Category Archives: I Suck

Self-Esteem Sucks: The Challenge of Self-Acceptance

My grand plan upon realizing I have self-esteem issues while reading The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden was to read the book, understand the book, and to internalize what it was saying. To take the book and make what it was staying part of my being. The more detailed plan was to go through each one of his pillars one-by-one and discover which ones I needed to work on. The book argues that self-esteem is constructed upon six “pillars” — fundamental areas that need to be developed for self-esteem to thrive — and that lacking strength in any pillar can weaken the entire foundation of self-esteem. It shouldn’t be too hard to go through each one logically and discover which ones were problematic for me.

I’m about half-way through the pillars and so far I’ve identified one area that I’m sorely lacking in: self-acceptance. The first pillar is living consciously and I’m pretty proud of myself in that area. Summing that one up in a terrible way: be aware of the moment you’re in. Be receptive of information. Be open and accepting of the world. Shit like that. The third pillar is of self-responsibility: you are responsible for yourself. There are certain people that love to blame others for their problems, and while other people can cause problems for you, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t your responsibility to fix. I’ve heard somewhere (with regards to mental health but it applies to everything) something like this, “It might not be your fault, but it’s your responsibility.” Consider this shitty scenario. You get a divorce and your ex has taken everything from you. It’s a shitty situation right? While you might be perfectly innocent in the matter, you still need to act in favor of yourself and your happiness. In short, you are responsible for you.

You might’ve noticed I skipped the second pillar and that’s because it is the topic of this post. The second pillar is self-acceptance. Upon initially reading the chapter I thought it would be another pillar to mostly ignore: I already accepted myself about as well as I knew how to. Seriously. This was mostly because the first half of the chapter talked mostly about accepting your flaws, which I’m assuming most people are terrible at because of how much the author had written about it. This covered things such as admitting when you’re wrong and admitting that you’re not perfect. Owning your flaws and mistakes. And guess what? I’m amazing at that! I’m constantly thinking I’m wrong (but also feeling that I’m probably right but not wanting to come across as cocky or something), I’m always open to critique, and so on. In short I am very open and accepting of my flaws.

But then the book totally beat the shit out of me over something that’s very similar to admitting your flaws: to be self-accepting is to also accept the good things about yourself. If you’re going to own all of the bad shit about yourself, you also need to accept the good things about yourself as well. This makes perfect sense if the goal is to have perfectly honest self-acceptance. And holy fuck if that didn’t hit me like a ton of bricks.

You don’t have to, but go check out my post about self-esteem and writing. I love to use that as my go-to example because it writhes in its lack of self-esteem. It’s so brutally honest it’s amazing to use as an example. In that post I wrote about how when I receive positive feedback with my writing it must be a fluke or a mistake like I accidentally wrote something good. Something about putting enough monkeys in a room with typewriters and eventually one will write Shakespeare. I attribute any and all success I achieve to luck or chance. But when my posts don’t get positive feedback it is something that resonates with me. Those are the facts for me, the clear signs that I’m a failure as a writer. It’s classic “disown the good” and “accept the bad” which is not accepting yourself fully and openly.

Self-acceptance means owning the shit out of the good. But that is scary to someone with little to no self-esteem. It’s easy to admit skill in areas that don’t matter: I’m good at driving, I’m good at hanging blinds, I’m a decent cook, but am I a decent writer? Really? Am I scared of being good? Yeah, kinda, but so what? What the hell am I writing for if not to be good? There is a disconnect between the blogger/writer who consistently writes but doesn’t actually think they’re good at it. If I thought I wasn’t good on some level why would I be writing in the first place? Most people don’t do thing that they know they’re awful at (besides golf for some reason). Something in me believes that I have something special otherwise I wouldn’t be writing. It’s only on the conscious (or subconscious?) level that I think I suck.

I rambled a bit, but apply this line of thinking to yourself. Are you perfectly accepting of your skills and abilities? Do you disown everything good you do as an accident or believe that “it wasn’t that difficult…”? Are you scared of actually being successful? And do you own, personify, and internalize your failures over your success? Are you defined by your flaws and shortcomings? You are one total and complete package — the good along with the bad — and they each need to be accepted together. Feel free to admit that you’re good at painting, writing, blogging, or whatever it is that you do. It doesn’t mean that you close yourself off to actual critique and criticism, but don’t let yourself become identified by your failures. Self-acceptance kinda sucks, until you learn to do it properly. And then I suppose it’s awesome.

(Fixing Your) Self-Esteem Sucks

I’ve been trying to churn out a meaningful post about something, anything for the past week. Sure I got out the therapy post, and the bullshit Halloween post, but those seem like more of the low-effort stuff that I try to stay away from. The problem isn’t that I don’t have anything to write about; the problem is that I have too much to write about. I’d say there are about 5-7 topics floating around in my head and they all seem interconnected and interweaved that I can’t write about one without it bleeding into the other topics. One rant would turn into another rant and eventually I fear I’d have a giant, rambly mess about a multitude of things without saying much about anything in particular.

I want to write about anxiety. I want to write about enlightenment. I want to write about impermanence and how I (we?) naturally despise impermanence. I want to write about video games and how they’re a form of avoidance. I want to write about drinking/not drinking. I want to write about depression. The challenge of seeing a therapist. I want to write about love, friendship, loss, and new beginnings. I want to write about life.

