The system will always win.
I am a constant work in progress.
2016 was a quite a year for me, to say the least. I pretty much got really caught up in the moment so the future wasn’t something really on my mind even though it should of been. I was just caught up in procrastination, laziness, and sleep deprivation. I let grades slip, friends fall off, let relationships with family members deteriorate, and gave Miranda a run for her money. I decided that staying up too late and doing everything possible to avoid what I should really be doing was more important. I decided that I was just going to live life the way it was. I would lie and tell those around me that I had big goals, that I wanted to do this and become this. At the end of the day, I would look in the mirror and know that I was lying.
I had no motivation because I had stopped looking at what I had in front of me. Instead, I would focus on what I didn’t have. It polluted my image of my life, and I honestly thought myself inadequate. I told myself I wasn’t a good boyfriend for Miranda or that I deserve my education. I convinced myself that I wasn’t good enough for anything because I failed to see what I had: a beyond amazing fiancée, a loving and supporting family, a free education, a good job, and good people to call my friends (Chase, I’m thinking of you).
A lot of things have led to this point in my life where I’m constantly striving to be better. For a year, I decided that I wasn’t going to try. This year, I’m deciding that I’m going to accomplish everything that I want. I know it’s going to take a lot of hard work, but I’m ready.
Social media is a drug. Millions of us each seeking the attention of our friends, each of us competing to have the best lives shown through our pictures and status updates. I’ll catch myself asking the question, “Why can’t my life be like this?” Often times, I will even get angry or upset because it seems so unfair that I can’t have things like they have it. I get angry because it seems so easily attainable to others, that perfect life that they’re living. I have so many goals for Miranda and I, for our future. I have so many things I want to do, places I want to travel… But then I get on Instagram or Facebook and see so many others achieving the same things I want.
Truth is that the moments we choose to share with our friends are usually the best moments. The highlights of our lives. No one ever shares the darkness, the sad moments, the moments not worth showing because it’d ruin the false image we like to project to others. Online we can be anything we want you to think we are. Social media dilutes our image of one another.
Don’t get me wrong — I am not saying I have a hard or bad life. I have a great life; I have a wonderful and loving fiancée, a loving and supporting family, a decent paying job, and a good circle of friends. All that I am saying is social media forces me to raise the standard of my own life because I am constantly watching the lives of others. I am constantly comparing myself to my friends, to complete strangers. I become so immersed in this false competition I can lose sight of my own damn life. I become so obsessed with the idea of “they have it easier than me” that I forget to work towards my own goals.
I think that my problem is a problem common to many. Or maybe it is just me. Regardless, I am done comparing. I am done seeking some sort of gratification or reward for a status update, picture , or whatever. I am done comparing myself to others. I am done watching the lives of others go by while mine sits still. I am done wasting so much time on social media.
It’s time I get my life together.
Life has this funny way of sneaking up on you when you really don’t need it to. One week you feel on top of the world, the next you’re lying in the Mariana Trench. That’s just how it works, especially if you’re me. As my girlfriend puts it, my highs are high, and my lows are low — there is no in between, no middle ground. That’s all fine, however.
I think that I require a bit of self reflection. The last few weeks of my life I have spent a good amount of time trying to figure out a way to get going again. I’ve become accustomed to sleeping way more than I need, procrastinating on copious amounts of homework, and being an all around lazy ass. I’ve just gotten so sick of the same cycle: denial of my issues, self doubt of my ability to resolve my issues, and self loathing of my inability to solve my issues. One day, I’m motivated and ready to change everything. The next day I sleep 10 hours and skip school. It’s really embarrassing, and I feel ashamed of how I’m handling this.
A large portion of my chronic procrastination comes from no repercussions from said procrastination. During all four years of my high school career, I didn’t do anything and I excelled in school. I procrastinated every single assigment, never studied, and my senior year, I barely showed up. Guess what I got in exchange for all of that hard work? A full ride to a good university in my town. How convenient. And then there’s college. This quote summarizes my problem:
“You may be poor, but the one thing nobody can take away from you is the freedom to fuck up your life whatever the way you want to.”
— Jonathan Franzen, Freedom
My parents love and support everything I do. Now they have known that I will always take care of my school work, and for the most part, they never had to worry about me doing well in school. They just assumed that I’d always do well. In high school, that was the case. Now, however, that I am in college, things are so very different. I have found myself attempting to study (something I am NOT accustomed to), struggling with homework and projects, and not always getting perfect grades. The only thing I excel at here is writing. School has never been hard for me, and college has been a damn wake up call. Honestly, I still am trying to find my groove. With working almost full time hours and going to school full time, I’ve let myself fall into this endless cycle of motivation and demotivation. I go through periods of intense dedication, then I’ll get some kind of reward (i.e., do well on a test), and then decide that I deserve a break for all of my hard work.
