“If two men who were friends in their youth meet again when they are old, after being separated for a life-time, the chief feeling they will have at the sight of each other will be one of complete disappointment at life as a whole; because their thoughts will be carried back to that earlier time when life seemed so fair as it lay spread out before them in the rosy light of dawn, promised so much — and then performed so little.”
– Arthur Schopenhauer
Seduced by the unknown
Summer is winding down. At this time last year I was working in the back of a clothing store, boxing up khakis to ship off to middle-aged men across the country. It sucked. The air conditioning was inadequate when compared to the size of the building, and the temperature indoors was basically the same as it was outside. During the late July heat wave that meant I was sweating in hundred degree weather.
During this time I didn’t have a lot of secondary sources of income. I had a little Fiverr gig where I did random jobs for people. It was unfocused and made me something like $36 for the entire month. Still, it was better than nothing.
I wasn’t going back to school that fall either. It was something that really worried me. I didn’t tell anyone because I was embarrassed. The only people I knew who had never completed college had either gotten pregnant or were too stupid and lazy to go to class. They had all ended up working lame jobs and dooming themselves to a life of mediocrity. It was pretty scary.
When your 20 it’s hard to imagine the future. Six months might as well be 1,000 years. You don’t really have a frame of reference. High speed Internet and microwaves have conditioned you for instantaneous gratification. Being told to wait on something sounds like stupid advice.
Fall came. I was still struggling with my goals. I felt depressed and alienated. While everyone else was talking about a teaching assistant who accidentally emailed her nudes to the whole class, and a girl who became a minor celebrity for getting drunk, I was putting pants in boxes and sending out emails every night. The only excitement that happened at my workplace consisted of an old lady getting heat stroke and a man having to go to the hospital due to health complications involving his weight. That was my life.
It took until September before I actually started to make any real money online. At the time I made a review writing service and it ended up earning me a couple hundred dollars a week. Not much, but better than anything else I had going for me. My first “big” purchase with my earnings was a road trip to Madison where I went to see Kid Cudi perform. On my drive down I realized that things might actually work out. There was a chance that I’d make it after all.
Looking back all of my struggles, triumphs, and worries seem quaint. However, all of my memories have a hint of sadness to them. I chose to take a different path in life and became different from a lot of other people. While it is easy to sit down and ramble about how “average people are losers,” most folks are pretty decent. Sitting and watching television might not be my thing, but it isn’t like Joe Average is throwing puppies into a bonfire or poisoning baby birds.
It feels like I left for some distant world and came back completely alien and unrecognizable. A lot of things have changed for me to the point where I probably won’t even be able to recognize myself. Last year it took me almost a whole summer to save up $2,000. This year I’ve spent that in a month. Last year I stayed at my parents house in Iowa. This year I have an apartment next to the ocean. Last year I had about as many skills as a dead dog. This year I helped someone start a side business and they are using the revenue towards buying an Audi.
I don’t want to sound like a whiner, but things are a lot different from how they used to be and it can be hard to adjust sometimes. A few weeks ago I drove through my old hometown. I was shocked to see that it looked exactly the same. The only thing that was different was me.
When you grow you have to leave certain things behind. You go to the gym and you stop eating pizza. You start a business and you stop playing video games. You meet new people and make new friends, they take over your social circle. You keep moving forward and everything that can’t keep up slowly drifts into the distance.