I also want to write about self-esteem. And I’m going to try to do that here. It is one of the interwoven topics tied to depression, drinking, and writing but seems to be the most separate topic that I might be able to make progress on. The fact is I’ve already written about self-esteem, but it was mostly in regards to writing. I have no self-esteem in regards to writing, nothing else, or so I thought. But once again things that are terribly obvious to everyone else can be a mystery to yourself as if the safest place to hide is within your own self-ignorance. I did have an idea though. I read through a few of my past posts: the self-esteem post, the Stardew Valley post, and a bunch of other posts pretending to be a detective looking for clue to the true state of my mind. It hit me hard when I realized it: I have zero self-esteem. It’s everywhere in my writings. Shit.

What I realized was that I could take my self-esteem post and slightly change it to be about any situation and it would fit. It accurately described how I felt about life in general if I just changed a few of the subjects. Here, here’s an example tweaked and edited to be about talking to people and making friends. It’s the exact same mindset though. Also note how the second paragraph needed minimal editing because shitting all over yourself is a pretty general thing to do.

Naturally, I started thinking I would fail from the start, which is a big red flag in terms of self-confidence that also should’ve been apparent. Surprisingly, after posting the first few chapters going out of my way to talk to people I had tons of positive feedback. I was shocked. Some people would ask me if they could be in my stories strike up a conversation with me. Others gave feedback in the form of blog/Facebook post likes and comments positive social cues such as laughing, smiling, and appearing at ease. I mean why would people like and comment act like that if they didn’t like the work fundamentally disliked me as a person? Would people really do that to feign support? And one of the best signs of not sucking was when one of my “fans” “friends” (she called herself that. I’d never call people who read my stuff “fans” talked to me a “friend” because I don’t know if they feel that way about me) mentioned to someone else that I was a good writer person. You don’t recommend stuff you hate to other people talk positively about people you hate to other people. Overwhelmed with actual positive feedback, I was set right? Free to write socialize with all the confidence I needed to push through chapter after chapter and finish a book conversation after conversation and have actual friends. It sounded like my plan was a soaring success.

OF FUCKING COURSE NOT! The plan was a miserable failure. What would happen was a wildly successful post conversation would be followed by a not-as-successful post conversation and instantly my brain would conjure up reasons for everything successful to be a fluke to be a lie. Just me getting lucky for some reason or another. No, success was never from actual skill. Failure is my natural state, and anything other than that is an accident. Maybe I just got lucky on the popular posts a few conversations? Maybe people wised up to the fact that I’m not really good at writing and all my chapters are kinda samey really a terrible and boring person and constantly talk about the same stuff. Maybe everyone dropped the facade of liking my stuff me because it was exhausting to do so.

So once you admit you lack self-esteem, then what? It’s not something you can go to the store and buy exactly.

Getting Help With Self-Esteem

Obviously seeing a therapist would probably help, but I’m still slacking with that matter at the moment. (It should be noted that I’d rather write a blog post instead of search for a therapist. It’s pretty fun when something you used to procrastinate doing becomes its own version of procrastinating something else. Productivity right?) Luckily my supervisor is the most intuitive person to ever exist. While struggling with my lack of self-esteem and the fact of it over the weekend, I went into work to be greeted by her handing me a book. The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden. Holy shit. Was it that obvious to everyone else? This situation sounds like something that would happen in a story or a movie where one of the characters is going through some shit and another character hands/tells him/her the exact thing they need to assist them in their problem. I’m not making this up either. It’s like the universe is trying to tell me something and is working directly through her. And who am I to gripe about how the universe does its shit? I lack self-esteem not intelligence. I can take the hint.

The introduction to the book stressed the importance of self-esteem and how it underlies everything about mental health. If you have self-esteem issues they’re likely to bleed into other areas and can attribute to anxiety, depression, substance abuse, etc. The book, not being too cocky about itself, also stressed that self-esteem isn’t a fix-all solution to every problem; there can be serious mental health issues in people with high self-esteem. Luckily for me, self-esteem does seem to be my main problem. It does seem like the fix-all for me, although I’m weary of falling into that mindset lest it be wrong. Even if it isn’t my main issue, it sure is up there in importance.

So for the past week I’ve made a dedicated effort to read the book, process what the book is saying, and to incorporate it into my life. And it’s been working wonderfully so far! There still does seem to be some underlying depression that exists outside of my self-esteem issues, but it’s far less threatening than how I’ve been feeling in the past month or two.

I was going to continue this post, but I think I should break things up. It’s just a really big topic. I’m writing a blog post here, not a fucking book. My “self-esteem journey” seems like it’ll be an interesting process and a few other posts might sprout out of the journey. Why try to cram it all here? In closing: I have self-esteem issues. These issues might be my main problem that needs to be fixed. I’m going to make a dedicated effort to improve my self-esteem. And you’re welcome to come along for the journey!

Stupidity Sucks (and What it Feels Like to Be Stupid)

Stupid: slow of mind; given to unintelligent decisions or acts, acting in an unintelligent or careless manner; lacking intelligence or reason”

-The Damn Dictionary (Merriam-Webster if you’re being appropriate)

This article right here sums up a fascinating phenomena: most people think they’re above average. Most people think they’re good drivers. Most people think they’re smarter than average. Most people think they’re more attractive than average. And so on. This doesn’t sound too bad at first, but once you consider the meaning of the word “average” it becomes much more interesting. Average, in terms of whatever you’re talking about, would be in the exact middle: 50% of people are below average and 50% of people are above average. So why, as the article says, 95% of professors think they’re better than their peers. And, as I’ll get to, why do some people think they have a higher-than-average musical insight when they’re clearly stupid?

