Learning From Regrets and Mistakes of Others

I was only twelve years old when I heard someone just casually mention something to the effect, a wise man learns from his mistakes but the wisest learn from the mistakes of others.  And those few seconds changed my life for the better.  I then decided I want to live such a life that I would have as few regrets as possible when I came to the end of life’s journey.

I spent my teenage years listening to my elders complain about how much they hated their jobs or how unruly their kids were or how much they and their spouses fought.  Yet I saw almost no one do anything to change these bad circumstances.  I saw almost no one change jobs unless they got laid off or had health problems that prevented them from working.  I saw parents and their kids argue and fight over every little thing to the point the kids abandoned their parents after high school graduation and never looked back.  And the spouses almost never tried to solve their problems and often wound up divorced and bitter.  I looked out at all of this and thought that all of that was stupid. And all I heard from my elders when I asked about this was “Wait until you’re an adult” or “Wait until you have bills to pay”, etc.  All the while I was making notes and planning on how I wouldn’t fall into those traps.

I saw people have bad marriages.  That is why early on I decided I wouldn’t compromise on the woman I would marry.  I admit I was picky about the women I wanted to date.  Granted, not many of them wanted to date me.  Looking back on it, this upfront rejection saved me a lot of heartache down the road.  Why should I spend time with people who don’t want to spend time with me?  I am now thirty nine years old and have never been married.  I don’t have many friends that can say that.  But, I would make a bad husband and father with my mental illness and personality being what they are.  I try not to look back and wonder ‘what if.’  I am not anti marriage or anti family.  I just don’t think either one is right for me.  It is just part of knowing myself.

I have also left dead end jobs.  Everyone probably has worked one of those, especially in their twenties.  My first couple jobs out of college were dead end.  I left my first job out of college when my hours were being cut.  Looking back on it, I was probably being phased out.  So I moved to my current town and found another job within a couple weeks.  That too turned out to be a dead end job in the same industry.  I left after six months to go work at the local university.  I enjoyed the university job, but it was dependent on being a graduate student at the same time.  As it was, I didn’t make good enough grades to keep the job.  And since I didn’t want to go into debt to get a masters’ degree and not be guaranteed a job, I left the program.  Turned out to be a wise move.  My mental illness got worse to the point I couldn’t hold a regular full time job.  I applied for disability in January 2006 and it took almost two years to get approved.  I don’t know how anyone survives while waiting for disability to kick in without family support.  But I went on disability without any student loans.  And while I was working fifteen hours a week as a janitor at the courthouse, I was living quite well.

After a few years at the courthouse, I decided another change was in order.  I left that job and devoted myself to my blog, my writings, and my self directed scholarship.  It was a good decision, at least for me.  I have learned to live on little money and appreciate the simple things.  I have studied  several different topics over the years, all just either by going to the library or watching educational videos and audiobooks via youtube.  And it didn’t cost me anything other than internet service fees (which are only a dollar per day for my needs).  For the price of two cans of Coca Cola out of a vending machine, I have access to the knowledge of the ages.  That by itself tells me that right now, in 2019, is a very cool time to live in.  Sure we have our problems and issues, but it used to be much worse for most of history.

In short, I have tried to live my life with few regrets.  I have made decisions, while not popular with my friends, family, coworkers, etc., that made a great deal of positive difference for me.  I don’t know how long I will get to live this life.  But whenever my last days come, I don’t want to be wondering ‘what if’ or ‘should have or could have.’  For the most part, I don’t have a lot of regrets.  At least, not many I could have done much different.

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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.”