In Search of Isolation

I don’t like people. I used to, but years of customer service have ruined whatever interest I had in meeting new people, and that’s a problem.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think people are getting worse. Maybe I’m biased, but I’ve dealt with way too many assholes lately for it to be a coincidence. Either that, or I’m slowly dying inside.

Whenever the world gets to be too much for me, I like to sit in my room and listen to my records. I know that being by yourself all the time isn’t the best for your mental health, but it’s much better for me than going outside.

I don’t know if my love of isolation will come back to bite me, I’m sure that it’s definitely strained my relationship with my friends and family, and it’s not exactly great for my dating life, but it’s something I desperately need to keep functioning.

Why is that? Why do I feel out of place, floating from one place to another like an errant cloud? Is there something wrong with me, and I just can’t see it? I used to love meeting new people and experiencing new things, but now it’s just a pain in the ass, and I’d rather spin up Malibu and write articles about nothing.

This post is getting heavy, so here’s a baby giraffe.

Mental Quicksand

Fear is quick sand. It’s a pair of cement shoes weighing you down. It pulls you down and envelopes you until there is no light, no escape, and no forward progress. You can fight as much as you want, but it will only drown you quicker. You see the world pass you by as you suffer in silence. You wish you could do something, but no matter what you do, no matter how close you get to the surface, you still drown. The only way to escape it is to accept it and let it take you.

There’s a Pixar movie called “Inside Out” that really made me think. Essentially, your emotions are anthropomorphized beings who work in your head, effecting how you perceive the world, with one emotion holding the wheel. Ever since I saw that movie, I’ve wondered which emotion of mine holds the proverbial wheel, is it anger, fear, sadness, joy? I’m torn between anger and fear. I’m angry because I have ridiculously high expectations of myself and everyone around me, and get upset when they don’t live up to my expectations. I’m angry because I’m an emotional punching bag for hundreds of assholes at my bullshit minimum-wage job. I’m angry because I could’ve been better and achieved everything I wanted. But I’m also scared of everything, which is probably why I’m miserable.

It shouldn’t be this hard. Why can’t I overcome my fear when so many others can? Do you think that a Russian Infantryman in Stalingrad wasn’t terrified? No, but he muscled through his fear and achieved his goal, or died trying. What the fuck is my excuse? I want to be better, but there is this mental brick wall that I keep running into preventing me from advancing, and nothing I do can penetrate it. I wonder what the future holds, if this is just a temporary setback, or if it’s the battle of a lifetime.

Why Going to the Gym is Great

When you hear people say they want to get into shape, where do they always say they’ll go? The gym. Where do those people never end up going? The gym. They’re missing out.

I have a lot of pent-up energy thanks to my ADHD, so I spend a lot of my time thinking about how to manage that energy. The most efficient way I’ve found is hitting the gym. The gym is the best place for me to burn off that pent-up aggression and anger and turn it into something productive. My gym routine is simple: I start off with a nice stretch, just to knock the dust off and limber up a bit. This is to make sure that my body doesn’t break more than it’s supposed to. After I’m good to go, I get on the bike and do 20 minutes of rigorous cardio while making fun of my friends on Twitter and checking the news. After burning a couple hundred calories, and losing faith in humanity, I move to weights. My weights routine is pretty simple: the first day I start with the lowest weight that provided resistance, do a set of 25, take a 30 second rest, add 10 pounds, rinse and repeat until my body decides that I should stop. This probably isn’t the most efficient workout, but it works for me. By the second day, my body usually isn’t too pleased with me, so I go a different route, quantity over quality. I start with my usual stretches, but instead of punching my muscles in the face, I take it nice and slow. I start around 60-70lbs and do 5 or 6 sets of 30. After working on all the various muscle groups and jamming out to some angry music, I grab a protein shake and go home.