I don’t really want to get into the why here because the article and all the information it links to should illuminate why. Given information like this I usually turn to introspection: I’m obviously guilty of this in some form (if I thought I was an exception to this then I’d be putting myself above average in regards to not placing myself above average) but am I even aware of it? Are there certain things I’m awful at that I think I’m good at? Objectively? And more importantly, what does this feel like, the inability to gauge your actual abilities? The main question I’m trying to get at is (even though skill and intelligence aren’t the exact same thing), “What does it feel like to be stupid?”

One way to discover how you’re stupid is to find someone or something that makes you feel stupid. Luckily, I know a few of these people and it’s amazing to feel stupid! I think the key is to find a topic that you want to be knowledgeable with and have someone blow you out of the water with their depth of knowledge and mode of thinking. It has to be a shared interest too: I can talk to a sports fan and not know anything they’re talking about but this doesn’t necessarily make me stupid because I don’t care about the knowledge in the first place. Perhaps if I wanted to, I could be wiser than they are on the topic of sports, but that doesn’t make me smart or stupid. That’s just ignorance.

A few people allow me to feel stupid in something I’ve always been passionate about and think thought I was intelligent in: music. I’ve always liked music (but what soulless creature doesn’t like music?) and thought I could “read between the lines” and see things the artist meant to convey — or didn’t intend to convey — and appreciate the complexities of the music in a way most people couldn’t: I’m smarter than the average person when it comes to musical comprehension. At least that’s what I thought two months ago.

After our work shift a few of us began hanging out and listening to music. Led by my supervisor’s supervisor (I’m not sure how else to explain this without explaining the hierarchy of my workplace), he would allow two or three of us regular employees to ride around in his work-provided Chevy Malibu. Sometimes our immediate supervisor would also join us. We would just aimlessly drive around property and listen to the music he selected for us. Most of these songs pieces were well outside of my comfort range by default. I’m talking classical music, I’m talking choral music, I’m talking strange chanting music that made me feel like I was having a panic attack: everything from Brahms to some dude with a guitar from Canada. Let’s also not forget Tom motherfucking Waits who is apparently a musical and lyrical genius whom I never appreciated before.

It wasn’t just this wide range of music that made me feel dumb: it was also his interpretations of the songs. It was his depth of insight in regards to the music, lyrics, instrumentation, song structure, etc. He would walk us through a song and tell us what the song meant to him and how everything supported his perspective. This would also involve body language as well. Well into a song and without saying a word he would toss his arms up in total amazement at something in the song. He’d shake his head as if thinking, “There is no way this music can be this good!” Sometimes the rest of us could understand what had blown his mind away, but other times there was nothing obvious about what had inspired him so, his mind seemingly making connections between music and self without any explanation. I would always smile at his musical enthusiasm. Here was a guy so taken away by the music he could barely contain his emotions and it was something to admire.

Here’s a specific example: “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts 1-5)”. The first song on Pink Floyd’s album Wish You Were Here. (This the example I went with because I assume most people are aware of the band Pink Floyd, and so might be aware of the song “Wish You Were Here,” and hence the album it came from, Wish You Were Here, and might’ve possibly came across “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Pts. 1-5)”!) I like Wish You Were Here, but it wasn’t ever my favorite Floyd album. I’m more a Dark Side of the Moon guy myself (I find the album “Speaks to Me” and allows me to “Breathe (In the Air)” to make a really shitty pun…), but he totally sold the song — and the entire album — to me! I now have a greater appreciation for Wish You Were Here.

I’ll try to paraphrase how he explained the song to us: he pointed out the guitar around the 4:30 minute mark was “screaming in pain” about something, and how the part that came after it (6:30ish) had the exact same notes but were much more passive, as if the guitar had sort of accepted the pain of whatever and was okay with it. Like if you had enough pain in life you adapt; it becomes a background type of pain that you deal with and accept and it simply becomes a part of you. Still pain, but pain you don’t even acknowledge. Something about how no matter what your talent is (in regards to Syd Barrett here) the machine (the world itself, society, etc.) will still chew you up, spit you out, and incorporate your talent into itself. It’ll steal your gifts, trivialize them, and ruin what was so special about you in the first place. Elaborations on being blown by the steel breeze and eventually riding the steel breeze: what did all of that mean? Was it about growing older? Or being cruelly carved by the world around you? Losing the innocence of your childhood, how your dreams betray you, and about twenty or thirty other layers of understanding that were mostly invisible to me.

This was basically me:

So bombarded with all of this high-level elaboration on a song I’ve heard countless times while never piecing any of it together or thinking deeply about it all was making me feel rather stupid. Luckily I was able to give some preschooler-tier wisdom about how “Wish You Were Here” fades into “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Pts. 6-9)”: maybe the wind at the beginning of the song was depicting the steel breeze itself! Teeheehee! I felt like a kid telling Einstein that space was big and dark or something after he elaborated on General Relativity. Just pointing out what was already obvious to everybody. I was reading preschool picture books and this fucking dude was reading The Odyssey. I clearly felt stupid, but not only that, I felt the feeling of being stupid.

