Tag Archives: Change

Christmas (and The Holidays) Sucks

Hi everyone, Merry Christmas! Well, not quite I suppose. How about Merry Christmas Eve? Maybe that’ll work since we still have a day to go.

Our family used to open presents on Christmas Eve and this day feels more like the real Christmas than the day itself. We’d go out as a family — my immediate family as well as three or four aunts/uncles along with our Grandma and Grandpa — to those shitty family restaurants that only old people seem to visit regularly. We’d have a room to the side of the main dining area to ourselves and it would soon be filled with cigarette smoke (smoking inside was legal then; what quaint times). Our eyes would burn from the toxic atmosphere, not that we knew how toxic it actually was. We’d eat our pasta with tears in our eyes, excited to finish the dinner formalities to get on with the important part of the evening, at least that’s how it was for us kids.

From there on we’d head over to Grandma and Grandpa’s to open gifts. Cigarette smoke once again filled the air, our eyes watered, and us kids would escape to the bathroom or the bedrooms to get a reprieve from the burning in our eyes. We opened our gifts from youngest to oldest; I was second after my sister. I took great pride in sorting the gifts into piles for everyone, moving them with purpose from under the Christmas tree to the piles I placed them in. As time went on I fell back a couple of ranks as my cousin had kids, but didn’t pay it much mind. The adults would sit around quietly, making small-talk and alcohol-fueled jokes as they made sure the fuel for their jokes didn’t leave their systems. It was usually wine, the ‘classy drink’ (except for Uncle Tom who only drinks Budweisers) but sometimes bottles of stronger stuff made an appearance. We didn’t notice them much in our childhood excitement over our presents.

After our gifts were opened we’d start playing with them. One year I received a Nerf bow-and-arrow and took to sniping the Christmas cards dangling from the wooden ceiling beam separating the kitchen from the living room. For some reason Grandma and Grandpa hung their slew of Christmas cards from that beam and they made perfect targets. I was maybe seven, eight, or maybe nine and this was one of the few Christmases I actually remember. And maybe one of the last that I actually enjoyed.

There was no grand Christmas tragedy, no family falling-out, nothing to steal the childish joy of Christmas from me except the passage of time itself. I got older. I became jaded. I became cynical. I lost the naivety that is the definition of childhood itself. I didn’t care about the presents as much. There wasn’t anything exciting about opening gifts. Toys weren’t fun and I could only be mildly excited about a new video game or a music CD. Christmas turned into a way to get things I needed without buying them myself. Socks, new boots, new pants and clothes; these are the things I apathetically found myself asking for year after year.

And for some reason the season holds a sense of loss for me. It’s a dull sense of loss, once again no one passed away that instantly changed the quality of Christmas, but there’s that bitter undercurrent of inevitable change and loss. The cards aren’t hung up anymore, and their numbers have dwindled over the years. Us ex-kids would sit around, drink, and wonder where all of the magic went. We didn’t go out to eat or over to Grandma’s anymore. With each branch of the family expanding, most have broken off into their own manageable sections of families, holed-up in their own homes doing their own things, making their own traditions, living their own lives. To their kids this probably feels like the Christmases at Grandma’s did to me, and the inevitably of these breaking apart in decades is…I’m not sure of the right word here. Bittersweet? That still doesn’t feel like the right word though.

Does everyone eventually lose the childish joy of Christmas? I don’t think so. One of our kids, nearly 17-years-old, still has the joy of the season like a kid would. There is zero cynicism to how she feels about the holidays so there’s at least one person immune. Whether she or I am the exception, I don’t know.

Part of my apathy from the holidays is surely due to a few life choices I’ve made. A death-blow to Holiday spirits always seems to be working retail. I almost view it as an unwritten law of the universe that once you work retail you instantly lose your love for the holidays. The Holidays mean greedy people trying to find gifts for people they’re obligated to shop for: hundreds of people shopping, dealing with traffic, hunger, lines, and the other miserable denizens trying to fulfill their societal duty to buy shit. No one seems to like it, but it’s expected so we all play along. No one wants to be the guy who doesn’t buy their family gifts out of “principle” or some other high-minded bullshit.

