Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Losing Hope

*prepare's a long one*

I was one of those rare kids that loved school. Because of this, the highlight of my year was always the first day of school. When most of my friends were lamenting the end of their summer break, dreading the next semester, I was silently happy. I loved having to get school supplies, loading up my backpack for the first day. I loved the anticipation of getting my schedule. Of comparing it with my friends in the hallway to find out if we had any classes together. A lot of people look back at high school and wish they could erase that part of their life. I wish I was still back in high school. I knew who I was then. I was the A student. One of those few freshman who were in honor choir. The singer that could bounce between any male vocal part. I was the one in junior level classes my freshman year. The kid that got kicked out of typing class on the first day because I was “too fast.” The kid who didn’t groan when there was an essay assignment.

When I got out of sports the start of my freshman year I lost a good amount of my friends. Those friends who I had played football with since 5th grade. I was bitter at first, but then I found my equals. The smart kids who dressed weird. The ones who were smashing pumpkins on Halloween. The ones that only lived a few streets apart.

My goal was to get a girlfriend. I wanted girls to pay attention to me. Before I started high school I had been a jock, a prep, a kicker. When none of those worked I just started being me…and that didn’t work…but at least I was comfortable.

I had dreams of going to college, of starting my career in writing, getting married, having children. Then I moved, the middle of my junior year.

I changed.

My first few months in Georgia I slept on a couch because I didn’t have a bed. I woke up looking at my own breath because of how cold the basement was.

Going to high school here I changed again. I was still the A kid, but instead of hanging with people at lunch I would skip lunch and go to the library to write. I was the one who got to school early so I could work on the newspaper. I was the kid who sat in the back corner of the room and kept to myself. The one without friends. The one who lost himself in movies and books. The only time I ever skipped a class, I was technically going to another school to help with their newspaper. Even then I felt like a rebel. I quit choir. I quit riding the bus. I dressed even weirder. I made sure to somehow stand out…and blend in…at the same time.

By my senior year none of that changed. Only now when I thought about college I thought about moving away. Going to another state.

I still tried to find a girlfriend, but again they never seemed to pay attention to me. I can’t really blame them. I was the big, fat, shy, weird kid.

About halfway through my senior year I actually got a friend. He was one of the “outcasts” of the school. One of the ones that people tended to avoid in the hallway. As much as I try to look back on my life from that point on with fond memories…I don’t really have any.

I graduated with a 3.9 gpa and close to a 1200 on my SAT. I was accepted to UGA, Emory, Texas A&M, and Kennesaw State University. I was accepted to every school I applied to. I chose KSU. Mainly because it was close to home, my only friend…and I could afford it.

I changed.

With my new group of friends…guided by the friend from high school…I got into drugs. A shit ton of drugs. My entire life my grandparents had given me savings bonds for Christmas. I cashed those in to a tune of $8,000. I spent it all in three months.

Now I work a job where I’m lucky to break $12,000 a year.

I lost my virginity at 19 to a fucking whore. Not a literal whore mind you…I never paid her. However, if you had drugs, she was all yours. So much for love.

I failed every class…every class…my first three semesters of college. I never really bounced back from that. Then again, college wasn’t what I expected.

My dream of college was huge auditorium classrooms. Teachers who liked to be engaged with their students. I heard tales of advanced philosophy classes that met at a bar. Of parties like you wouldn’t believe. I thought I would find people…just…like…me. Instead I was greeted with classes that felt like high school. I went to one college party…that a friend took me to. I didn’t find this feeling of “free love” that I’d always expected. Movies ruined college for me. Life ruined college for me. People ruined college for me.

That kid that always loved going to school now hated it. The kid that never skipped was now skipping all the time. The kid that paid attention and always made the grade was now falling asleep in class and getting put on academic probation.

My last semester…what was even supposed to be my last semester…I tried to get that spark back. I was getting excited to go back. I’d been out for a year. I’d cleaned myself up. I was going to do this. It took two weeks before I started skipping again. Two weeks before I found myself falling asleep in class. Two weeks before I found myself wondering what bar I was going to go to when I got out of class. By now you should already know the outcome…I missed graduation by two classes.

I waited two years to try and petition to get back in. I wanted to give myself time to clear my head. I wanted to refocus. I didn’t get back in.

Now I’m lost.

All those dreams I had are gone. All those plans I made are shattered. I’ve thought about trying to get into another school…but I am so disillusioned…so…frustrated, with what college was, that I don’t know if it’s even worth it. What’s to say it won’t take two weeks again before I’m back to my old ways?

I’ll be 29 in three months. 29.

For the last, almost 9 years of my life, I’ve been a cook. What job can I get? What job am I qualified for? Am I destined to be in fucking manual labor the rest of my life? I’m 28 years old with no degree and no experience.

Every dream I now have involves money that I can never achieve or see.

I haven’t even been on a fucking vacation…by myself or with friends…in 4 years.

I have no drive. I have no motivation. I have no willpower. I’m a writer who can’t even fucking write. I don't even know what I want to do.

How does one accomplish regaining that? How can I get back to the person who wanted to make something of themselves? Everything just seems so out of reach…so far beyond my grasp. So…pointless.