I suppose by feeling stupid you see what is possible, how deep your understanding can go if only you could ever make it to that level. You understand that your knowledge hasn’t peaked and that you still have a massive mountain to climb, especially with music: I’ve always viewed music as the most intuitive and easily understood art because it is so basic and visceral to the human mind. We all know how songs can remind us of seasons, people, events, and we attach memories to music firmly as opposed to other arts. (The only exception is smell: smells seem to be a direct link to past memories. I can smell a certain perfume and it will instantly remind me of making out with a certain girl at a high school party, as awful as that is.) Music is intuitive. Music is visceral. Music is something that happens deep within a person. Music is universal. I guess I’m saying that music should be relatively easy to understand and here I am feeling stupid over that. So now I feel immensely stupid.

I find that being stupid doesn’t feel like stupidity though. To me it feels like laziness. In my mind I know that if I wanted to understand “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” with the depth of understanding that my supervisor’s supervisor does I could understand it; it’s just that I don’t really want to right now. It’s work. I don’t feel like doing work. There’s other songs I’m listening to and other bands, and well, I don’t have the time. Analyzing something like that requires me to look up the lyrics and process the music along with the words. Ugh. While I know that I can, I don’t want to. That’s what being stupid feels like. It feels like laziness. I can do it, I just don’t want to.

This makes me ask the question if stupidity only feels like laziness or if they’re actually the same thing. Maybe that’s all stupidity is: you just don’t want to make the effort to understand something even if you are perfectly capable of it. Or maybe stupidity feels like laziness only so your brain can further let you believe you’re not actually stupid, you’re just lazy! Like a fancy form of confirmation bias. To really hit the point home, I’m going to end this post right here. Right on the verge of possibly making some deep connection between stupidity and laziness, intelligence and effort, I’m going to wrap it up. It sounds too complicated. It’s too much to think about right now. Maybe I’ll think about it later. I’m probably ranting anyways. I can always write about the topic later. I think I did good enough here anyways. But I’m not stupid though…

(A Lack of) Self-Esteem Sucks

When you first begin to write you learn a lot about yourself. Certain themes and plotlines seem to appear and I know it points to something within my subconscious. Sure you can purposefully have a theme to a story, but sometimes things just appear that makes you think “Why do I keep writing about that topic?” Another thing I’ve learned over the past few months is that I have little to no self-esteem and lack confidence in my writings. It is so damn clear to me now that I’ve wondered how I was in denial about it for so long. No matter what sort of feedback I get on my writing the truth is clear: In my mind I still suck at writing. And to me I’m horrible at it.

My grand plan (if you could call it that) was to post short stories and chapters on my old blog, which was repurposed for its new mission. The idea was to get some feedback on what I was writing and to snowball that into self-confidence going forward. If I had enough people — ya know like five or ten — tell me my stuff wasn’t total trash I would have enough validation to continue writing. Just a handful of support and I could channel that into pure confidence going forward. I could hold onto it as a cherished gift and always have this initial support to fall back on in times of need. I imagine the established author who has sold over a million books: this person will never run out of confidence because they have that shining badge that they can always look towards as proof that they’re actually good at what they do. A little feedback would serve to be my shining badge in a way. Or so I thought.

Naturally, I started thinking I would fail from the start, which is a big red flag in terms of self-confidence that also should’ve been apparent. Surprisingly, after posting the first few chapters I had tons of positive feedback. I was shocked. Some people would ask me if they could be in my stories. Others gave feedback in the form of blog/Facebook post likes and comments. I mean why would people like and comment if they didn’t like the work? Would people really do that to feign support? And one of the best signs of not sucking was when one of my “fans” (she called herself that. I’d never call people who read my stuff “fans”) mentioned to someone else that I was a good writer. You don’t recommend stuff you hate to other people. Overwhelmed with actual positive feedback, I was set right? Free to write with all the confidence I needed to push through chapter after chapter and finish a book. It sounded like my plan was a soaring success.

OF FUCKING COURSE NOT! The plan was a miserable failure. What would happen was a wildly successful post would be followed by a not-as-successful post and instantly my brain would conjure up reasons for everything successful to be a fluke. Just me getting lucky for some reason or another. No, success was never from actual skill. Failure is my natural state, and anything other than that is an accident. Maybe I just got lucky on the popular posts? Maybe people wised up to the fact that I’m not really good at writing and all my chapters are kinda samey? Maybe everyone dropped the facade of liking my stuff because it was exhausting to do so.

I try to be humble, but I feel walking the fine line between ego and being humble is difficult to do. I find myself erring on the side of caution by being humble and have always taken solace in that. Maybe I’ve gone too far? Maybe in trying to not be too cocky or egotistical, I’ve went to far in the opposite direction? Either way, being cocky and being confident two wildly different things. Is it that hard to be confident and humble? This doesn’t seem like a slippery slope to cockiness.

Just as an experiment, let me try to actually be confident for a moment, to try to weigh the positives and the negatives together. Once again, this isn’t meant to be a cocky “Haha, look at how good of a writer I am!” ego stroker. I just want to see if I can hype myself up for a few sentences. Maybe make a case for myself not being shit.