I worked at Sam’s Club for a few years in the produce department — not in any way directly related to Christmas shopping — and the amount of people, and shit, I had to deal with at this time of year still increased. My hatred narrowed to those making their bullshit holiday meals and involved some self-pity for why I had to deal with them in the first place. Is this person really asking me about our cranberry stock? The endless looping of Christmas music didn’t help either; it’s is a form of torture that slowly kills your soul. I’m certain any fellow retail workers would share stories with me like war veterans share with each other. I was never happier at work than I would be on December 26th when the crowds of demanding assholes magically retreated from whence they came, where that happened to be.

And now? UPS and moving packages. I’m no longer relegated to the fringe sort of hell in a produce department during the holidays, I am in the shit. Our hub apparently sorts through 400,000 packages per night. While I personally interact with a tiny fraction of these packages watching the entire process is mind-blowing. 40 airplanes land and vomit their guts of cardboard and junk into the building. Through typical human grunt work these boxes are given over to miles of rubber belts and metal chutes which some massive computer programming commands, that which I’m not near capable of understanding. After that more human grunts load the packages into giant aluminum cans to be loaded into the planes. And the planes leave, delivering these 400,000 packages across the country within four or five hours after they arrived, finely sorted to deliver their cargo to wherever it needs to go. There are hundreds of extra cars in the parking lot along with hundreds, maybe thousands, of seasonal employees that are clueless to anything work-related or common sense-related. It’s all a window into how massive the holidays are and how large the machine I’m a cog in actually is. There is no doubt the importance of this time of year to our society as a whole. Sure, you buy a few hundred dollars worth of presents each year, but seeing them all en masse is both impressive and depressing at the same time. It’s the total power and wonder of capitalism with an undercurrent of excess, waste, and pointlessness. You really have to fight off severe nihilism working at UPS this time of year and it’s much easier to blindly work than to think too hard about the state of things.

I sound like a teenager who has just figured this out. No — I have nothing to crusade against — and am only writing some thoughts that have ceased to be pointed and acute years ago, but here they are. I view the whole holiday season with only one real response now: Meh? This might be the most saddening thing. Christmas has eroded from pure childhood joy, into to teenage angst at the ‘capitalism of it all,’ and now to a passive indifference to everything: I don’t care anymore. Really. About Christmas, and celebrations, and family gatherings, and whatever other bullshit we do during this time of year. And if you do care, I hope you have a Happy Holidays, Christmas, Hanukkah, the Solstice, or whatever it is that you celebrate. And I mean that sincerely. Hold onto joy and happiness and love and kinship in whatever way and form you find it, and please have no qualms about doing so. As for me, well, I seem to be a dead soul to all the celebrations around me. Don’t mourn me though. I’ll manage this hellish time of year somehow and will be back writing my bullshit soon enough. But please enjoy this time of year: do it for me.

Lessons From Substance-Free September: Life Goes On

This is the second part of a ‘series’ where I write about what I’ve learned from Substance-Free September. The first part is here.

Another sad fact I’ve realized over the past month of being sober is that life continues on. There is no “finished” or “over” and there also seems to be no time to properly gain your bearings and figure out the best course of action. No time to take a break or reflect. Life is being stuck in an endless and problematic story where you never really get to take a step away from things and relax.

Maybe that’s just my life, but others probably feel this way too. It’s another trigger to my drinking: needing a break from life. Hell, that might be my main reason for drinking so much. It’s my way of having a few clear and foggy hours to not exist as fully as I usually do. It drowns life out to an acceptable level where I seem to be able to deal with it, until the next day that is. But that’s an easy problem to solve because you can always drink more!

Not a good idea, obviously. A friend of mine a few months ago pointed out that I feel too much, my highs are really high and my lows are supremely low. Apparently despite outward appearance I’m a highly emotional person and this friend being a very insightful person I tried to give him some credit. Sure, I didn’t see myself that way, but was he onto something?

To maybe prove this point, this friend moved away last month. People move, things change, but goddamn do I feel his absence in some way that others don’t seem too. Maybe they don’t verbalize  it (neither do I) outside of the occasional “I miss [person],” but stuck in my head I feel it differently. The fact that people always move, change, grow, decay, and that everything is temporary, everything is inevitably changing crushes my soul. I don’t like it at a visceral level. Something about it seems wrong even though it’s perfectly natural.

