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.

My Journey Climbing Mt. Douglas

Hiking is a weird concept for me to understand. Part of me gets why people like it, it’s physical, it’s outside, you get a nice view at the end, etc. That being said: FUCK hiking. I recently went with a friend of mine, and it was quite a day.

First, I had to be up at 8am, which is usually when I’d be in bed, watching YouTube videos of retail workers snapping and beating up rude customers. After rousting myself out of bed, I decide to be proactive and pack a cooler; if I’m climbing a big ass mountain, I’m gonna need a few beers to take the edge off. After finishing up my hiking survival kit, I drove over to my friend’s place to pick her up and head out. Now, she’s a bit more experienced than I am, and she’s definitely in better shape than I am, so when she said that Mt. Douglas was an easy climb, I was a tad skeptical. Upon arrival, I notice that the parking lot is half a mile away from the start of the climbing path, and primarily uphill. Great, I get a taste of what I’m in for today.

After trekking up the road to the trail entrance, I notice that the trail is awfully steep for a so-called “easy climb” and begin to question my decision. As we begin the climb, I notice that I forgot my water bottle in the car, half a mile away. After weighing my options, I decide that Miller Lite is going to have to do for the time being.

About half an hour into the hike, my legs start to get sore, and we take a break. From this height, I can see the entire valley, and it’s breathtaking. Even from halfway up. My friend starts talking about all of these crazy places she wants to go, and I’m thinking “Let’s settle down there, we haven’t even finished this hike, and we’re talking about going on another one?” I spark up a joint, refresh my beverage, and try to muster the energy to move.

Another half hour later, we’re almost at the top, and I’m running out of gas. I think to myself, if some crunchy granola hippy can do this tripping face on acid, I can too. I channel every 80’s action hero and football player and push through the pain. Fuck, I need to get in shape again. After running out of inspirational 80’s figures, we reach the top of the mountain.

I get it now. I get why people do this to themselves. From the top of the tower pictured above, you can see for miles. I can even see Sebago Lake, and I’m betting if I had some binoculars, I could see my house too. As I’m still enjoying the scenery, and my third beer-flavored water, my friend is getting ready to head back down. I’m not having any of that, I spent 2 hours busting my ass to get here, I’m gonna stay here as long as I damn well please. I’m thinking about how much of a bitch it will be to climb/fall down this mountain, and I’m trying to stall as much as I can so I can climb down this mountain safely and not look like an out-of-shape disaster. Before I go down, I get the wonderful idea to pee off the face of the mountain, and I stand by this decision, because it was awesome. I finish my last beer, and mentally prepare myself for the return journey.

The thing about going down a mountain; it’s a little easier than I thought. As we descend, I start to get a feel for the terrain, and begin to walk a little faster. Mistake. Not even 15 seconds after adjusting my pace, I trip on a root and fall on my face. After laughing to myself about how funny that probably looked, I reassess my speed. We’re now about 3/4ths of the way down, thanks gravity. We finish up our climb and walk back to the car, where I immediately fall into my seat, exhausted and a little buzzed. I think to myself, hey, it’s better than being at work.

My Rocky Relationship With ADHD

I’ve heard ADHD described many different ways, but this is my favorite: my brain is a Bugatti with tricycle breaks. It’s scarily accurate, my mind goes a million miles a minute, but the second I’m forced to switch gears, the whole thing collapses. ADHD is a huuge pain in the dick, but it’s also a goddamn superpower. On the one hand, I spent 8 hours making spec banner ads for the Economist, and they were (for the most part) pretty good. There’s always that other hand though, the one where I forget to hand in the homework I spent all night working on, the one where I’m 10 minutes late to everything, the one where I forget to eat all day. Well, you win some, you lose some.

My battle with ADHD, and it is a battle, started when I was in 3rd grade, at the ripe age of 9. This was before doctors started handing out Adderal prescriptions like Oprah hands out cars on Christmas, so I had to go to Children’s Hospital in Boston, undergo 3 hours of testing to make sure I wasn’t just stupid. After being told that I absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, had ADHD, things started to improve a little. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you’re prescribed medicinal amphetamines. From that point on, I knew my battle with ADHD would be trench-fucking-warfare, but Adderal would be the tank that stormed the front lines.

ADHD’s a fickle mistress, but she does let you fuck her sometimes. My brain doesn’t work right, so I think of things normal people don’t, and while most of those things are ridiculously stupid and should never be spoken out loud, some of those ideas are brilliant. ADHD has also made it possible for me to consume vast amounts of information in a short period of time. This is generally called “hyper-focus”: a fun little mental quirk that is responsible for railroading whatever gets in it’s way. Hyper-focus is why ADHD is a superpower. I once procrastinated for an entire semester of English, and ended up having to write 16 papers in one day, which I did. Not a single one got less than a B. Superpower.

The problem with having superpowers is you eventually have to fight super villains. My brain, while being an almost-endless source of entertainment, is also a jumbled mess of words and memories. Trying to pick a certain memory or idea out is kind of like Googling a generic word, and trying to find a specific article that uses it once. In addition to my memory problems, I struggle to listen to people sometimes, which makes talking to people very interesting. I’ll be trying to process what the person said, trying to think of a response to that, while trying not to say something stupid, but then I get an idea for a movie that derails the whole train of thought and I’m back to nothing. This has lead me to just say the first thing that comes into my head which, 90% of the time, is not something related to the original topic. On top of that whole basket of fun, I don’t take criticism as well as I could, not because I care what other people think, but because I’ll take that criticism and look at it objectively and overthink the problem until it either goes away, or gets much worse. In the end, I don’t have any choice but to learn as much about ADHD as I can, and to be the best me I can be.

If you get to this part: thank you. Another fun side effect is the inability to control my rambling, and failure to stick to one central point. If this resonated with you, you probably either read the whole thing in 2 minutes, skipped to the end to see what was there, or just completely skimmed it and have no idea what was said. I’ve done all three, there’s no shame in it, do what you can. You’ll be fine, just keep doing what you’re doing and try to be better today than yesterday. You’ll be OK.