  • This blog has about 600 views per month. These views are growing. When I first started blogging I was happy to get 5 views in a month. This means I’m doing something right.
  • One of my college English instructors loved my papers, even using me as an example to the class a few times. She pointed out that I always asked questions as I wrote, kinda prompting the reader to think about things as well.
  • Another English instructor suggested I go into technical writing because my research paper was so goddamn awesome apparently.
  • I won two seperate writing awards in college. Not being a writer I decided to YOLO a few submissions and took third and second place. I won $50 from writing an essay about what college meant to me. I hammed that essay up so much. It was the first money I’ve earned from writing. The other award wasn’t very rewarding: I had to read that essay (about improving our community) aloud in front of like fifty people.
  • I’ve self-published two ebooks on Amazon (blog post about that mess here) that have netted me a whopping $0.11 $0.60 in royalty payments. Woah!
  • Someone mentioned that my writings sound very “conversational” as if I’m actually having a talk with someone. That’s good, right?
  • A few coworkers have used my posts as a springboard to their own thinking and writings (the enlightenment post) and have told me their own thoughts on it. That means they had to get something useful from it, right?
  • Lastly, the general positive feedback from people who have read my stuff.

So now why do I suck? Is there any concrete reasons to suspect sucking?

  • I’m not wildly successful. I haven’t sold thousands of books yet.
  • Other people’s blogs are more popular.
  • My past few chapters haven’t had any positive feedback on them.
  • And. That’s it.
  • This isn’t a long list…
  • *thinking very hard*
  • *shrugs*

(Big Note here on how my negative points arise from comparing myself to other people. I obviously know this is a mistake but do it anyways. Oof.)

Thinking about this as objectively as possible leads me to believe that, hey, maybe I don’t fucking suck at all. But my brain doesn’t work this way! Even after typing all of the positives I have to look back on I only felt better for about ten minutes before feeling awful again. Brains are emotional things, and I’m apparently an emotional person. None of this shit matters because somehow a thought randomly appears in my mind that makes me think I’m terrible at writing. It doesn’t even take negative feedback: my brain can tear itself down all on its own! It’s a superpower I didn’t want but am somehow stuck with.

So this isn’t such a whiny post, are there ways to have a little more confidence in regards to writing? Firstly I should probably not worry so much about viewers/likes/numbers. I’ve recently read a blog post stressing this same point. (Vee over at Millenium Life Crisis always has great and informative content.) Secondly, stop worrying about beating the mythical “other people” because all that matters is your own progress. Maybe I can internalize that if I try hard enough. Another thing that sort of helps seems to be reflecting on the past; those 600 views a month sure mean something, and if I put myself in my past frame-of-mind I find myself thankful and proud of the progress I’ve made. Lastly, just keep writing! Even if I do feel like I suck, that doesn’t mean I have to give up. Ya know, progress forward just to make progress.

Closing Note: If it wasn’t obvious, I’m not trying to farm approval or validation with this post. If that isn’t clear I fucked up somewhere. The point wasn’t to whine until people came to support me, but to point out the clear issue of me lacking confidence. It’s a problem I really need to work on. If you did like this post, great! I won’t turn down feedback in any form. But I’m not trying to get a pity-party going on here either.

Writing Kinda Sucks

“…I’ve always considered writing the most hateful kind of work.”

Hunter S. Thompson

I think when we pick up any new hobby or interest we only see the positives. We see the glory of it — the big picture of it all. As a painter you imagine relaxing at home and just creating beautiful artwork. Or the pianist sitting at their instrument creating interesting and wonderful music. Or the author, bringing magical worlds to life that only exist on paper and in the imagination of your readers. You dream of actually making it by publishing your books, selling your artwork, or ending up in a successful band, etc. When we undertake a new goal or hobby we rightfully only see the good because it’s where we want to be in our lives. But to get to the good you have to toil away with the total bullshit that no one talks about.

Prospective writers and authors also have their own fantasy: sitting at a desk with a cup of coffee and a dog in the corner/cat in your lap while you let your imagination run wild with ideas that you effortlessly slap down on paper/PC/typewriter/whatever the fuck you’re using. Anyone who has even attempted writing will instantly know this is bullshit. No one idolizes the times where you’re staring at your computer at 11 p.m. and while wanting to write something realizing that you have no idea for what to actually write. Or maybe you have an idea but it doesn’t come out right and you can’t get into a flow. There’s also the opposite problem like with me right now: awake at 2 a.m. suddenly finding yourself inspired to write a blog post about writing. The idea just appears out of the ether and you gotta grab the inspiration before it disappears.

I always thought writing was easy. It’s not that it’s hard like math is hard; it’s a different sort of difficult. I was always the type of person to procrastinate school papers until the night before they were due and knocked them out in a few hours of furious typing; I’d always get good grades by doing this too. Maybe this is where I got the “writing is easy” idea from, and I know for a fact it’s where I got my dreadful procrastination from. (Why plan anything out when you can knock it out in a few frightful hours?!) But writing isn’t easy. Let me walk you through a typical writing process for me. I’m assuming everyone else has similar issues and the more we write the more we learn to manage and minimize these pain-in-the-ass traits that writing entails.