And this friend? He seems to be the embodiment of going with the flow and change, the total opposite of myself. I think I admire that about him. He’s the type of person who literally quit his job, embraced all the change through his own actions, and moved thousands of miles away with no guarantee that anything would actually turn out the best for him. No insecurity or hesitation about it, and the part I don’t understand, no fear of loss from leaving people behind. Leaving the memories behind. Leaving everything about your life behind for some unknown clean-slate where anything could happen, good or bad. It’s such a crazy and foreign thing to my insecure self that I just can’t comprehend how someone could go through with it.

It feels like I’m paralyzed by my emotions, hence the drinking to escape them. I used to be really depressive and have somehow managed to get better over the past six months. Still an episode of depression can be so intense that I want nothing more than to zap myself out for a while via alcohol. Strangely it’s not just the bad times I try to escape. Moments happen where something magical will happen; a good day where I see the beauty in everything and can savor every grateful second that passes. Inevitably, this feeling comes with the realization of loss. Why can’t everything remain beautiful? Why does anything ever change? Why can’t things stay in this moment forever? And obviously when that happens I can’t wait to have another drink to escape it.

So maybe I feel too much. Maybe it’s a curse, maybe it’s a gift. I recently read some story drafts I’d written and couldn’t help but see this is what I’m constantly trying to explain to my readers. I’m constantly trying to explain this bitter sense of loss, losing the entire point of life, and trying to understand the cycle of gaining and losing. Damn if I don’t have a heavy dose of loss, nostalgia, joy, and insecurity in everything I write. Everything seems to point to me feeling way too much about the smallest things in life, as if everything is a battle to find joy and survive, to appreciate those small moments when they decide to show up. Maybe it is a gift, maybe this form of suffering is a way to move forward? Maybe I’m just hopelessly bipolar or something.

See what I mean?

That was a hell of a rant. When you remove drinking as a solution there is no escape from life itself. No way to avoid the emotions. They fucking happen and it sucks. But even those are hopelessly fluid. Countless times I’ve been so happy and at peace that I want to cry, and this emotion always passes. It always fades into nothing. Countless times I’ll have a good day and try to force myself to remember the good times as clearly as possible, but I never find success…ever. You can’t remain joyful forever. The same is true for depression: the mood always changes given enough time even if you don’t realize it in the depths of it. Without fighting these emotions with alcohol I’ve learned to be clearly aware of them. Let them pass. It’s like being on a boat in the ocean; the waves pass by you, you’re up one moment and you’re down the next, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Ride the waves, let time pass, and learning to do this is nearly impossible, but you do make progress over time. No one wants to feel like shit, everyone wants to be happy, but it’s like trying to stop the earth from rotating. Find comfort in the temporary joy, and let the waves of depression wash over you. They’re equally temporary.

This has been my life the past month. Each day passes with its own joys and struggles and then…nothing. It happens again and again. A week passes. Two. Three. There is no break, this is no grand pause in drinking to reflect on it all. There is no award, trophy, or magical realization at the end to justify anything you work through. Just more…life I guess? More ups and downs. Endless emotions of ups and downs. In a way it feels like I’m slowly breaking down. I just want a break from life sometimes! Some way to not exist as fully as I seem to exist at all waking moments of the day. Is it just me? Is this how people are? Hell if I know.

There is no grand lesson in this blog post. Which kinda is the grand lesson in some strange way. Life goes on, it raises you up and lowers you like a boat on waves, and you’re nearly useless to do anything about it. Life seems to be about learning to float on the waves, dance on the highs and lows of life, where there is no respite from this dance of life. Up and down. Powerless at all times. Adrift in the ocean of life with no escape from the waves.

The next post: Lessons From Substance-Free September: The Endless Supply of Problems

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing also sometimes post stories.

Or my Facebook page where I don’t do much of anything at all, but I do appreciate more followers.

Deleting Facebook is Awesome (and Something about the Riots)

“The raging mob has lost its nerve

There’s more of us but who goes first

No one dares to cross the line

The cops know that they’ve won”

-Dead Kennedys, “Riot”

Christ, what a time to return to Facebook. I deactivated my account two weeks ago, more or less, and reactivated it Friday. Why? Because I’m trying to do the whole writing thing. In short I have my shitty author’s page on Facebook and I’m not quite sure how much traffic actually gets driven to my sites from there, especially to Wattpad. I think most traffic at this blog comes from Google search results (which is good) or WordPress itself, but nothing else seems to have that benefit. By trying to get my life and writing back into some semblance of order, well, I’d need that damn author’s page back.

