Monday, August 6, 2012

Please Do Not Read This Post - You Were Warned

This post will be where I throw myself a pity party.  A well-deserved pity party, of course.  Who, in their right mind, would throw a pity party for themselves without believing they deserve it?

Anyway, it will be uninteresting to most so, feel free to move along.

I am mediocre.

A month or so ago, I read a pithy article on some guy ranting about the fact that young people today believe the lie that they are special.  I think it was a teacher or something.  Basically, the idea was that society keeps pumping self-esteem pills into these young blokes, telling them that they are really awesome and will do great things when, in reality, the majority of them will die alone, having lived meaningless lives.

I'm there.  I'm that young-ish person.  The one that was told that I had the potential of being something great, of doing great things.  As a matter of fact, I am told this almost weekly.  Some person comes out of the woodwork and validates my personage, telling me how awesome I am and that the world would be a sad place without me.

But I know better.

I know how I am as a dad.  I'm damn good at times but a pathetic failure most times.  As a husband, I crow about my wife like no other man I know - and I mean it with all of my heart.  But that doesn't mean that I am the best husband ever.  Quite the contrary.  I slip all the time.  I yell and swear and am a prick and a veritable ass all the time.  (No.  The "nobody's perfect" line won't work on me.  I know better.)

I am a terrible camper.  A horrible person to have along on a vacation.  I care more about a clean house that I do a happy family.  When a motel owner tells me that my kids should be quiet so the other guests get some sleep, I care more about the other guests than to realize that my kids had been cooped up in a van for the last eight hours and need to blow off steam.  Who the hell needs sleep before 10PM anyway?!!  I'm angry at myself for my skewed priorities.

I began to write a blog in 2011 with huge dreams.  I have realized a few of those dreams.  I have many followers and have gained many new friends.  But I wanted to write full time.  I thought, in April of 2011, that I would be the next Longfellow by now.  And yet I find myself in the same dark motel room in a flourescently lit bathroom, hardly larger than a dog kennel, writing a note to myself about my failures.

I leave on vacation and the office goes to hell in a handcart.  No, not because I'm not there to hold it together.  Quite the contrary.  Every bone in my body tells me it happened because I am a mediocre programmer - just like everything else in life.  My coworkers had to leave their families for a whole weekend, just to clean up messes that I might not have created, but my mind tells me I contributed to them.

I went to school for Computer Science and ended up tops in my class.  I was a good student.  But I walked away feeling as if I learned nothing practical for real life.  Since then, I have learned on the job everything I know and yet still feel so inadequate.

I have nothing left to say - which doesn't surprise my mediocre brain.  At least I can make people laugh.

I only wish I could make my family laugh all the time and love every minute with me.  I hope tomorrow will be a brighter day.


  1. I would love to make my family laugh again... love again. We all try all we can... want to have the best intentions and hopes... but sometimes life happens. We always have tomorrow.

  2. Dude, I'm so totally there with you. My house is a worse mess now at the end of two months' unemployment than when I was working 40+ hours a week and barely had time to help keep it clean. It's taken me two months to land another job, and it's part-time, with an hourly wage of 80% what I made at my previous job. My wife's photography and overwhelmingly selfless donations from friends and strangers are the only things that have kept a roof over our heads and the lights on for the last month. I feel like a miserable, lazy failure of a father/husband/man.

    But my amazing wife (and here I go bragging about her, despite the fact that we fight at least as much and about subjects at least as stupid as any normal married couple) keeps reminding me that nobody can always pull all the weight all the time. That's the point of marriage. That's the point of family. That's the point of friendship. And that's even the point of loving "neighbors" we've never met. We're all in this together.

    If you've got a business, if you've got a family, heck, if you've got a life — you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen.

    And Joe, you ARE that "somebody else" in the lives of more people than you may ever know. And I'm not saying that like a Hallmark card — I'm saying it because I know firsthand that it's absolutely true.

    Five years ago I expected to be a college graduate working as a graphic designer and pulling in at least $30k by now. Instead, I'm a broke, married guy with a kid that cost several grand I still haven't paid back since I'm constantly worrying about losing our apartment or car — or running out of gas. I never finished my second year at the community college, much less a bachelor's or master's degree at any reputable design school. I'm not great or famous or rich or successful.

    At least not yet.

    But I'm happy. Life right now isn't great, but it's going to get better. I don't see our problems as abysses, but as delays in reaching our goals. I still have every intention to become a wealthy, respected graphic designer. We still want to move to Portland or Seattle and live in a cushy six-figure house on a cushy five-or-six-figure salary. I still plan on being a multi-millionaire before I die, though I'm still fuzzy on the details.

    You have more life going on than I do right now; I realize that. But don't let your dreams die. If this community-college dropout whose only hope of avoiding eviction is begging a parachurch organization to pay his rent for August can still hold onto his dreams, so can you. Especially since you are the reason a lot of us are still able to dream.

    Never underestimate the impact you have on the world. It's not always the impact you're looking for ... sometimes it's a lot bigger and better. I fully expect you to be a renowned author, retiring on a yacht at the age of 50 with all of your kids' Yale educations fully paid. But don't be fooled ... you're already a success. Right here, right now.

    Hang in there, buddy. You're one of the truly great men I know.

  3. These made me think of you today, you are not alone:

  4. Hi Joe,
    I will not pretend to brow beat you with platitudes because Andrea told me that she likes to put things out there like this, but she is always met with concerned comments about her self-esteem and such. She said the best thing she would like to hear is "Yeah, you are pitiful, but we love you anyway." So, after spending a great couple of days with you and your incredible family, I would like to be the one to say that although you are mediocre and pitiful, we have the highest regards for you. We all miss you and Abigail was sure we would visit you camping again. We are hoping to see you all again in the near future. We felt a bit of a bond with your fun family. Hope for the rest of your travels you have a nice time and can blog from a place that is not the bathroom. Blecht!

  5. Paula G V aka YukimiAugust 8, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    I think you are very brave. When I feel dissatisfied with my life or disgusted with myself (which it's quite frequently) I'm unable to share it and here you are in all your raw essence. That's an admirable quality.