Inspiration

This sounds stupid, but you need to have something to write about before you write. You need a story idea or a blog post idea or something. Once again this was never a problem in high school or college when people told you what to write. Now that you’re doing this on your own you need to figure out your own ideas. These ideas almost have to accidentally come to you and this is frustrating, especially in regards to blogging. We all know that frequently posting is a good idea, but you also need ideas for your posts. You end up torn between spam-posting low quality stuff day-after-day or postponing things for so long that you appear to be unreliable. It’s a pain in the ass.

It’s even worse for fiction writing as you need to conjure up characters, a plot, themes, and whatever else, and as I mentioned earlier you can’t seem to force this part. You can’t sit down and force yourself to write a good story with no plot in mind. You have to sit around and brainstorm and hope something good comes along. Even so, this isn’t an invitation to procrastinate in terms of perfection: you still need to get off your ass and write! It sounds contradictory huh?

The Writing

After you have an idea you can get to work on it. This is the actual fun part of writing where you can let your ideas run wild. Writing is the transformation of ideas into concrete words and sentences that other people can enjoy. It’s timeless and romantic and amazing to do when you get in the zone. You’re literally creating new worlds that have never been created! Bringing into existence people, creatures, and things that have never existed outside of your mind! It’s amazing! Sometimes you start typing and are surprised with what you’ve written, as if the ideas materialized out of thin air. What you write might be fantastically good, or shine light on some subconscious workings of your mind that you’re not even aware of. It’s this part of writing that is the most addictive. This is what I love about writing.

The Editing

For fucks sake this part is awful. I worked for hours day-after-day to finally edit my two ebooks and it wasn’t enjoyable at all. This is the part of the writing process where you take your random, rough, and rambling writings and clean the things up. You’re hunting around for grammatical errors, factual errors, spelling errors, and any other errors imaginable. For fictional stories you’re also making sure the characters’ names and jobs are consistent and that everything makes sense. I realized in one one of my stories that a character was terribly inconsistent in two of the chapters he’s in and it’s something that needs to be fixed. Sometimes you need to move paragraphs and chapters around or even delete the damn things. Sometimes you find irrelevant trash that you have no idea how it ended up in the work in the first place. Chapters about nothing in particular. This step is tedious, boring, time consuming and all around awful.

The End

Somehow if you pull all of this shit together you will have a finished product, be it a story, a novel, a blog post, or even a fancy self-help instructional guide. Whatever. And this is what makes it all worth it I suppose. When you can feel good for sitting through some not-very-fun bullshit to actually create something. When you’ve suffered through all of the difficult and tedious shit long enough to have something to show to others and something that you can be proud of. It doesn’t even matter if what you’ve created is trash because at least you’ve created something. How many countless others have wanted to create something but never got around to doing so? How many people fail before they even start?

But Not the End

Oh yeah, even once you have a finished product on your hands you’re still not finished with the process yet. The more I’ve been writing the more I’ve realized about the other shitty demon involved with trying to be an author: self-promotion. I’m also terrible at it. The fact is even if you wrote a masterpiece no one will buy it or even know about it if you don’t promote yourself. This involves goofy terms like “networking” and “advertising” and “getting yourself out there” and a few other nebulous terms that I despise while not being able to think of them right this moment. Let’s not forget the bloggers’ “SEO” stuff too!

As a side rant I’ve seen this problem mostly with MLM-Facebookers trying to pedal their wraps, diet pills, CBD oils, etc. These people try to sell products to their friends and family first without realizing that they can’t limp by selling products only to them. It’s the same with being an author: even if you have five or ten friends/family that love your writings they cannot support you completely. You can’t be a successful artist if only those people are purchasing your products. You need to branch out and find other customers!

I also think this is antithetical the the stereotypical writer as well, at least for me it is: I’m a person that likes to stay inside my head and someone who has confidence issues. A classic introvert I am. I really do think my writing isn’t good enough for people to actually want to read and am constantly surprised when I hear positive feedback on it. Obviously I’m terrible at self-promotion. It always comes across as begging or cringy when I try to get new people to read my writings. It’s hard to do. I wish I could ignore the self-promotion aspect of writing but it seems to go hand in hand with it. You simply can’t git gud at writing where everyone magically loves you. You need to put yourself out there for people to find you in the first place.

As a general closing note here: writing generally takes a long time! It takes much longer than you’d expect it to take. Consider this blog post: it’s only about twelve paragraphs long so take a guess how long I worked on it? I wrote it in 20 or 30 minutes, and have been editing/proofreading it for about an hour and a half (!!!). I also need to add tags to it, make a banner for it, proofread it again and then post it. In total I’d say this post — which is a total low-effort “quick” post — took a total of two to three hours from start to finish. Writing kinda sucks.

Enlightenment Sucks (Part 1 of ?)

I’m pretty much a closeted Buddhist. I say closeted because I’m not really good at being a Buddhist; I’ve never been to a temple and I’ve never actually done anything extremely “Buddhist” whatever the fuck that means. I also have a blog where I write “fuck” alot, complain about everything, and seem to hate all sorts of shit: this also doesn’t sound very Buddhist of me. But I do have the mindset that favors introspection, curiosity, understanding, and being at peace with the world and find the “religion” (if you want to call it that) to be very appealing. Buddhism just kinda clicks with me I guess.