I don’t have to explain much, but boy did I jump back into a total dumpster fire and was probably the worst time this year (so far!) to get back on social media. You know something has people hyped when there are countless posts about #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter with zero subtlety to the subject at hand. Sure some posts seem to realize that this is a messy situation, but there’s always the majority that are either totally for the cops or against the cops, and in turn for black people or against them, although it’d never be worded that strongly. No one says they’re ‘against black people.’ Something about rioters breaking property and that’s…well…that’s just taking things a bit too far. Fuck everything in the world right now. But before all of that let’s talk about the pros and cons of deactivating your Facebook account.

Deactivating/Deleting Facebook: How the Fuck do you Do That?!

First off, deleting your account is permanent. You cease to exist on the site and when you commit to this option, it’s final. All of your pictures, posts, and other bullshit are permanently deleted from the site with no option to get any of it back. Before you delete your account, maybe use the option to ‘download your data’ or whatever, which packages all your shit into a handy .zip file (at least that’s how it was a few years ago) so you have all your photos and such. Deactivating is also exactly what it sounds like; it’s temporary until you reactivate your account by simply logging on and your stuff still exists, it simply isn’t accessable by you or anyone else. Consider deactivating like a social media coma whereas deletion is like social media death.

Facebook naturally makes it difficult and unintuitive to deactivate/delete your account. Why? Because they want you addicted to the shit so they can rake in that fat advertisement money. In short the more people on the site the more people they have to advertise to and charge advertisers for. I don’t want to get too detailed here because I don’t even remember, but somewhere in the ‘settings’ menu you can find a tiny and hardly noticable text link that says ‘deactivate/delete your account.’ It’s not a big, fat, giant, noticable button, so hunt around until you find it.

Oh, there it is. At least on the desktop version.

It’s not over yet because Facebook still tosses a few random desperate questions at you seeing if you really want to leave the site. “Are you sure you want to deactivate your account? Think of the friends you’re leaving behind!” as if the only place to interact with people in our apocalyptic society is on Facebook. Deactivating Facebook also comes with the option to ‘automatically reactivate’ in a set time frame, if you choose to do so. No, fuck you Facebook, I’ll choose how long I want to disappear for. They also ask you why you’re leaving, as if you owe the multibillion dollar company a reason for leaving. Once again, fuck Facebook.

To reactivate your account, you simply log in. It’s way too easy and the temptation to log back in is way to high. Just be warned of this beforehand.

Another fun fact about Facebook account deactivation is that, and this is a big one for many people, Facebook Messenger still fucking works. Your actual profile is gone, you don’t have to worry about seeing peoples’ shitty social media drama and Hot Opinions, but you can still message people on the Messenger app. Go figure, right? Some people who only use Facebook for the messenger app should take note of this. There really is no downside to deactivating.

What Happens After you Leave Facebook?

In short you become happier and less burdened by the worlds troubles. I’m serious. You’re not bombarded by a constant stream of hype and outrage and in your cute little home/apartment the world almost seems not that bad. Sure, you might be aware of everything spiraling out of control but it never seems as ‘important’ as what social media would lead you to believe. It’s a kinda mild detachment from the world’s problems that, while they’re still occurring, they’re not being constantly thrown into your face about how polarized and opinionated everyone is. The power is placed on you if you want to give a damn, be an activist, or whatever.

You’ll also have a ton of free time on your hands. I don’t think any of us realize how much we lurk around on social media when we’re bored and taking this away gives you tons of free time. Sure, you’ll be bored at first and wondering what the hell you’re supposed to do, but you’ll adjust fine. It’s similar to weening yourself off a drug or alcohol, it’s hard at first and you feel kinda lost but then you get your shit back together and work through it. When bored, the temptation is always there to smash the Facebook app icon and scroll mindlessly for some length of time, and when this is gone, you’ll feel lost like you don’t know what to do with yourself. But use it to your advantage and do something to benefit your own life. Stop giving into the boredom and pissing away time on social media.

I suppose you also might get in tune with who you’re real friends and family are, not just the Facebook friends that you might believe are ‘real friends.’ I have a handful of people who I interact with regularly on the site even though I never talk to them or see them in real life. This isn’t a real friendship and is only a vague ghost of what a true friendship is like. Quarantine aside, go hang out, text, and talk to real fucking people. Ask them about their lives, their hobbies, and get to know them. Sure, you might know know what their latest Hot Opinion on [topic] is, but who gives a fuck anyways? If you’re really curious, ask them. Facebook is not real friendship.