The gym is very important to me, it keeps me balanced, and I definitely need to be balanced. Whenever I miss a day, not only does my body feel like it’s missing something, my mind does too. Whenever I get irrationally angry and grumpy, I can tell that I either need to hit the gym or write to make all that bad voodoo go away. The most important part of my gym experience is the music I bring with me. Usually, I like to fill my playlist with music that motivates me to go a little further, or that pisses me off enough to push through the pain. Recently, I’ve been putting a lot of Bobby Shmurda, Denzel Curry, Vince Staples, and All That Remains on my gym playlist. These all help put me into the mindset that I can do anything, and that anything that gets in my way will be destroyed. It’s easy to run 5 miles when ScHoolboy Q is (allegedly) shooting up the block over a DJ Dahi beat that sounds like the soundtrack to a home invasion.

In summary, for those of you who like to skim through articles, GO TO THE GYM. You won’t regret it, and you’ll feel better about yourself, and your physical ability.

I Had a Cliche Fall Day

I don’t know about you, but living in a small orchard town in Massachusetts, fall is a pretty big deal. It starts in September, with the Instagram pictures of girls going apple picking and drinking pumpkin lattes and pumpkin beer while eating pumpkin muffins.This goes on until the 3rd week of September.

Next, you start seeing Tweets about how people “Can’t wait for spooky season!” This is when you know you’re in too deep. By this point, stores start putting out Thanksgiving decorations and begin to spray cinnamon inside to spark the whole “Fall” experience off. Now, if you haven’t read my posts before, you should know that I’m not really a festive person, and all the corny fall things make me angry. Or so I thought.

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Look at all that Vitamin C

The transition started off with a wimper; one of my friends has been wanting to go apple picking for weeks, and since I already went for my annual trip with my mother, my quota for apple picking excursions was filled, but I figured it’d be nice to get out of the house, so I told her I’d go. We’re driving past, and it’s a madhouse, (on a holiday, no surprise), so we decide to meet some more of our friends at a nearby winery. This brings me to Basic Fall Activity #2: Wine Tastings.

Now, I like wine, but I’m not a connoisseur, I don’t understand where people get flavors like “burnt toffee and citrus” I just taste white wine. With that in mind, I went into this wine tasting with low expectations. Boy, was I wrong. We get there, and for 10 dollars, not only do I get 5 glasses of wine to try, I also get a fancy wine glass. Things are starting to click with me. I get why people like this now.

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It’s not alcoholism, it’s a hobby

5 glasses of wine later, I’m starting to enjoy myself. I start to look around the winery, and I notice it’s got an amazing view of the changing leaves. I spent way too much time looking at the leaves, I have a new appreciation for foliage, and for malbecs.

After buying a bottle, we leave the winery, while debating on what to do next. I have a sudden craving for apple cider donuts, and by this point all the families at the orchard should be gone, so we swing back over to the orchard for some hot and ready donuts. Upon arrival, I find that the donut prices have gone down, and that I can get 6 donuts for a lot less than the 3 I had originally planned on devouring. There’s nothing like a hot, sugary donut 5 seconds off the donut machine. After consuming 3 donuts in half the time it probably took to make them, I decided that I needed to walk around and burn off some of these calories, because that’s something I care about sometimes.

My fall stroll was a lot nicer than I expected; the air was cool, but not cold, and there was a slight breeze that kept the bugs off me. I should’ve taken pictures, maybe I’ll upload some next time I’m in the mood for a stroll, because the orchard provided a spectacular view of the changing leaves. I totally understand why boring New York people drive hours at a time to come see them, they really are cool.

It started to get dark out, so naturally I ended my stroll. Conveniently, the apple orchard is within walking distance of my house, so I mosey on home and make myself some dinner. About an hour after I finish eating, another one of my friends texts me “Do you wanna drink beer and chop down trees for a fire?” Usually, the answer to that question would be “Hell no, I’m not messing with a chainsaw after a day of drinking.” Not today. Said friend, knowing my penchant for hating Fall activities, followed up with “The Packers game is on”, knowing that I love to see Aaron Rogers lose.

When I get to my buddy’s house, and the first thing I see is a veritable graveyard of Bud Lite cans and Skol Wintergreen laying on the deck. Shocker. In the distance, a voice rang out: “Caleb, you lil’ tit-fucker, grab my ax, I’ll show you howta split wood like you’ve still got some fuckin’ balls!” Well, that’s not what I imagined I’d walk into, but I dig it. I sit back and watch my two redneck friends argue about woodcutting techniques while I sit back and sip a beer. This whole “fall” thing isn’t actually that bad after all.

