I ask a lot of questions. I’ve always asked a lot of question. If there was a prototypical annoying 3-year-old who wanted to know the “Why?” of everything, just look at a picture of 3-year-old me and that’s the kid. It never stopped.
I still ask myself a lot of questions, but the one I find myself returning to quite often these days is, “When can I just be done?” I am so completely frustrated with attempting to navigate through this crazy, fucked-up world and am so ashamed of who we are as a species and a Murican society that I really don’t know that I’d care much if someone oopsied the nuke button and blew us all to hell. It’s kinda what we’ve earned, isn’t it?
I’m frustrated on a personal and societal level, to be sure. There are the things going on in the Middle East that really don’t even need any further commentary, especially from some middle-aged white dude in Missourah. Those things make my own personal issues extremely trivial by way of comparison, and I understand that. No one has burst down my front door and shot my infant child because of a differing view of the Creator.
I’m most definitely not saying, “But my problems are bad, too.” What I am saying is “And I don’t see a whole helluva lot of good in my little corner of the universe either.” So it’s not as if I can just bury my head in the sand and have some rosy outlook on life because the shit going on overseas isn’t affecting me and, thus, somehow less real. What I see in my own life is pretty shitty, too.
I recently left my job. There are a bunch of reasons, and I can’t legally discuss them, but suffice to say that I was not exactly a cultural fit there. I had a glowing review, received a great end-of-the-year bonus that I wasn’t technically even eligible for, and then it was time for me to go. In this, I see yet another example of a bullying boys club drenched in alcohol and shitty standards winning. And that pisses me off.
I have a side gig, so I’m fine for now, but that doesn’t make the sting of how quickly things went south any less.
Then, there’s my personal life.
Late last year, I bought two tickets to the Nov. 3 Metallica show in St. Louis. I didn’t have anyone in mind to go with at the time, but my thought was, “Surely with all the effort I’m putting in to getting out there and meeting people, I’ll have something approximating a friend by then.” Here we are, a few weeks before the concert, and I’ve got no one. I asked a few people. They are varying degrees of busy. So now I’m wondering … do I fucking go to the concert alone and if I do how goddamn sad is that?
Part of this effort to meet people and get out there in the world has been to create a monthly poker night. And it’s been fun, the several times we’ve had it. But more and more my texted invitations to the people who supposedly might give a crap about my existence are met with silence or a variety of reasons why this night or that night won’t work. I even had someone tell me that a date nearly a month out might not work because he might have a honey-do list. A honey-do list? That has to be done on a Friday night? In which we have a time-limited game that would keep you from your home for about three hours? Seriously? Fucking seriously? I made up better excuses for why my homework wasn’t done in sixth fucking grade.
These poker night invitations go out to nearly two dozen people, and all I need is three others who want to come hang out for a few hours. Three. Three. The fact that these nights are now routinely getting cancelled for lack of attendance is infuriating. I’m mad at them. I’m mad at me. What exactly is so bad about me that hanging out, playing cards, drinking beer (or not), watching sports … that that is a bridge too far for people to make some goddamn time?
So I return to that question over and over and over again: When can I just be done? I have tried so goddamn hard … to fight through adversity, to rebuild myself, to put myself out there, to go into the uncomfortable zone again and again and again, and when I look around, what exactly do I have to show for it? More scars. That’s what. And I’ll tell you … I had plenty of goddamn scars before people convinced me that the key to my future happiness was, once again and repeatedly, putting myself out there.
What I’ve learned is “putting yourself out there” is synonymous with “getting kicked in the balls,” and, frankly, I don’t know that I want to keep doing that. Exactly no one has invited me to anything they’re doing, and yet here I am, repeatedly asking people to carve out a few hours to do something fun that doesn’t involve a kids activity or a goddamn honey-do list.
I’m told I’m not supposed to take this personally. But how can I not? The people finding all sorts of reasons not to do anything with me, who never think, “Hey, maybe John would like to go hang out somewhere,” come from a wide variety of sectors in my life. If you had to place a bet on whether it was all of them or whether it was me, the sheer number of people on the former side would tell you that it’s me. Me. So what exactly is it that’s wrong with me?
I am sick and goddamn tired of being repeatedly slapped in the face by people who say, “That’s not what I meant” or “That wasn’t my intention.” Fuck your intention. Fuck what you meant. Why am I the one who’s doing the asking, the planning, the hoping that maybe someone will give a damn?
So yeah … I’ll go back to that question: When exactly can I be done?