About the Riots: Outrage on Social Media

This is a prime time to deactive/delete your account too because social media is insanely toxic right now. I try to do at least one post whenever one of these ‘social outrage’ incidents happy not because I really have much to say about it, but to rake in views. How many people are Googling ‘Riots’ and ‘Facebook‘ right now? Might as well seize the opportunity right? Something about turning lemons into lemonade. Not that blogging about people rioting, dying, and police brutality feels good or is a noble cause; no, I’ve just realized that no matter what drivel I write here will be totally useless. The only person I’m actually in control of is myself — the only thing I can ‘fix’ is my attituide on things — so I might as well make a post. God, I sound like a selfish asshole here, but hear me out.

This seems like fifth of sixth post I’ve written about the pointlessness of social media outrage, and the last one that comes to mind was my silly post about The Little Mermaid casting choice. Remember that quaint time? Despite that being relatively harmless and unimportant considering what is happening now, the same fundamentals seem to be true: solidarity between opposing groups. Simplifying arguments. Groupthink. Outrage. No subtlety except to prove your point. “Delete me if you agree with [opinion], I don’t want a friend that believes [thing].” And so on.

And…I don’t even want to think about or analyze anything right now. My mind always boils down it down to something like this: will anything ever change? Probably not. I’d love to see real change, but it never comes. Remember Trayvon Martin? Nothing happened. Remember the Parkview shootings? Nothing. Remember all the high school kids protest for real change? Remember how nothing actually happened. Remember the Las Vegas shooting? Nothing happened. Remember the one preschool that was shot up years ago? Nothing. Remember Ferguson, Missouri? Nothing. I hope you see a pattern here. Despite people being more passionate this time around, I have no hope for real change to occur and I’m actually hoping the protesters burn everything down because maybe that’s what we need to give us real, lasting change, not that I’m hopeful. Why? Nothing has changed before, why would this time be different?

Ah, there goes my pessimism again and my mind is racing. I still can’t decide if this post should be about deactivating Facebook, the riots and the bullshit social media outrage over this Hot Topic, or my reaction and pessimism to it all. Maybe it’s a good example of what I was talking about: you can obviously see how pessimistic and shitty my mood was in the last paragraph, and why is this? Because I’ve been on social media for a half week and my mood is already degrading. It’s…ah…it’s a fucking mess. I think I’m done here. There isn’t anything to say that hasn’t already been said before. Somehow I think by not saying anything I might be saying more than everyone else screaming on social media for change that’ll never come.

One last thing that is obligatory for any ‘bitch about Facebook‘ posts: I wrote a book a year ago that was just one long rant about how shitty social media is and how it’s the cause of everything wrong with our society. Or it’s a microcosm of everything wrong with society. If you’re interested, please check it out, it should be free to read on Kindle Unlimited or whatever the hell it’s called. And if you really enjoy it or are interested, consider buying it. It’s only like $5 $3.

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics every whenever I get around to it. For example:

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing.

Or my Facebook page where I don’t do much of anything at all.

Greta is our Hero

Note: I wrote this a week ago and with my ever present procrastination it sat around in Google Docs doing absolutely nothing. I even thought about scrapping it. But yesterday I found a news story saying that the main motivation for this writing, Greta Thunberg, was actually nearby! She was in Iowa which is notable in and of itself. Iowa isn’t exactly where you’d expect to find someone with worldwide fame to be at outside of presidential candidates during Primary Season. Coincidentally, I was in Iowa last weekend when I was bitching about hotels. I’m well experienced with the absolute nothing that is in Iowa: they have corn and that’s about it. I also can’t shit on Iowa too much because I myself live in Illinois, another state that can easily be described with the singular word that is “corn.” (And Chicago I suppose.) So the stars aligned and Greta was only a few hundred miles away from where I am now and stupidly close to where I was last weekend. Let’s publish this shit and get it over with while I naively think the Universe is sending me signals.

This post is clearly breaking with tradition by not featuring something “that sucks” but if anything what does suck is our inability to actually change the world as individuals. I wrote an early post about that here if you want to check it out. Instead of dwelling on the negativity of our helplessness I want to take a more positive approach. Crazy, right?