Everyone’s Got a Little Pete Campbell in Them

I think Pete Campbell is in us all. He’s the guy who works extremely hard to prove himself. He’s the guy who tries too hard to be impressive. He’s the guy who has everything, but feels nothing. I watch Mad Men a ton, and every time I re-watch it, I pick up something new.

Pete has an inferiority complex, brought on by his family, his job, and the expectations of his time. When he first comes to Sterling Cooper, he’s a newly-married 26 year old with high expectations, and he thinks he’s got the world by the balls. He’s done everything that is expected of him, and expects to be given the world in return. In reality, he was only hired to provide the agency access to the blue-blooded clients they couldn’t get without his family name. Pete hears so many things about Don Draper, and when he finally meets him, he’s enamoured, like everyone is, by his talent and charm. Don Draper is everything Pete Campbell thinks he wants, without knowing the cost. Don is handsome, talented, good with women, rich, and “happily” married, all of the things Pete so desperately wants. The longer he knows Don, the more the facade fades away. By the 7th season, Pete is dealing with Don in the middle of a downward spiral of alcoholism, and while he still supports him, he is vocally upset with him. To me, this is the moment where Pete realizes he has made the wrong choices in life and wants to change.

“Ambitious men are never happy with what they have!” Pete’s wife Trudy is dead-on with this quote: Pete is the embodiment of ambition, and suffers greatly for it. By the end of the show, he has everything he thought he wanted: power, money, a beautiful girlfriend, the respect of his peers, but he still wasn’t happy. He realizes that he doesn’t want to be by himself forever, he wants his family back. Pete’s arc ends with him taking a position at Learjet in Wichita, far away from the temptations of New York. Before he leaves, Pete goes home to Trudy for one last sales pitch, the only one that truly matters: for them to be a family again.

I see a little bit of myself in Pete, and I’m sure you do too. I’ve always demanded more from myself, comparing myself to others without considering that they might not be happy where they are. I think this is natural, we put so much pressure on ourselves to be great, that when we’re not, it kills us inside. I also come from a decently-comfortable family, nothing like the Campbells, but enough that I feel the pressure to succeed and make something of myself without using their help.

Everyone wants to be Don when they start watching Mad Men, but the more they see his life unravel, the more the facade he builds fades away. The opposite is true with Pete: the more you see that he works so hard to be valuable and respected, the more you like him. Pete Campbell is one of the only happy endings in Mad Men, and the only one that isn’t temporary. You might have been a Pete when you were younger, you may be a Pete now, the important thing is to learn from his mistakes and grow from them.

Why Failure is Important

Everybody has failed at something, if you haven’t, you’re probably not good at anything. Failure is incredibly important, but no one wants to fail because it makes them feel like failures themselves. This is why failure is so important: it fuels you to do better.

I fail all the time. Usually, I just pick myself up and move on, but sometimes that failure builds up, and becomes permanent. The more I fail, the angrier I get, and the angrier I get, the more I fail, so I’m trying to just roll with the punches and accept failure as a learning experience. I’ve been trying to get a new job for the last few months, sending out dozens of applications every week, usually to no response. This hurts more than I’d like to admit. It sucks that I’ve put so much work into trying to be better at what I do, only to have nothing to show for it. Maybe it’s for the best, I’ve worked so hard, given up things that I enjoy, prioritized my goals over everything else in my life, just to be kicked in the face. I’m not going to give up, rejection makes me want to work even harder to show that I’ve got what it takes to get where I want.

Failure isn’t fun, it’s not sexy, it doesn’t feel good, but it is one of the most important feelings that we have. If failure felt good, no-one would try to better themselves, no-one would try to change their mindsets, no-one would ever think that they could do better. Every time I write a blog post that no-one views, I get a little bit sad, but that feeling goes away quickly, and I learn from my mistakes and adapt. I see my friends fall down when they start to care too much that they refuse to act, and I get it, some people are so scared of the downsides of life, that they forget the upsides and hide from them. You can change. You can be better than you are right now, but it will cost you.

