On the Human Condition, And How to Work Through It All [Dear DBN]
Insecurity is a terrible thing to feel, especially when you consider we inflict it on ourselves. This week, we investigate the inner tremors of two lost souls that might as well be every single one of us.
“Have you ever dealt with feeling hopeless about finding a job? I feel this intense pressure since most of my friends work for big-name companies and I’m doing a temp job while I look for something permanent. Oh, and I live with my parents while I save up, so there’s that… I’d love to hear your thoughts?”
I’m sorry, did you say you’re sensibly saving money while staying with parents kind enough to take you under their roof while you work a job that allows you enough time to seek and apply for another job that will bring you not only financial security, but hopefully a little bit of joy? Is there someone there to restrain you? Because you really need to stop beating yourself up.
What you are dealing with is the rat race. Welcome. You are not alone in your dislike of it. Let us assume for a moment that the rat race is a literal race, and all you’re looking at is your friends a few miles ahead. They’re in front of you – it’s sort of hard to look at anything else. But you need to zone out and look inward. Check your own breathing, stop to stretch out a cramp, get distracted by the birds, drink some water, and get your head in the right place so you can set a good clip. You aren’t here to win, you’re here to have a good time. Your friends up ahead might win. But some of them will trip, some of them will find shortcuts, some of them will just give up out of nowhere; they are not how you pace yourself. You pace yourself internally.
It is frustrating and disappointing and annoying when life is not perfect. Obviously. But you cannot let “hopeless” be the word you choose. Hopeless? Really? You’re tired, irritated, embarrassed, but you’re not hopeless. Acknowledge that your life is not what you want it to be, and that’s OK. Really. It’s seriously OK. And it’s going to probably take awhile to get it to where you want. So six days a week, ask yourself, “What can I do today, small or big, to actively attempt to make my life better?” That’s all any of us can do. And on the seventh day, watch Netflix and drink wine, because life is a silly thing and you’re doing just fine.
“I’ve never been in a serious relationship with anybody, which, I’ve gotta admit, really embarrasses me. I’ve dated and met guys, but for some reason it never works out (whether that’s my fault or the other person’s fault or just bad timing, I still don’t know). There’s a part of me that’s always wanted that perfect, intimate relationship with someone, and another part that’s so afraid of being committed. Bold moves advice: Should I keep dating/searching for that guy, or wait for him to come to me?”
The human condition is that we seek companionship, understanding and love. So long as you are living your life, you are both seeking and waiting on a grey scale of openness. Lasting intimate relationships have been rare for me, too. There are a litany of excuses and comparisons and vague reasons I could attribute to this, but trying to discern the Why is nothing more than psychoanalytical muscle flexing. What you need to discern is what you want, and what the best ways are to not just find it, but to let it find you. And if the answer is, “I don’t know,” then let that be the answer. I don’t know if I want a relationship, but I do want to be more well-read. I don’t know if I want to be committed, but I do know I’d like to meet more people. I don’t know if I want something serious, but I do know I’d like to run a marathon.
When you’re feeling listless and lost in one area of your life, just give another area more direction. Streamlining your energy is like creating an ice luge… eventually, everything starts to fall into line. Before you know it, you’re drunk on success and happiness.
But back to the bigger problem: being embarrassed about never having a serious relationship. I’ve yet to read anything that genuinely relieved me of humiliation. We’ve all been there, yeah but I’m there right now. It’s not a big deal, but it sure as hell feels like it. The only person who notices is you, and I’m with me the whole day! As adults, embarrassment is often self-inflicted. Other than the occasional stereotyped relative asking why you never have a boyfriend, it’s pretty rare that anyone will call you out on being consistently more single than not. The only person calling you out is you because you’ve led yourself to believe that regular serious relationships are the ideal. They certainly seem to be the norm, but don’t discredit the life you’re living by believing them to be the ideal, to be the end-all-be-all. Don’t be so closed-minded to think that your own life isn’t unfolding the way it should. Do not allow yourself to find shame in being alone. Instead find caverns and novels, find out of the way pizza places and poorly written books about adventure. Find a little faith in yourself that having a committed relationship is nice, but it’s nothing without an education, an imagination, and a well-investigated and cared for relationship with yourself.