Greta Thunberg is yada yada and I’m sure you’ve heard about it all on either mainstream news stations, social media, our your drunken, second-amendment-obsessed right-winger uncle. And I’m sure you already have your opinions of her depending on what you’re brainwashed to believe: she’s either a personal hero (raises hand) or a total fucking villain, something something deepstate/liberal propaganda puppet. I don’t like giving an overview of people like this because it’s tedious and boring; anything or anyone I write about is probably popular enough that you already know who they are. So yeah, Greta. You already know her.

But hey, didn’t you say you weren’t going to write anything political anymore? Yeah, you’re right actually, and that hasn’t changed. What you might not realize is that climate change isn’t political at all. It’s established scientific fact, kinda like the theory of general relativity, quantum mechanics, and electromagnetism are (and surprisingly aren’t politicized). Climate change is such sound science that I’m not going to dick around with proving it to you guys: it’s like trying to explain that the sky is actually blue. I’m not going to prove shit because it’s already been proven. The idea that climate science is a political topic is just some bullshit wizardry invented by those that have a personal interest in the public’s ignorance on the topic.

Why Greta is so beloved/hated is due to how outspoken she is in regards to climate change. She is also a young female which also attracts the ire of detractors. She isn’t wrong though: the climate is a finely tuned and immensely complex machine that has developed over literally millions of years. Humans destabilizing the machine within a few hundred years leaves ecosystems with nowhere near enough time to change and adapt and it’s this upcoming collapse of ecosystems that is the real issue with climate change. As much as people like to think they’re separate from nature we are as much a part of it as any other lifeforms on earth. We’re hopelessly dependent upon the very ecosystems were destabilizing. Greta is pissed about all of this because people have been fucking up the planet for decades well aware of the problem at hand and have done jack to prevent any of it. She’s basically been telling world leaders to get their fucking shit together because we don’t have much room for error going forward.

I think Greta speaks for all of us too: why can’t people in charge get their shit together? Why are companies allowed to pollute and pump endless amounts of CO₂ into the air? Why doesn’t somebody do something?! Note how we always gripe about someone or somebody else. Here’s where I slightly disagree with what Greta is saying: we are the people that need to be doing something! You and I are the problem, and asking or demanding someone else like companies/governments to do something is slightly missing the point. The only problem here is that us, as individuals, feel utterly powerless to do anything to prevent climate change. While we actually hold all the power, we don’t know how to wield it.

Companies don’t pollute for the hell of it because that would go against simple economics. Everyone acts in their own self-interests, corporations as well as us consumers, and this is what drives the world’s mostly capitalist economies. It isn’t a perfect system but it seems to be the economic system that works the best. Us as consumers want good products for cheap and companies provide those products to us to earn the most customers/money. Consider the electric companies: they don’t burn coal for the hell of burning coal, they burn coal because it is the cheapest form of fuel they can find and if they find anything cheaper they’ll switch to that. The problem isn’t companies blatantly polluting, the problem is they have no incentive to do otherwise because us consumers demand their products.

The reason none of us alter our daily activities and habits is because we all feel powerless. If I was the head of a giant corporation I know I could take drastic measures to combat climate change. The same is true if I was a politician. But I’m neither of those things and am just some random guy in Illinois. What can I do to stop climate change? And why would I want to change anything if it will be utterly futile? This is why we want the government or corporations to do something; we can’t do a damn thing because we feel powerless as individuals.

We can stop climate change dead in its tracks if we collectively got our shit together as individuals. We are the problem, but by being the problem we are also the solution.

And back to Greta. Greta is our hero because she can unite us usually helpless feeling individuals and give us direction. I really think humans by our very nature require leaders. Left alone we kinda zip off in our own directions and wander around with misdirected motivation. I think of bugs or moths around a light a night: each of us while wanting to do something is zipping around lost, confused, misguided and undirected. If only we had someone to give a voice to those who feel they have no voice and to give us all a direction to move towards. Someone to inspire us.

Greta also contributes to meme magic.

And that’s what I think Greta’s main power is. We all like her sticking it to world leaders and corporations but they only do what their constituents/consumers want. They’re only working as they should in a capitalist economy. (Maybe that is the problem? There is no incentive to work in a carbon neutral way because there is no economic incentive to do so. I think a carbon tax might be a good idea, although I’m no expert.) But with Greta sticking it to the world leaders, she gets us all on the same page. She gets people passionate about climate change and has us asking What can we do to help stop climate change? I know I’ve been asking myself that same question over and over the past week and I can only imagine that other people are doing the same thing I am, possibly by the millions. We’re not alone and she reminds us of that.