Failure is educational because it lets us see how our ideas work in real life. If you think that you have a good idea, and you decide to take out a business loan and run with it, you could end up bankrupt. You get to see what worked and what doesn’t work, and that is more valuable than people think. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to make the same mistake twice, so if I identify a problem, I do everything in my power to prevent making it again.

I hope this reaches someone who needs it, too many people let failure run their lives. Picture it this way: working out doesn’t feel good at first, but when you look at your six-pack abs in the mirror, you feel damn good. It’s usually worth it, so what are you waiting for, go out and fuck something up.

The Poisonous Pursuit of Perfection

“Nobody’s perfect” is such bullshit. I know quite a few people who are perfect; perfect jobs, perfect relationships, perfect bodies, perfect lives. The thing I don’t see is how achieving perfection affects them. I’m a perfectionist, I don’t like putting things out that haven’t lived up to my colossal standards, and that holds me back greatly, and I assume it’s the same for those people. My problem is that if something isn’t “perfect”, I’ll pick it apart until it’s completely different from what I started with. Then I start to think “You fucked it up, run it again.” That starts a cycle of edits and self-doubt that lasts until I either get angry and quit, or create something I think is great.

Perfection is such a shit concept. The idea that something can be so good that nothing can change it for the better is such a toxic idea. I’ve had nights where I couldn’t sleep because I had a test a week later, and I knew I could be studying, which lead to me doubting myself, which fucked my head up enough so that when I don’t do as well as I think I should, I think that it’s because I’m not as smart and talented as people think, and not because I didn’t sleep for 2 days before the test.

Long-term perfection is hard. Do you know how often I mess things up? Literally every single day. Those “perfect” people have to be the same way. There have to be Buddhist monks, who have devoted their lives to being self-actualized, who have probably cut someone off in traffic. Elon Musk must have loudly farted in front of potential investors, unless my theory is correct, and he’s an actual cyborg. Those compounding failures form a fog of war that clouds my judgement, making me doubt things that should be no-brainers. The pressure for me to do better is always there, always biting at my heels, always telling me I suck, and it’s pretty fucking annoying.

I think perfectionists are driven by pressure. I certainly am. It’s wild, I’ll procrastinate for days on a writing assignment because I really like writing and want to do well, but I don’t think that my ideas can live up to the expectations I have in my head. This leads me to fart out some half-assed word salad, that actually does well. You’d think that this would make me happy, but usually all I think is “Wow, this person took it easy on me.” Which leads me to think that people are just telling me that I’m smart because they care about me and want me to feel good, and that I’m actually too stupid to see that I’m not talented. I’ve got crazy high expectations for everyone in my life, especially myself, and I get let down when they don’t meet those standards. My brain telling me that I’m terrible keeps me motivated, as bad as that sounds, and I’m sure it’s responsible for a decent amount of good things, but it has absolutely ruined so many others.

I don’t know how to change, I don’t know how to stop being hard on myself, and I’m worried that if I do, I won’t be able to do the things I’ve always wanted to do. If you’ve read my other articles, you know I have ADHD, and I’m sure that it has a part to play in why I am the way I am. I don’t know if I’m really smart, or if people are just too polite to tell me to my face that I’m a moron. If you’ve dealt with the same thing, please comment on what you did, I’m sure that someone else can use the same advice.

Small Town America is Overrated

My town has 6,500 people in it, which is about the same size as your local liberal arts college. The problem with that is that 75% of them are over the age of 40. Small towns suck, that’s why rent out here is 650 for a decent house. Small towns are the worst for people my age: everyone who hasn’t left by now is either super family-oriented, weird as shit and doesn’t leave their house, or people from my high school who still wear their Letterman jackets from 2009 at bars. I’m not any of those people, I don’t like those people.