Buddhism doesn’t attempt to place universal blame on some entity for suffering or salvation on someone else’s back: everything seems to be solely up to you. While Christianity seems hell-bent (pun!) on saving your soul through Jesus Christ, Buddhism seems to be focused on saving your ass from yourself. To prevent you from making your own life miserable. And instead of some holy figure to guide you, you’re given the Buddha: some dude who figured out the way to be enlightened. That’s about it. He himself wasn’t actually special or anything: he just figured it out. Life is about finding enlightenment and that’s it. Because, according to Buddhism, the only problem with your life is your mindset. Life isn’t fucked up: it’s your view of life that is fucked up.

What is enlightenment exactly? Buddhism seems to define this as being “aware of how things are” and in a slightly different aspect of it “happy” or at least “okay” with how things are. Buddha didn’t become a saint or do anything magical; he was just a guy who figured shit out and was at peace. This is cool because if some random dude in India figured shit out, then so can you! I suppose at the end of the day — and maybe everyone feels this way — I have the same goal: I want to have a deep and fundamental understanding of existence and be at peace with it. Even if something shitty happens to me I want to be able to back up, view the event from an outside perspective, and be “happy” or “okay” about it in some form or another. This is what enlightenment is, at least to me. It’s kinda hard to put into words really.

The problem arises because I’m fucking terrible about being happy and thankful with the current state of the world! As much as I idealize this idea of enlightenment I’m actually awful at placing it into action: I’m an angry and pissy person and it’s hard for me to see any positives in anything that actually happens. My own personality, while liking the idea of being enlightened, seems to be diametrically opposed to it.

Here’s an example. I was out on the porch drinking just being in the moment and while not purposefully meditating I was still in the zone so to speak. It was like a form of passive meditation. There were kittens outside playing and I was simply sitting there, watching them, totally at peace with the world. Life was good. I would assume that Eastern philosophy and Buddhism would refer to this moment as “enlightenment” (especially Zen as this moment was a kinda “aha! I get it!” moment) and while I didn’t ascend to a higher plane or have any deep insights I was at peace with the world (which is the deep insight really) and totally okay and accepting of anything in it.

But apparently not. Because that’s when the neighbor lady showed up.

She came outside and started trying to call one of the kittens over. We named him “Rain” which is a pretty fucking stupid name anyways, but apparently she had named him “Cutie” which is another level of stupid. So there I was, peaceful, buzzed, and in the Buddhist-Zone when this lady starts yelling in a loving, motherly voice but with the tone of pure nails-on-chalkboard, “Cutie! Cutie! Where are you, Cutie?! Come here kittykittykittykittykittykittykittykitty !”

“It’s an older meme, sir, but it checks out.”

I about lost my shit. It wasn’t as if this slowly wore my mood down over time — no — as soon as she started screeching at the cat my blood instantly started to boil. My pulse and blood pressure notably skyrocketed. My peace, love, happiness, and understanding instantly disappeared in a fiery moment of pure hatred towards this other person. Another being in the universe having the same experiences and troubles as me? My ass. This lady was totally ruining my goddamn peace love and happiness! Didn’t she realize how utterly fucking annoying she was? Didn’t she realize that you can’t force a cat to love you? Didn’t she understand that the kittens were playing and didn’t give a fuck about anything she was screeching about?

(Insight Note: You can’t force a cat to love you. They’re passive beings that love doing their own thing. The kittens had more love for me passively sitting there and not bothering them than they did for the overly aggressive lady that wanted the kittens to love her. Cats have to love you on their own terms. I put myself out there to be loved by the kittens, but at the end of the day I try to leave them alone until they’re accepting of me. This is also true of people. WOAH. 3deep5u.)

Obviously this wasn’t a very cash-money Buddhist way of feeling, and I almost feel bad about these intrusive thoughts. Almost. The thing about meditation is it makes me happy and when this happiness is interrupted I get angry, usually way too angry for the situation. It’s really frustrating because I’m obviously not at the “peace, love, and acceptance” level where I can deal with incidents like these. I’m still horribly flawed even if I do have glimpses of enlightenment and peace and this makes things even more frustrating.

The Buddha when I lost my peace thanks to Neighbor Lady.

And it’s times like that where I think I’m not cut out to be enlightened or at peace in life. I’m just not worthy of it. Im kinda a jackass. I talk shit about some of my coworkers and while my supervisor is a very peaceful, loving, and “everyone has their own story and struggle and you shouldn’t judge them” type of person, I can’t seem to not shit all over people for doing the smallest thing wrong. I understand what she’s getting at, but can’t convince myself to feel that way even if I do think that way. I’m a goddamn dirtbag! While on the surface I understand that people have their own struggles and so on, I still can’t put that into practice and, ya know, be a good person.

In fact I’ve almost started embracing my dickishness. When I’m at the store I openly cuss in front of children. I scowl as people that stand in my way. I’m petty and bitter and love saying “I told you so” when I’m proven right. I don’t go out of my way to make people miserable (I’m not “Karen” asking to talk to your manager) but if I’m pissed-off it’s hard to hide it. I’m all for self-improvement and think everyone should try to fix their flaws, but at the same time I think everyone needs to be themselves, which makes zero sense really. It pisses me off when I see Facebook posts saying something like “If you can’t handle me at my worst you don’t deserve me at my best.” It sounds like justification for being a terrible person. I want to not be a terrible person but I also want to accept myself as-is, even if I apparently am kinda a dick. It’s confusing and contradictory.

