Stop Telling Me How Lucky I Am

Kind of burned out on people lately, including friends and family.  But the strange thing is I’m also burned out on loneliness too.  Spent more or less months trying to avoid angry, rude, and irritable people.  And when I do make an effort to socialize, most people just want to complain and moan.  Being that I am actually making an effort to find out what is going right in my life and the world in general, this doesn’t give me much to talk about with even close friends.  And lately it seems EVERYONE has been having bouts of anger and depression.  Even my close friends are so negative it just sucks the life out of me.  My moments when I’m the most happy is when I’m isolated and just not hearing from anyone.  It’s been this way for a long time.

I don’t know what happened to people, at least my friends.  It seems like everyone just got irritable and angry all at the same time.  And it doesn’t matter what my friends’ circumstances, married friends are angry, divorced friends are angry, elderly friends are angry, family members are angry, etc.  About the only halfway content people I talk to are single facebook friends and my own mother.  Seriously,, what is bothering everyone?  I really truly want to know.  What is it?  And oddly, when I have bouts of irritability and depression, my friends and family get scared senseless thinking I’m about to have a psychotic breakdown.

I never understood why I, with a mental illness, am held to higher standards than everyone else.  If I get angry, I’m having a breakdown and not just a lousy day.  If I’m overly happy, it’s a mental quirk and not just a winning streak.  If I want to be alone, I’m being anti social and not just needing to recharge.  And my personal biggest pet peeve by far, since I don’t have to work being on disability pension and I have a supportive family, then I am freaking lucky.  Seriously?  I mean, seriously?  I lost almost everything and people tell me I am lucky.  What gives people?  I lost my chance at a career before I could even begin fulfilling my potential, I lost my shot at getting married, I lost my shot at having children, I lost any shot at any kind of prestige, I lost my honor, I lost most of my friends, I have a college degree I will never use in any kind of job or anything else, I have a phobia of leaving my apartment complex, I lost my ability to read people, I lost my ability to trust people, I often have flashbacks to bad experiences in my past, I’ll be in poverty for the rest of my life, I lost my physical health because of my mental illness, and I’m probably going to die younger than most of my friends, peers, and family.  Tell me exactly where the lucky part comes?  I seriously want to hear it.

I’m told I’m lucky because I get several hundred dollars a month from the government because I can’t work.  Yet, in the next breath I’m told I’m unmanly, a freeloader, and a drain on humanity because I receive disability.  Which is it?  As far as everyone who is defined by their job and takes pride in how much their work sucks, millions of jobs will be taken over by machines within the next fifteen years.  We are set up to see more science, tech, and social change in the 2020s than we saw in the previous forty years.  If I wasn’t so worried about social problems and potential civil war in my country, I would actually hope and pray that people who tell homeless and disabled people “get a job you bums” end up losing their jobs and everything they worked for.  People like that don’t have empathy or compassion.  And getting kicked in the gut by forces beyond their control is the only way stubborn fools like this are going to learn.  You too may find out you are more subject to the whims of chance than you could have ever imagined.  I certainly had to.

The worst part of being told how lucky I am is when my friends tell me this.  I’m lucky because I’m not divorced or have kids I can’t afford.  No, I was smart in not marrying someone I wasn’t compatible with because I wanted to look good to self righteous jerks who don’t have to live with my decisions.  I was smart in not having promiscuous and unprotected sex that resulted in years of child support payments for kids I rarely get to see.  I was smart for ending dead end relationships and not chasing women I had nothing in common with just because they were attractive.  I was smart to not take on student loans once my scholarships fell through.  Yet people tell me I’m lucky because I don’t have a small fortune in student loans.  People tell me I’m lucky my parents helped me out in college.  Yet, these same people won’t acknowledge how hard I worked in high school and college to get the grades I did (not like they care anyway).  No one knows how many weekends I spent at home doing homework and getting ahead in my classes, while many of my classmates, peers, and rivals were spending their weekends getting drunk, getting stoned, getting laid, and generally partying themselves senseless.  Spent most of my weekends doing homework and trying to make myself a better human being in my teenage years.  The only break from that routine was spending a few hours in church every Sunday.  I didn’t get to enjoy my teenage years as much as most people, but I also didn’t make many of the bad decisions either.  And for this I’m passed off as being lucky.  What my friends call being lucky I choose to call being smart.