It looks like the start of this year will be the same as last year. A 28 year old unemployed, living at home, piece of shit.

That great birthday trip to the Bahamas? Yeah. Doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. I never even got my passport. Even if I did, what money am I going to go with?

For the first time in my life…I’m actually in debt. Because of medical problems.

What is my future?

I’ve lost hope.


  1. I don't have any definite 'easy' answer for you. My story is similar to yours, but I'm almost 36. I decided at 21 that instead of finishing my degree, I should get married. No degree, debt, divorce and 13 years later. . . I'm still trying to figure out what my path is supposed to be. I think that's the trick to life for those of us who think too much; we have something to figure out before we can move on with things. KSU is not the only school, and you can finish your degree somewhere else. You may be the thing holding you back, I know I am. My fears and insecurities are still bigger than my potential. . . which is pretty big. Hmm. I think I've rambled. Dammit.
    Don't give up. Figure out the next step, whatever it is, and take it. You have learned things, you have grown and matured, and you can move forward with your life. Don't fucking give up, you're better than that.

  2. I think the biggest thing here that I want to knock in your head is that you can't keep looking back and trying to grasp something that isn't even there anymore... Your life has changed. That's a done deal, man.

    From here, you make new choices... Define your life however you see fit. Your life really isn't all THAT bad, homie. You're just in a rough patch.

    "It’s not about how hard you can hit, its about how hard you can get hit and get back up!" - Rocky Balboa

  3. Deist, let me speak to you as a brother. I was that kid in high school. Smarter than anyone else. Confident, ready to take on the world and be the next great American novelist. One semester in and I was utterly humiliated by the fact that every other smart kid from every other school was
    now where I was. The competition was fierce and the rules were tough. You had no friends, just others who were there to outperform you. Could I write? Of course I could... but so could every other freshman in my classes and the pressure cracked my self-confidence and self esteem. I started spending more time at O'Phelans, the student tavern hangout across the street from campus than I did in classes. Me and the few friends I had would sit and drink for hours, solving the world's problems while blowing off assignments or turning in substandard work. By my second second semester, I began losing confidence in my talent and never really recovered. Convincing myself that I had nothing to offer as a writer, I quit. Got into the radio business and spent the next 27 years NOT doing the one thing I loved more than anything else in the world. I realize now that I threw away the greatest gift that God ever gave me, flushed it down the drain and will never get it back.
    You? You have the talent and the desire to put words on paper that will compel people to read what you have to say and the time on your side to make it happen. You are Ty Fucking Elkins and you have lived a life that gives you the perspective to see everything from different angles, to apply your experience toward creation of characters that a lot of people will easily relate to.
    Here comes the harsh part: If you don't get your head on straight and start writing for yourself and you alone, you'll never really speak to anyone else. If you sit around and bullshit yourself, making excuses about not finishing school being an impediment to your ability, you will fail. I can say this to you because it is ME. It's what I did and you don't have to follow that path. I have read your work and I know what you have to offer as a writer and I know that it is worthwhile. What you do with it now is up to you. You can forge ahead, degree or not and do brilliant work IF you apply yourself... or you can feel lousy, drink like a fish and wake up on your 56th birthday, hung over and stinking of cheap beer and self-pity, moaning over your lost career. Take it from a loser - You don't want that. You don't have to end up that way because you have the gift. Now, it's up to you to make the most of it. You go on and write - do it for me and make me more proud of you than I already am. I believe in you and so do many of us who know you and know your work. We are your friends but we are also your fans and we believe in you.
    Now, write!

  4. I can't speak for everyone you know, but you didn't ruin college for me. You made it better.

    Don't be afraid to switch gears and don't be afraid to ask for help. It's time to cowboy up and make some decisions.

    I'm here.

  5. I'm going to allow you a day or two to mope before I start mocking you.

    Yeah, life didn't quite tun out the way you wanted it to and that sucks. Coming to terms with the death of a dream isn't a box of rainbows, puppies, and unicorns. In fact, it's downright awful, soul-killing, and downright depressing.

    Here's the thing: The more you dwell on it and lament it's loss, the worse you are going to feel. Give yourself a few days to mourn and keep fucking moving. You're in the same place as you were last year? So it may be time to make some major changes and take some serious risks. There is nothing to lose at this point. Even if you don't get to where you want to go, at least you've tried.

    Also, you've had a several great thing happen for you this year. Don't discount those just because you're dwelling on the shitty things. Remember the amazing things. Focus on them and try to re-create them in the upcoming year.

    Okay, that's enough feel good crap. Man up, Mary, or I get to claim your balls as my own. And really, who wants a whining, ball-less sack of wuss? Hahaha...

    Now if you actually are unemployed, come visit me. You can work down here...

  6. "Don't fucking give up, you're better than that." I seem to remember someone telling me this when I was pretty lost in the sauce. and you know what? i listened. and shits on the up-and-up. my mind still wanders back to what life once was, and i still miss it, and im sad its gone. but ive got a new one now, and its exciting. its like rediscovering yourself all over again. you need something new. or maybe you need a literal whore to take your mind off things for a minute or two...