One nineteen year old’s guide to a positive outlook as a negative crank

Reader, 

I wrote the following post when I was nineteen years old and struggling with what I didn’t realise was anxiety (yay for hindsight!). I never posted it because I hated it, I had and still have, little to no confidence in my capabilities as a writer. When I consider the fact that I wish to pursue a career in journalism, I am aware of the silliness.

I have not touched a syllable below, I want you to read it as I have written it. It is only by chance that I happened to open this untitled draft and the timing could not have been more perfect. I don’t have a lot of positive things to say about the person I was at this time, however,at twenty-two, I needed to read her words at this time in my life. She might get where you’re at, you might think she’s just a rambler, either way, happy reading.

I’d be lying if I said since leaving school that the plans I made at fourteen years old all came true and that I was living by the structure I had created in my mind in order to distract myself from the yelling and confusion in the classroom.  I’d be telling even bigger lies if I said that the last two years have gone smoothly, no sleepless nights, no crying myself to sleep and no letting everything build up to the point that I cannot function. Nonetheless, I’d be a liar if I told you I was unhappy.

I learned at a young age that life itself is hard work, it’s unpredictable and no matter how hard you work, how kind you are, how selfless your acts, things go horribly wrong and there are people who quite frankly could not give so much as a f*ck about your troubles. I see an awful lot of people on my social networking sites who mope and groan about how shitty their lives are and how broken and numb they are inside, my question to these people is, okay, life is shit a lot of the time but why the surprise? Who told you it was easy? Find whoever told you and give them a slap and then proceed to grow a pair of balls be it girl balls or boy balls, just grow a pair.

I think we underestimate how challenging life itself is and the shock blinds us from all that is good and important in our lives. I stress about college and relationships and do what I have always done which is bottle things up until that cap pops off and I become a big fat mess. The last time this happened was about seven months ago, I retreated to the bathroom and the sobbed in a cubicle for half an hour. Not my best moment in case I didn’t make that clear. A friend of mine came in and told me how pointless it was, to cry about something I couldn’t change, to build up this big scary scenario in my head that had not happened and then she reminded me what day it was, falling apart was not on the schedule, Rockin’ Joe’s however, was.

Of course we all have our down days and sometimes, there’s no way of rescheduling those but sometimes we have a choice, to power through or simply retreat and be counterproductive. We’re all guilty of it but I think we often forget that there is so much to do and so many reasons to not be upset. I like to think that I look at life as a realist though I do firmly believe that bad things can lead to better things and the only person stopping these better things from coming along is you. You have so much to offer, I know you’re probably thinking,

“Like what? A degree in something that is no longer a profession?”

“A more cynical outlook on the world than everyone else?”

“An Arts degree?”

“What does a secondary school dropout have to offer?”

“I’m too depressed to leave my fucking house, not much I can do from the confines of my room?”

Whatever you’re thinking, you’re overlooking the question and clinging to the insides of your box. Change and contributions that lead to change don’t always have to do with academics, something as simple as not being an asshole to someone or offering help to someone, anyone you see that needs it. For example, someone drops their keys on the street or seeing a stressed out cashier in a shop and telling a light-hearted joke and wishing them luck with the rest of their day. It doesn’t have to be big and it certainly doesn’t have to go viral.

There are changes that people can make and changes that we have to rely on governments to make, one workload is not lighter than the other but criticism and reminders here and there aren’t a bad thing. We all need to look at where we’re going and why we have chosen the paths that we have, do we want to? Do we have to? Any idea where this is all going? Does knowing matter?

It’s hard to take the time to just stop and look around and it’s pretty disorienting when you do, you see things and pick up on behaviours that are weird, like no one in an elevator wanting to strike up conversation for fear of seeming odd or overly interested, pretending to be on our phones to avoid socialising or having a chronically short attention span because screens are better than people because of the quantities of people that can be reached.

I always worried about not finding anything real or meaningful in such a filtered world where the only sounds are the keys on a keyboard changing pace depending on the subject and the occasional grunt with a thousand meanings. It’s so lonely offline these days and we can’t differentiate between the online world and the real world, we can’t process anything like we should be able to do and we don’t really talk to one another anymore.