And I especially love how people tell me I’m lucky my parents helped me with college.  Sure, my parents made decent money.  But they made that money because they were smart, worked their hands and minds to the bone, didn’t have any kind of social life during their working years outside of church, etc.  And we are condemned as lucky.  No, what most fools call being lucky is really more accurately called not being stupid.  My family knew many years ago the days of massive amounts of high paying blue collar jobs requiring only a high school degree were going to end, as they did.  My father knew even in grade school there was no future in the share cropping my grandfather did.  Even my grandfather, who never even went to high school knew this clear back in the 1950s.  Some may think my grandfather a hypocrite in pushing my father and his sisters so hard in school when he himself never went to high school.  No, grandfather was being smart and didn’t want my father or my aunts to fall into the same trap he did.  He wanted a better life for his kids.  Most parents used to not only want this but actually try to make this happen.  In my family it was enough to push my family from generations of dirt farmers and shop keepers most my family was to the medical professions of my parents to the engineering professions of my brother and his wife in only a few generations.  It was enough to ground me and make me smart enough to manage a serious mental illness and look almost normal to anyone who doesn’t really know me.  So, tell me I’m lucky if you wish.  But you will never know how smart and hard I and generations of my family had to work for you to damn me as “lucky.”

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Taking The Roads Less Travelled to Live A Life Rarely Lived

Feeling quite well overall.  In fact I would say that I’m quite happy overall much of the time.  Yet living alone because of my mental illness, I really have no one to share this happiness with.  Most of my friends, at least the ones in my age bracket, are married with children and in the middle of careers.  I have several friends who are now divorced and struggling with life.  I have a hard time relating to these friends simply because I never married.  Even before I realized how serious my mental illness truly was, I didn’t have much interest in getting married.  Growing up, I saw that many married couples were unhappy and having money troubles.  Three of my best friends’ parents and three sets of my cousins’ parents went through divorces while I was growing up.  It just seemed insane to me that my elders were chastising me for being leery about marriage when I was watching marriages getting picked off on a regular basis.  I’m so glad that my parents didn’t pressure me into getting married or having kids.  Now I’m watching some of my classmates go through divorces or having money problems in their late 30s.  And I don’t have those problems.

I don’t feel guilty about avoiding the problems that many of my friends and family members have or had.  It seems that most of the really good marriages I see out of my friends and family members came when the couple in question didn’t marry until their late 20s or even mid 30s.  People can say that marriages in the “good ol’ days” lasted a lifetime.  But many lifetimes didn’t last that long.  And most people in bad marriages stayed in mainly because they had no choice, especially when mobility was extremely limited and there weren’t many career options, especially for women.  Many people in the old days married more than once, not due to divorce, but because of the death of the spouse.

And let’s not kid ourselves, people change over the years.  People develop different interests over the years.  People develop different values over the years.  I am definitely not the same person now that I was fifteen years ago, let alone five years ago.  And one of the things that keeps me getting out of bed every morning is the idea that I can and will change over time given enough time and effort.  Having said this, the person you marry at age twenty three isn’t going to be the same person ten years later, let alone forty.  I tried to tell this to my classmates when we were in college, but many of them were like ‘love is forever’, or ‘love is all you need’, or ‘who broke your heart’.  But here we are fifteen to twenty years later and some of my friends and classmates are finding out there was some truth in my theories.  I’m not cynical by any means.  I’m actually more optimistic than most people I know.  I just see trends earlier than most people.