The “Valley of Despair” Sucks

I sometimes frequent the blogging subreddit, but not too frequently. The sub seems to focus mostly on increasing viewers, finding topics to write about, and doesn’t seem too concerned with the “art” of blogging. It isn’t too active of a sub with most posts getting at most between 20 to 30 comments. Compared to some subreddits (like the famed r/wallstreetbets) it isn’t really active even if you can find some decent information from time to time.

I still check it out sometimes and one comment resonated with me this past week. The actual discussion was about how many blogs actually “make it.” (which is an unexplained victory condition: what the hell does “making it” blogging mean? Make money? Keep it running for more than two years? I mean eventually you’ll die and your blog will end but that doesn’t seem like you’ve “failed at it.” Anyways, /rant #1.) There were varying answers but the one that stuck with me was one that mentioned “the valley of despair.” [Big Fucking Note here: I went and found the thread I was alluding too and the poster in question referred to it as “the dip” and linked to blog describing “the dip.” I really have no idea how I came upon the term “valley of despair” in regards to blogging, but apparently the term is real. Who fucking knows. Maybe my mind just connects dots on its own and doesn’t notify me that it’s doing so. Or maybe I’m losing my damn mind. I just wanted to stay accurate with what I’m actually writing.] I didn’t officially know what the hell the valley of despair was but something in the back of my mind knew it too well. Even if it wasn’t explained to me I already knew exactly what it was.

I suppose it’s easy to see in retrospect, as everything is. This blog right here had a “dead period” (actually two of them) not too long ago and since I’ve gotten my act together I’m finding some success. It feels like I’ve hit a stride where all I need to do is to keep working at the blog and it’ll be successful. I’m quietly confident about it and while I don’t think it’ll ever be a super-popular monetized thing I know it won’t be a “dead blog.” Looking back at those dead periods when I wasn’t writing, wasn’t posting, and felt about deleting the damn thing was, obviously, the dreaded valley of despair. And according to that one resonating Reddit comment, is the primary obstacle to successful blogging.

I didn’t want to make this post about blogging though because I’m in a new valley of despair in another area of my life: creative writing. To sum it up quickly, me, lost without any major goals, decided to take up creative writing about three weeks ago. I attempted this years ago and just didn’t stick with it, but this time it’s different. (Really. I’m fucking sticking to it this time.) I took my old blog and started collecting some short stories and chapters to a “book,” made a Facebook author’s page for myself, and started posting and sharing my work (please go check these out if you’re interested). Initially I was met with some warm reception from a few friends and, holy fuck, I was actually doing it! I was going to be Jeremy the Author Guy and sell books and shit. I was riding the wave and on top of the world was king of the world.

It’s funny what two weeks can do to you though. My last few “chapters” haven’t had shit for readers/viewers/likes/feedback at all, and I’m fundamentally wondering if I’m actually cut out to be a writer. Do I even have that “gift” that creative writing requires. (It doesn’t. I’m convinced, logically, that all anything takes is hard work and “talent” is just some bullshit idea people who don’t want to do hard work use as an excuse to not try anything. /rant #2.) Even if I know in my mind that it’s just hard work and dedication, I still feel in my heart there is some vague thing called “talent” that I might not have and will never have it even if I don’t believe it. It’s like some festering, subconscious fear I have, like being scared of the dark knowing well you’re perfectly safe. Hell, and maybe my stories are just terrible. This is a really scary thought because if they were no one would say it out of kindness. I’d like to really know how bad I am so I can either 1. give the fuck up or 2. know what I’m bad at exactly so I can improve on it. But pestering friends and family to read your shit is a whole new level of cringe that just comes across as attention seeking. BUT I JUST WANT FEEDBACK GUYS.

Let’s define this a little bit more though as it makes total sense with writing/blogging/whatever new project you’ve started. Some uninspired Googling has given me a bunch of charts and websites talking about “emotional change” and while that isn’t exactly what starting a project is, I think it’s close enough to actually be the same thing. Like maybe starting a new project is a subset of “emotional change” as you’re adjusting to having an entire new part of your life you’re dedicated to. There also is apparently a Dunning-Kruger valley of despair, but that doesn’t seem to be relevant to the topic at hand.