Except that break is far longer than it should be, and thus begins the cycle once again. Everyday I feel that weight of disappointment in myself get heavier and heavier, but damn, why can’t I just get up and grind like everyone else? My girlfriend works two jobs and goes to school full time. My best friend gets up at 6:30 AM everyday, works and then goes to school all night. I met a fellow last semester that was a full time high school teacher going to med school. They get their shit done, why can’t I? What am I doing wrong? Some days I just don’t understand it. I’m learning to just fake it ’til I make it, and maybe one day it’ll just click.
I digress. I’ll be posting another story this week hopefully. With the recent election, I think it’ll be inspired from that. I’ve never been more proud of my country and to be an American, so a show of patriotism might be prevalent in the next story.
[Reality Fiction] I watched the clock tick over from 11:59 to 12:00. Another day, gone, just like that.
Long drives were my pastime. I always went on my drives when I needed to get away from life. Sometimes I’d pull into an empty parking lot to sit in the silence. I knew it was dangerous, but here I could reflect on my day or whatever it was that was bothering me. I could see all the positives and all the negatives. Most of my life’s major decisions were made in the silence of Dad’s old truck. Maybe that was why I loved these drives so much. It was like spending time with him, something I will always regret not doing. This truck was still here, and he wasn’t.
I pulled off into the parking lot of a local grocery store, and made my way around to the back. It was dark back here, and that’s why I visited this one so much. There wasn’t a soul in sight. Hell, it was almost midnight. My wife hated when I went on these late night drives. Usually, I’d head out around nine or ten and be back by eleven. Tonight, however, my wife and I got into an argument. It was over something stupid as usual, but with work and the day of my dad’s passing approaching, it got to me more than usual. I needed some time alone, plus it had been a few weeks since I had last traveled into the welcoming night.
Dad was a good man even if he had a temper. He was the most hardworking person I’ve ever known – something I’ve tried to replicate all my life, but I’ve never been successful. If he had his mind set on something, you’d bet he’d get it done. I remember shortly after buying he bought my first car, an old, red beater SUV, and I broke the key off in the ignition. It was cheap and had it’s share of problems, but my dad worked his ass off to get me a ride. He always made sure to take care of me, no matter what he had to do. Unfortunately, when I broke the key, the rust bucket was still running and I couldn’t turn it off. I panicked knowing that he was going to freak. Upon calling him I heard a fair amount of expletives and there was some name calling, and I knew he was pissed off.
I honestly don’t know how he got the key out of the ignition. It was wedged impossibly far in there due to my failed attempts at getting it out before I called him. After I had heard him curse my car and me with it, I decided to just go in the house. A couple minutes later, he comes in my room resolved and drops the broken key into my lap.
“Now you’ll know not to put your keys on that damn lanyard,” he sounded irritated. I remember being so angry at him for being mad at me for making a mistake. Looking back, I know he was just irritated at his luck.
I looked down, and rubbed my thumb across that broken key. Over twenty years, and I still have that damn thing. I took a glance at my watch and noticed it was getting closer to midnight. I told my wife I’d be home by now, but I think I’ll just sit here a bit longer. It was nice out. The breeze flowing through my open windows kept me cool, and the gentle hum of the grocery store’s air conditioning made for a relaxing melody. Its funny how often one’s perception changes. During the day, the sound of that old unit might have been more annoying than relaxing; however, couple it with nighttime and a breeze, you could fall asleep to it.
I guess it was time to go back home. I cranked his truck up, and listened to the engine purr. It really should have been a piece of junk by now being so old, but I liked to think his spirit preserved the youthfulness. Or it could be my meticulous care over it. Nonetheless, it was beautiful and left just as he wanted it. On my way home, more memories of my dad rushed through my head. I remembered the way he hated social gatherings — something that rubbed off on me — and how he seemed the happiest when he was working on something. I remembered all the times I told myself I’d go see him before and after he got sick and I never did. I had let life get in the way, and that affected my parents. Mom was still here, though, and I tried my best to spend my days with her. Dad was gone. I felt it was my fault. That somehow he got sick from me not seeing him, from not just spending one day with him. If I could go back, and just get one more day to tell him I love him, or maybe just a thank you. A thank you for all the lessons he taught me, all the times he picked me up when I fell, and all the times he showed me how to be good man. A man who sacrificed himself for everyone else’s happiness. A man who never told me how much it hurt when I’d go months without seeing him. A man who told me he loved me and that he was proud of me on the phone just moments before he died.
A tear found itself in the corner of my eye, and made it’s way down my cheek.
Pulling up in the driveway, I checked my watch. I watched the clock tick over from 11:59 to 12:00. Another day, gone, just like that.