With nothing to do, and no one to do it with, you start to get a little weird. Case in point: our local police reports. Every week I look forward to getting the local newspaper, just so I can check out what type of stupid bullshit some geriatric thought was unacceptable. For example, last week I saw a report of a suspicious person walking down the street with a backpack. The police responded, and found it was a child walking home from the bus stop after school. This is type of shit that happens when there’s nothing to do, you get bored, and you start snooping on your neighbors because you think they might be havin more fun than you.

Small town America has done as much to contribute to our nation’s drug problem as our drug policies have. When I was a teenager, my friends and I didn’t have a place to hangout and do teenager things, so we’d just drive around until we found somewhere deserted and smoke weed until we thought of something better to do. We usually didn’t. As the years went on, more of my friends started to try new drugs, and when the opioid epidemic hit, small towns like mine were hit especially hard. By sophomore year of high school, people were smoking percocets in the bathrooms during lunch and doing Oxy bumps off of their desks. It’s a lot easier for a kid to get drugs than it is for them to get alcohol, so it’s a lot more common for kids to do drugs in small towns.

Now, if you’re older and married and have your life figured out, I can totally understand why you would move out here; it’s cheap, it’s quiet, it’s pretty, nobody bothers you (for the most part), there’s a lot of open space if you’re into outdoors-y things, and you can begin to build a family there. If you can afford to, live in a medium town, something with more than 10,000 people in it. That way, if you decide to have kids, they have choices and opportunities when they decide to leave the nest and make their own lives.

Directional Politics is Stupid, And So Are You

I really don’t care if you’re left, right, center, diagonal, or fucking horizontal. You’re still a moron. Unless you’ve got a Political Science degree, and have worked in politics, you don’t know what you’re talking about, and you’re wasting valuable oxygen regurgitating half-remembered facts from http://www.I’mRight.com. Fuck off, you’re just as dumb as the rest of us, you just don’t know it. I’m sick of all these uninformed dipshits who get their entire worldview from Fox News and think that Trump is the second coming of Jesus. He’s not. God’s not real, and the fact that I haven’t been smited by Holy Lighting yet means that either he’s not real, or he agrees with me. Donald Trump is a moron, anyone with two braincells to rub together knows it, but let’s break it down.

Leftists aren’t any better. Can’t you people get along? What is your problem, why do you have to attack everyone you don’t think is as “woke” as you? Shouldn’t you be uniting as a group instead of picking off people who kind of agree with you, but who don’t force politics into every conversation? You people need to shape up too. What, you think because you’re against Trump, you need to be against everyone else? Go fuck yourselves, you pretentious cock-goblins. I used to believe in you, I want all people to be happy and healthy and free, but if that means I have to cancel Dave Chappelle because he made a joke someone didn’t like, I’m gonna tell you to fuck off and gain a sense of humor. I get most of your views, but the sheer amount of Social Justice Warriors on Twitter getting offended over jokes makes me think that you’re all so miserable that you need to make everyone else as miserable as you so you can feel included. Shut up, get some therapy, and pour yourself a drink you uptight assholes. The worst part about the Left is how you are all such unbearable dicks. Your worldview is based off of taking things people smarter than you that you agree with say out of context to prove you’re right. Do your own research, go outside, and shut the fuck up.

Don’t think I’m done with you, Righties. You’re the reason I feel uncomfortable to vote Republican. You’ve ruined the brand, and now I have to pick one of these uppity dick-lickers who are going to spend all my tax money on stupid things that don’t work. Every time one of you goes on TV, I feel my brain starting to hurt as you fumble to explain how the government is going to take your guns, even though that’s never been a thing. Wake up people, politicians found a way to weaponize your fear and stupidity and laziness and turn it into Republican votes. Every moron I know with an understanding of economics gained from selling weed and watching Wolf of Wall Street can be swayed by propoganda disguised as memes, or by listening to media sources made to make you think you’re smarter than everyone. As I’ve said previously, you’re not, and the sooner you accept that, the sooner people will stop calling you an unbearable douche. I’ve never seen stupidity like I’ve seen on the Breitbart comment section, it’s like entire communities didn’t bully the stupid out of racist morons unfit to pour my coffee in the morning. If you think Climate Change is a hoax made up by the Chinese to destabilize our economy: get a vasectomy, you are too stupid to be allowed to reproduce.