Since I couldn’t find a site that seemed legit or non-clickbaity enough, I just screencapped everything Google tossed at me. As you can see most charts show the same sort of trend when faced with “change.” It’s kinda like a sine curve or something.

Close enough, right?

And then I went and drew my own so I can talk about each point I labeled, as well as not get any sort of copyright bullshit tossed at me.

Current Mood vs. XP Points Gained at your “project” or whatever you’re doing. It seemed general enough.
  1. This is usually called “uninformed optimism” or some shit like that. Basically this is the point where you’re high off actually making a decision to progress forward at something. You have a goal that you’ve set upon and you start working towards it. Actually doing work towards a goal feels fucking amazing and even if you’re scared of the future, at least you’re taking matters into your own hands.
  2. This is the start of the valley of despair also called something lame like “informed pessimism.” This is where you realize that your goal isn’t going to be all fun and games and that, holy hell, sometimes doing a glorious and noble task like writing a book is actually not that fun sometimes. And sometimes it’s actual work that you dread.
  3. The pit of the valley of despair. I think with creative writing I’m somewhere between #2 and #3 (although I’d like to be closer to #3 so I can actually get over feeling awful about it. I don’t even know how to explain this spot on the chart because it’s like an unexplainable pit in your stomach. It’s a total feeling of shit, like you’re not meant or cut out to do what you’ve set out to do. Like the universe itself doesn’t want you as an author/blogger/artist/whatever. It makes you want to quit and many people do give up their project in this phase. The project feels like a mistake: a mistake that you continue to put time, effort, and resources towards that also feels like a waste of all of these. The general feeling of being shit is also kinda shitty. There doesn’t seem to be a way forward and you’re not happy doing what you’re doing. It’s a feeling of being lost and of wanting to toss the towel in and give up.
  4. “Informed optimism.” After hard work and giving up all hope you find some success but you’re not letting that shit go to your head because you think you still fucking suck at what you’re doing, but there are clear signs of progress if you quit being pessimistic enough to notice them. I like to think you make progress continually at this stage because of giving up in the valley of despair. You simply don’t care if you make it or not and your project just becomes something you do without attachment anymore. There’s something very freeing about not giving a shit, and this allows you to do what you do in the most genuine way possible. I say this so clearly because this blog right here is at #4 I think. I don’t give a fuck if no one reads it or if I fail, and contrary to what you’d expect, I’m actually have some success with it.
  5. Success! (whatever that actually means) I don’t even want to get into this because I don’t know what it’s like to be at #5. I’m assuming this is the point where you feel confident at what you’re doing — a quiet confidence that isn’t cocky — and your project has become a facet of who you are and part of your life. You accomplish things in a determined but carefree manner. I get this impression when I visit successful and mature blogs as well as many YouTube channels. Like go watch a newer SmarterEveryDay video and tell me Destin isn’t at #5 on this chart. That man is in the zone doing what he’s doing and he’s confident and enthusiastic with what he’s doing.

“Hey Black Haired Guy, got any tips for us bloggers/writers weathering the storm in the valley of despair?” No, no I do not because, like I said, I’m not at #5 so don’t think I am qualified to give tips and am kinda hoping for tips myself. But if anything (and maybe to just get myself fucking hyped the fuck up to continue on creatively writing) don’t give up! Because what else are you supposed to do besides not give up? If you give up in the valley of despair you’re fucking giving up. The whole thing this chart hints at is the fact that success might just be making it through the valley in the first place. Like maybe this is where the 80 or 90% of blogs that “don’t make it” go to die; what if the valley of despair is just the great filter between you and success? I just don’t see what you’d gain by giving up because giving up is giving up!

Being slightly more specific maybe I do have more ways to get myself siked up more tips for those in the valley of despair. Make small bits of progress: a book isn’t going to write itself in a few days and a blog won’t be successful in the first few months or years. Take things one tiny bit at a time. Write a chapter every two days or post a blog post every few days or every week. Maybe make a schedule and hold yourself to it like it’s a job? Try to summon memories from when you first started and we’re enthusiastic about your dream/goal. Find that passion that surely still lives deep within you. And if you’re really lost? Write down a plan. Writing seems to be a large part in marketing yourself so try doing that for some possible success. Ask people to read and critique your writings and learn from it. Or, to sum up what I said before: don’t fucking give up!