I miss you, Dad.
Wow, this one really got me in my feels. Just to clarify: my dad is alive and well. I’ll probably give him a call here soon. I went with this prompt because I wanted to test something new out, and then this story kind of just flowed out. I’ve never experienced such emotion when writing. I think this is what it’s all about.
I hope you guys liked this one as much as I did. It was hard to write.
The human mind is an incredible piece of work. The ability to juggle so many things at once astonishes me. Right now, I am going to school full time, working, spending time with my wonderful girlfriend, friends, writing a book, essay, short story, maintaining a website, working on a personal project, learning a new programming language, and several other activities. My brain keeps up just fine. For the most part, I am able to switch from one to the other with almost no hindrance.
I digress. I know that it has been a few days since my last post. I’m thinking of only posting once or twice a week so I can avoid my lesser quality stories such as Run and my first Writing Prompt story. I’m an impatient person; I’m impulsive, and that comes out in my writing. I get in such a hurry to finish it, upload it to here, and it comes out worse than I thought. I need to avoid doing that so I can post better, longer content. My stories so far have been fairly short with the exception of My Sweetheart. I want to post longer, fulfilling content. When I was younger, I remember I wanted books to be supremely long so that I could experience the world within much longer. I want that to be the case with my writings as well.
I was thinking about deleting the posts I felt weren’t up to par with the rest, but I decided against it. This could serve as a way of watching me improve as a writer. I could just keep them for myself, but I guess this way is better. Also, a couple of days ago I subtly dropped my website throughout my social media. I was nervous at first, exposing this more private side of myself to everyone. There are only a few people besides my incredibly supportive girlfriend that know I like to write, and I’m still not that confident in my skills as a writer so dropping that URL on my post took some thought. Against my inner wishes, I posted it. I received a few visitors, but I don’t think really anyone cared. Honestly, the more I think about it, the less I care about others seeing this side of me. Writing gives me a sense of direction, a sense of purpose. Sure, before I really committed to it, I had an idea of things I wanted to do (i.e., school, house, marriage, job, etc.), but writing gives me a sense of expression I haven’t really had before.
As a kid, I dabbled in little stories and poetry, but it was short-lived. I still have a lot of my poems from those times, and I liked to revisit them every now then and appreciate how much I’ve grown. During those times, I was going through some rough times and that’s how I got through it. I listened to Eminem and wrote poetry. We all cope differently, I guess. As I got older (and things got better), I stopped writing and reading altogether. I became consumed by video games, the internet, and social media. As I mature, I’ve learned that my time on the internet (specifically nonproductive, time consuming sites – Facebook, Reddit, etc.) needs to be cut dramatically along with sleeping all the time and procrastinating school work. My days are a lot more structured now, and I’m learning to make better use of what little free time I do have.
As I mentioned above, I’m working on a lot of things right now. I will probably post a personal essay of mine (or a short story) come this weekend, but I do have a terrible amount of homework to complete. I’m also in the middle of making exercise a habit again, so that’s another struggle. Without my girlfriend, I don’t think I could make it through all this mess. Anyways, thanks to all who have visited, liked, and gave me feedback so far. I know there aren’t many of you, but I enjoy and appreciate it nonetheless.
Thanks for reading,
“I like you, you’re different. Not special, just different.”
The trees sped past me as I ran through the woods. The leaves crunched underneath my pounding feet. The wind bit at my face and exposed skin. I loved running early in the morning. The world around me was so quiet, the usual hustle and bustle of chaos society puts themselves through has stopped. I came out here every morning and ran to my heart’s content.
I usually never came across anyone during my morning runs. It was through a small forest located near my house, so there was never really any reason to run into anyone around here. If I did, it was the occasional homeless person and once I ran into another woman going for a run. I never saw here again, though, as I was running at a later time than usual. Today, however, I noticed a figure walking along the trail just as I arrived. Weird, I thought, but no big deal.
As I approached the figure from behind, I noticed it was a man. Tall with rich, dark hair. He wore a cashmere trench coat and slacks. A little odd for a walk in the woods. I grew cautious as I began my way around him, and I sped up without saying a word. As I rounded the corner up ahead, I went to an all out sprint. I don’t know why, but the feeling I got from that guy left me afraid. Once I was satisfied with a good distance from him, I stopped for a breather. I had to be running hard for good three or four minutes.
“I like you, you’re different. Not special, just different,” I spun around to the sound. It was the man, except he was directly in the path I was running. There was no way he could be there. I never even heard him approach.
“Um, thanks, I guess,” as I tried to walk past him. He grabbed my arm.
“I’ve never had them run from me before I came after them,” he smiled menacingly.
This wasn’t as great as I’d like it to be, but I promised myself I’d post another story today, so here we are. Let me know what you think.