends in this complex died, my grandmother died, I had my car accident, and had falling outs with several friends and family members. In short I got tired of hearing negative crap about politics all the time. And I even agreed with some of these people, but they were still toxic about their beliefs. I confronted a few about their toxic behavior. Every one of them told me I could go away if I didn’t like it. I did go away. I have stayed away. I won’t even go to family functions and class reunions anymore. One of my college friends I haven’t talked to in almost seven years. It’s so sad and frustrating I don’t even want to talk about it. It’s sad that many people care more about politics than family, work, religion, and even life itself. I want no part of that.