As much as I’m into the Buddhist theory and mindset, I’m apparently fucking terrible at putting it into practice. While I like the idea of enlightenment, I realize that I’m not the type of person to actually be enlightened. Something is always pissing me off (which is nice when you have a blog called Everything Sucks I guess) and even if I had an amazing day, I’ll still be upset by something. (“I won the lottery? Well now I’ll have to pay someone to do my taxes for me next year. Fuck.”) It’s a constant feeling of I’m not good enough and I’ll never be good enough in terms of my own peace, happiness, and well-being. Maybe I’m just not cut out to be an enlightened person.

Crickets Suck

Well, once again it’s a ridiculous time of the morning and I still haven’t been able to sleep. The current time is 6:14 a.m. I’m tired but unable to sleep. Insomnia. You know the deal.

The problem tonight today? Crickets. Yes. Crickets.

Part of the problem is that I sleep in the basement. Apparently crickets love basements. And on top of that, the basement recently flooded. Apparently crickets love moist locations. Basically I’m trying to sleep in a moist basement that is apparently a paradise to the annoying black bugs and they’re moving in as such. Damn.

Having insomnia is bad, but what makes it really shitty is how every little thing can bug the hell out of you, pun maybe intended here. It’s not necessarily that I can’t sleep, it’s that anything minor bothers me so much that I can’t sleep. Like the bed sheets don’t feel right, or it’s too hot down here, or how the crickets won’t shut the fuck up. Something minor that with nothing else to focus on your mind fixates on.

The thing people don’t realize about crickets is that they’re loud as fuck. This is obvious when you think about it; you can hear crickets outside chirping at night through the walls and windows. This isn’t really a problem, but the fact that you can still hear the bastards when they’re outside is testament to how loud they actually are.

Now imagine one or more of these black, creepy fuckers a few feet away from you while trying to sleep. They’re loud. At first you can kinda tune them out and not let their sound bother you, but as the hours pass without sleep the noise works it’s way into your conscious thought. You can’t not hear the crickets chirping. Chirp, chirp, fucking chirp. Hours upon hours. Chirp. Actually more like CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP, CCHHHIRP, CHHHIRRRPPPP.

It wouldn’t be bad if the chirps were consistent white-noise like a fan, AC, static on the radio, rain falling outside, wind blowing through trees, traffic on the nearby road, or even the high pitched buzz of a phone charger. Something that can blend into the back of your mind where your brain can tune it out. Nope. Not the fucking crickets. Sometimes these loud fuckers stop chirping only to randomly start up 5 minutes later. This instantly raises my pulse because I’ll have anxiety about how long the silence will last. These devilish bastards will be silent for 10 minutes, let out two quick chirps to get my blood pressure up, and then go back into silent mode for five more minutes. It’s like they’re purposefully tormenting me, just breaking up the chirping with silence to remind me they’re still there, not letting my brain completely tune them out.

Each cricket also has its own chirp too, like how people have different voices. Some crickets  chirp in a well defined way, a clear and rhythmic chirp, chirp, chirp, whereas the one droning on currently has a very persistent and staticy sound to him. Like a constant buzzing noise. A sort of CCCHHHHHRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. The sound could easily fade into white-noise if he’d be consistent, but he stops every now and then to remind me that he’s there. What a fucker.

A few nights ago I snapped on a cricket. One wouldn’t shut up and I started moving furniture to violently murder him with a can of Raid. I’m usually not hostile towards bugs (except mosquitos for obvious reasons: if something is trying to feed off of me they’re going to die) and I even let spiders roam the house unchallenged (at least spiders are quiet), but the cricket had to go. When I found him I angrily used way more Raid than was required. I was really upset and took it out on the poor guy. This is what anger can do to a normally passive person.

After writing this post, Facebook started giving me ads for Raid. Companies totally aren’t spying on us at all. Fuck you Google, stay outta my docs.

The one haunting me now is smartly hiding under something that is basically unmovable. At least that’s where I think he is; I can’t find him anywhere else. That’s another thing about crickets; their sound is really hard to locate. The noise has a way of scattering all over so it seems like it’s coming from everywhere all at once. You can figure out his general location, but this isn’t good enough if you’re looking to hose him down with poison. You gotta know exactly where he his. So if he isn’t around the heavy wooden chest I’m assuming he’s under the damn thing.

I didn’t think I could write an entire post about crickets, but they can go fuck themselves. I’m actually looking forward to winter when there won’t be bugs invading the basement. Maybe then I can actually get some sleep because as of now I’m just listening to these annoying bugs making loud obnoxious and inconsistent sounds. I swear any cricket I find I’m going to kill with my economy sized can of Raid with zero guilt. I don’t care. I wish death and destruction on their entire species. Fuck em.

Update: I was able to sleep after putting ear plug in my ears. Luckily I work at an airport so have ear plugs all over the house. It made sense to use them. There was another problem though: apparently when you block sound from your ears in a mostly quiet room, your brain starts to hallucinate sounds as sensory deprivation seems to do. I couldn’t hear anything but occasionally would hallucinate sounds. Unusually these were electronic beeps and boops sort of like what you’d find in old NES video games. While I didn’t hear the cricket anymore, I was terrified of my own brain making up sounds and scaring me because it had nothing else better to do. At least that problem is way more interesting than crickets chirping.