I’m trying to be okay with being alive. I can’t say it’s going very well though.
How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard – Winnie the Pooh
I want to live, but a larger part of me hopes something goes horribly wrong and I finally get to leave this place. I finally get to rest.
It sucks when you’re lying awake at night thinking “if I died, would anyone even care.”
It’s even worse when you know the answer is “no”.
When the time comes to leave, just walk away quietly and don’t make a fuss. – Banksy
Step up to bat and look the pitcher in the eye. The game has begun.
Useless. Stupid. Childish. Waste-of-time. Failure.
The words cut like a knife as you replay that phone call over and over again in your head. “You got an interview for medical school? Why? Who would take you? You’re being stupid.” All your life you’ve worked so hard to please that man. To make him proud. You’ve almost killed yourself from stress (literally) just to obtain those ever pleasing As but not once did you receive praise. Eventually you stopped looking for it and rejected them from people around you. I can do better. This isn’t good enough. Anyone can do this. But this time it was different. This time you waited until he returned home because you were excited. All of your hard work may have finally paid off.
Getting excited. That was your first mistake.
You’ve started a fundraiser. You want to go to Nepal to help with relief efforts over the Christmas break. You have some experience in restoration and can be an asset in the medical field. Yes, this is my way of giving back to the world. I can help those who cannot help themselves. You’re adrenaline starts to increase.
You check your email. A school has messaged you, “Congratulations! You’ve passed stage 1 of the application process. The next step is a formal interview at our university.” You did it (well sort-of but it’s a step in the right direction). You have an interview and you’re mouth is grinning from side to side as you eagerly await to tell him. But you don’t want to say anything right away, this is your moment and you want to keep it all to yourself for a little bit. To embrace the magic and make sure it isn’t a dream.
You’ve been stressed for weeks, sleep has been lost, meals have been neglected, and you’re barely keeping it together. You’ve gone a maximum of three days without shedding tears but it was a struggle. You avoid mirrors with the entirety of your soul because even the slightest glimpse of your reflection would set of you off. It takes a lot of energy to hate yourself this much. That the very thought that other people must look at you when they are walking down the street will result in a crumpled version of your body by the bathroom stall. You don’t want to leave your bed but you know that you have work to do, so you create a plan. First train in the morning, last train at night. Do not leave the office for lunch, do not talk to others, keep your head down and become invisible. It’s for their own good; no one should be subjected to this awful face and lard of a body. I’m saving them from the trauma of encountering something so hideous that they may have nightmares. I hate myself. Your boss calls you into his office and you walk in keeping your head down. He looks at you and starts to tell you about this new project he wants you to work on. You nod in agreement and then he tells you something that you weren’t expected. “I’m really pleased with your work and I was able to talk to some companies who are willing to pay you for all of your hard work.” You can’t help it. You look up with tears forming in your eyes. Finally. You thank him profusely and feel the excitement grow inside your stomach.
Third strike, and you’re out.
The phone call was quick. Pleasantries were exchanged and all seemed to be going well. You tell him your good news, the interview, Nepal, the job, and even let it slip in that you’re grades are doing well and that you’ve been traveling. “You travel too much. You’re wasting away your life. It’s time for you to grow up. That interview is stupid, it’s too far and besides, why would they take you? You’re getting paid for a job? That’s not a big deal; stop acting so childish for goodness sake. There’s no way you’re going to Nepal, that’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.” 5 minutes. 5 minutes is all it took to leave you a mess in an alley way with tears streaming down your face. You’re heaving and can barely catch your breath.
No one said baseball would be fun.
Be the change you wish to see in the world – Mahatma Gandhi
There are many cases where parents and their offspring do not see eye-to-eye about certain things. This can be attributed to the changing of social precedents, new-found maturity of the offspring, stubbornness from one or both parties, as well as many other factors. However, at the end of the day, the only important thing from their interactions should be the stability and continuity of honesty. Sounds easy enough but let’s take a look at this word, what does ‘honesty’ and ‘being honest’ really entail?
“Honesty” is derived from the Latin word honestas. In the fourteenth century, it first appeared in the English language, and it closely denotes to “honour”. Varro, a Roman linguist, suggested that onus, “burden”, is the root of honos, implying that honour weighs us down morally. But what does this mean? Let’s take a small peak into Greek mythology.
One of the most famous stories of Diogenes the Cynic is when he wandered around ancient Greece carrying a lantern and searching for an honest man. He spent most of his life living in a barrel outside the city-state of Corinth and was the original Cynic. He was witty, rude and had little respect for authority and he believed that men and women carried on through life dictated by rules and taboos, making no one truthful or honest. However, why was he searching for an honest man when being a Cynic makes one believe that there is no such thing? There are many theories, his father was a banker and when Diogenes took to debasement of currency, he was banished. His quest to find an honest man could be his way of redeeming his actions. Although by many counts he was a stubborn man, he did believe that virtue was better revealed in action than in theory.
If what he believed of virtue holds true, then the expectation is that it is translated and carried out to the current century but unfortunately, this is not true. Actually, there are rarely reported cases of ancient Greeks being straight in their dealings (this is why if anyone tried to swindle the Romans, they were referred to having “Greek honesty”). Throughout Greek history, the people’s actions has changed and the modern ancient Greeks think themselves as honest, as indeed so do I. This is different from many of my North American and United Kingdom friends who will openly and freely admit that they are not always honest. Who would ever admit that? This tells you that although they may not always be honest, they value virtue, an admiring state.