Even though I had a few really cool friends in high school, by and large my teenage years were difficult.  In fact, in many ways, they sucked.  I loved scholarly pursuits and I loved to play football at the same time.  That made me an outcast among my teammates by itself.  My best friend in high school was a girl, and most people couldn’t wrap their minds around the idea that it was possible to befriend someone you found attractive and not have sex with them.  I suspect the big reason I didn’t get many dates in high school was because my best friend was a girl.  But, looking back on it years later, I’m glad I did it the way I did.  I do regret not keeping in contact with most of my other friends, but these guys aren’t the type to hang out on facebook or go to reunions anyway.  I wanted to get good grades and good test scores in school, so that made me a nerd.  I knew right away I didn’t have the hand coordination to go into the trades, so crushing it in academics was the next best thing.  And I got excellent scholarships because of my dedication to academics.  Sure there were many I didn’t qualify for because of affirmative action and equal opportunity deals.  But rather than complain about what I couldn’t control, I did what I could.  Namely take difficult classes, do well in those, nail the college board exams, and go to a college that would offer me good academic scholarships.

Even though I didn’t graduate in my preferred field of the biological sciences, I did graduate with a business degree with an emphasis on management and economics.  I had no delusions that I was going to be the next Wolf of Wall Street, but I really wanted to teach personal finance and investing classes at the college level.  That was before I realized I would probably need a doctorate in order to even consider having any job security in the academic world.  Well, I didn’t want to go into student debt to do that.  And I could tell my mental illness was getting worse even in my mid twenties.  So I applied for disability insurance and moved to low income housing.  I worked a part time job for a few years, mainly to prove to myself that I could.  In mid 2012, I decided to leave the regular work world to concentrate on my writing and personal scholarly pursuits.  I didn’t need to work as I could live off my disability pension.  I can do this because I have zero debts, zero family obligations, have cheap hobbies, and I am a minimalist.

For years people told me I was crazy for not getting married, not wanting to have kids, not wanting to pursue the regular nine to five grind, not wanting to go bar hopping on the weekends, and not spending my money on crap I didn’t need to impress jerks I didn’t like.  But I’m not even forty yet and I’m already starting to see benefits from being wise and not screwing up.  The only really sad thing about this is that I find myself not having much to talk about with when I’m around my old friends.  I don’t have a job I can’t stand.  I don’t have problems with money.  I don’t have a spouse or girlfriend I have personality clashes with.  I don’t have an ex I’m send alimony to every month.  I’m not making child support payments on kids I never get to see.  I was able to separate the gold nuggets of wisdom tossed my way by my elders from the mountains of b.s. that some people tried to jam down my throat.  I sometimes find I have more in common with members of my science and futurism groups on facebook than I do my classmates and even some of my friends.

People think I’m odd because I get along fabulously well with my parents, at least the ninety nine percent of the time I’m not having flare ups with my schizophrenia.  Sure they were demanding and tough on my brother and I when we were kids.  Sure they told us harsh truths about ourselves, the world at large, and didn’t give us the whole Disney fantasy fairy tale stories kind of childhood.  As a little child in the early 80s I knew who Ronald Reagan was before I did Mickey Mouse.  At age seven I could identify Carl Sagan before I could most movie stars and musicians.  It made no sense to me as a kid as it seemed that some of my school mates were more care free and happy than my brother and I.  We may not have been raised like warriors but we certainly were raised like scholars.

Now that I’m an adult I am grateful for the way I was raised by my parents and extended family.  I am grateful I struggled socially as a teenager as that made me develop skills that some people never had to.  I’m glad I got see what could go wrong in dating relationships and marriages without having to experience these tragedies first hand.  I’m glad my best friend in high school was a girl.  I’m glad that she and I are still good friends twenty years later.  That probably wouldn’t have happened had we tried to force the friendship into a romantic direction.  I’m grateful for the failed relationships and dead end jobs.  I’m thankful I moved out of my hometown.  I’m grateful for the years I lived alone.  I’m grateful I got out of debt.  I’m grateful for loving to read and write.  Reading and writing give me a joy that I never found in any romance, job, etc.  I’m especially thankful for the early struggles in my teens and early twenties with mental illness and bad jobs.  I’m glad those struggles came in my youth rather than my current middle age.  I don’t have a mid life crisis because I had my crises in my teens and twenties, learned from said crises, and adapted accordingly.  I’m glad I didn’t have it easy early on socially, work wise, mental health wise, etc.  I’m grateful for the early struggles.  I’m glad I had to face loss in my early twenties as opposed to my late thirties.