We didn’t used to be like this, so I have total faith that we can change. It won’t be easy, it won’t be quick, and it will cost us greatly. If we’re to move on from this colossal fuck-up, we’re going to need to forgive each other. It’s going to suck, no one wants to admit they were mislead, that they were wrong, that they aren’t as smart as they thought. The alternative is total destruction on a scale not seen since the Roman Empire. “America isn’t the greatest country in the world anymore. But it can be.” Jeff Daniels was right, we’ve lost our way, but I can’t give up on the people of this country, even though I really have no interest in talking to 95% of you. We need an event that brings us together, I’m not talking about a mass shooting, or a terrorist attack, or a speech on TV. I’m talking about something that shocks us to our very core, something that the 24-hour news cycle can’t hide. I don’t know what that event could be, but I know that if we keep going down this path, we will alienate the people we share our country with, and that is fucking unacceptable. I don’t care about your politics, one of my best friends is a huge Trump supporter because he likes how he talks shit on Twitter. He’s not a racist, he’s not a billionaire looking for a tax cut, he’s just an uninformed consumer looking for more content, regardless of the real-world consequences. We need something to reunite us, we need something to be As American As Apple Pie again, we need Pam Anderson’s tits bouncing on Baywatch, because if there’s one thing that everyone can agree with, it’s that boobs are awesome.

Why You’re Miserable

I’ve been fascinated with unhappiness for years, I’ve always wondered what is it about ourselves that makes us miserable, and I think I’ve figured it out. People are miserable because they expect too much out of themselves. Think about it: you probably think you are some underrated genius who won’t be understood in your time, or you think that every idea you have is amazing, or you think that even though you can’t seem to come out on top, you’re a winner.

It’s not your fault. It’s really not. You’re doing your best, and that’s all you can ask for. If you’re anything like me, you spend too much of your time thinking about why you’re not happy. Social media has ruined this country, it’s the rotten core of humanity that has gained exposure. Facebook hasn’t made us awful, we’ve always been selfish, egotistical assholes who want attention at all times. I’ve noticed a lot more people who think that being happy means people think you’re happy, and I think that’s wild.

It’s not just you, it’s everyone else too. As a lowly, minimum-wage customer service professional, I see the general public more than the average person, and I’ve noticed they’re getting worse. If I had a dollar for every person who was rude to me, or who took money out of my tip jar to keep from breaking a bill, I wouldn’t have to work anymore. People are fickle, they jump on any excuse to be shitty, because our society doesn’t allow us to truly embrace our shittiness. Society ostracizes anyone who upsets the balance of things, and angry assholes yelling at people are the way we reset. Every angry douche at work has their reasons for being a douche, you can’t blame them, so just feel bad for them and move on.

That’s another thing that’s making us miserable: work. An average of 53% of Americans hate their jobs, and if you spend 40 hours a week hating something, you’re gonna have a bad time. So many people only got their job out of fear; fear that they wouldn’t have enough money to live the way they want, fear that they won’t be respected by their friends and family, fear that they’ve wasted their lives doing something they hate. I understand that, I’m afraid that I’m not good enough to do what I want, I understand that, I’m afraid that I’ve wasted my time, that I could’ve spent my time developing a different set of skills. You’ll never find an answer, so why bother?

Anger is useful, don’t let anyone tell you differently. It’s the single-most reusable resource. I’ve never run out of anger, and when used properly, anger can change the world for the better. Look at the Civil Rights Movement: people got so angry that they actually sacrificed everything to achieve their goals. Imagine what you could do if similarly motivated.

People need to learn ways to healthily release that natural anger, or it’ll become misery. If you bottle up all your resentments, all your failures, all your mis-steps, you’ll end up locked in the bathroom with a gun in your mouth. This is why I think we need to have mandatory mental health screenings in schools, to erase the stigma of therapy, and to stop the spree of school shootings and road rage incidents. I think therapy should be a lot easier to get, so many people in this country could use an impartial third-party that can guide them through the hard parts of life.