So the next time there is an argument that breaks out between you and your parents/guardians/spouse/partner/offspring, think back to the underlying issue. Did this dispute erupt because one party wasn’t being honest to the other? Did they say one thing to your face but meant something else entirely? Being honest is difficult but being virtuous is not. There is nothing wrong with having high moral standards but make sure that someone else does not suffer in the process. Diogenes valued virtue but it was at the expense of those around him. There is still no answer as to whether Diogenes found his honest man but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be one. Take on the role of the missing person and turn it into someone who can be found. Then spread it to others and make a world where one does not need to search for an honest man, but it is the dishonest ones which are scarce.
Why did I say that? I’m such an idiot. Why can’t you just be normal like everyone else? No one wants to hear what you have to say. Fool. Stupid. Loner.
You stare down at your phone. It’s too late, the text has already been sent. No matter how much you want to jump into your phone, follow the text message coding, and stop it from getting delivered to the recipient, you can’t. In retrospect, it’s nothing too bad but in this very moment, it’s detrimental.
They probably think that I’m such an idiot. That I’m nuts. I was just trying to be funny. Why on earth would I analyze pineapple fruit? WHO DOES THAT?!
You’re already walking on eggshells whenever the two of you interact. You don’t know where you stand and in a few weeks you’ll be off on another adventure. You want to keep the lines of communication strong but are terrified that’s not what they want. You are so worried about what they may think, that every action you do is calculated. Precise. No room for error. You’ve scared so many others away by just being your normal, weird, wacky self that you’ve decided it’s time to stop. Change. It’ll be for the best. You bite your tongue when you think of one of your endless bad puns, you down play the animation when you get excited. You pinch your skin when you want to change your voice to mimic that of a tv show or movie character. It’s hard to recognize yourself anymore but you think this is what’s good. What society wants. What they want. But no-one knows that for sure. No one can. That doesn’t matter. This is the right thing.
Then you slip.
You forgot to hold back and make that terrible pun. You analyze the lies within the word “pineapple”. It’s only after you send the message, you realize your mistake. It was a good run. You lasted two months. You await a response. Nothing. You aren’t even surprised at this point. You should’ve known. For the next few hours you replay what you’ve done over and over again. Pin-pointing the exact moment you let your defences down. Can’t let that happen again.
For anyone interested, there is this wonderful song by Colbie Caillat which was released this past summer (2014). It discussed breaking the stereotypes and learning how to accept yourself for who you are. It’s a good listen and who knows? You may find it helpful, either consciously or subconsciously.
Keep your head down, keep your thoughts to yourself. Whatever you do, don’t draw attention. Just keep going.
Thoughts tend to consume your mind when you least expect it. You could wake up one morning, completely cheery and then out of nowhere it hits you. It takes over and everything goes numb. You need to get out but where can you go to escape your mind?
Take a deep breath 1…2…3… Exhale. Repeat.
Your friends text you about their day. One just got into medical school, the other dental. More are accepting Master’s programs or getting geared up for graduation but here you sit. You aren’t them. When everyone is packing up and moving on from the four years spent together at university, you’re dreading the fact that you’re back for one more semester. You failed. You didn’t pass Go to collect your degree, you landed on Boardwalk instead.
Who do you think you are? A person who matters? A person someone cares about? Once they’re gone, they’re never coming back. They are going to forget you. You never really mattered to them, you were a convenience. Someone to talk to at Uni but that’s it. Worthless. Annoying. Fat. Failure.
Take a deep breath 1…2…3… Exhale. Repeat.
In a few weeks you will be going off on another adventure. You somehow found a loop hole and managed to do a MRes. in medicine while completing your undergrad. You got offered a phD placement in the same lab and yet you can’t be excited. Your best friend tells you how proud they are, your family is in shock because no one believed that you could do it. You have all these opportunities and yet here you sit, terrified. I don’t deserve this. I’m not good enough. I’m a fraud. You know that your grades aren’t where they should be. You have a hard time accepting things given to you because since a young age you’ve been prone to disappointment. You learn that there is no point to get excited over things because more often then not, it won’t work out.
You’re so tired of letting yourself down and the worthless feeling that overwhelms you but time after time again, it happens. There’s no way to explain your thought process to your friends without coming off as spoiled. Rude. A show-off. You don’t know how to express the overwhelming paralyzing fear that rushes through your body that some days it’s a chore to leave your bed. That with every passing day and every “can’t wait for our graduation!” you creep more into your shell. It’s not even your own body anymore but a hollow cave of who you once were. You take a look in the mirror and don’t even recognize the person staring back. Who is this girl? She looks so defeated. The bags under your eyes have darkened, silver hairs sprout at every angle, your face has sunken and your thighs have grown. You hate every inch of if with every being of what’s left of that hollow cave.
Buzz. Buzz. You look across the room. A text from your friend asking for help on coursework. You’ve been studying for 13+ hours straight but you don’t want to let them down. You text them back and help them. Just because you’re a failure doesn’t mean they should be as well.
Buzz. Buzz. Another text. This time by a guy that you don’t even know if you are seeing. It’s been two months and you’ve talked everyday and hung out multiple times. But he hasn’t made a move yet. You understand it’s probably because you’re repulsive and yet he still messages you. You don’t know how to react and you second guess every exchange. You don’t understand why they are in your life, why they said they enjoy your company when you can’t stand yourself. You ignore the text for now.
Better wait until the thoughts pass, don’t want him to know the real you.
Take a deep breath 1…2…3… Exhale. Repeat.
You respond, making a funny joke or happy comment. You’re keeping face and lying to yourself in the process. It’s killing you but you’ve surpassed the point of caring.
Take a deep breath 1…2…3… Exhale. Repeat.