#2. "It's Not Just Me Getting Screwed, It's Everyone I Know!"
In general, the members of any particular group of friends tend to share each other's traits to a certain degree. Rich people tend to hang out with other rich people. Sports fans hang out with other sports fans. All of my closest friends are in comedy or have freakishly large penises. The same was true about the group of unmotivated, jobless friends I mentioned earlier. And let me tell you, there is no reassurance on earth as powerful as what a support group provides.
"Hey, it's not your fault, man. Look at me -- I haven't had a job in six months. There just isn't jack shit in this town." But if you had asked any of us when our last application was filled out, the honest answer would have been "weeks." It's not all about laziness, although that was certainly a factor for myself and many of my friends at the time. It's that the more you hang around with other people who are justifying their failures with excuses, the more realistic those excuses sound. And getting on someone else's ass who has the same problem as you ... well, that's exactly the same as admitting that you're just as fucked. So in that situation, reassuring your friends that nothing is their fault and everything will be just fine is, in essence, saying it to yourself. Eventually, you just talk yourselves out of any hope of ever progressing in life.
"I wish I had my own car to lean against and be devoid of hope."
Hanging around that group is a safe, warm, comfortable place to be because nobody is putting pressure on you to get up and fight -- there is only reassurance. "What can you do? It's the economy. Might as well enjoy what we do have: friends and beer!" Again, I don't mean to just harp on jobs -- it works for anything in life. "We're better off alone than dating any of the people in this town. They're all rednecks and dumbasses." "Give up cocaine? Why? There's nothing to do here except get fucked up." "Being a fan of Nickelback and Limp Bizkit is nothing to be ashamed of. We are all good people with great taste in music."
There comes a time when you have to grit your teeth and separate yourself from the things that are holding you back, and the unfortunate thing about this one is that there's a good chance you're going to lose some friends in the process. Because the sheer act of you fixing your life changes your perspective and philosophy, and that is going to set you apart from the group. Not to mention that in making the effort to grow in your job or relationship, that commitment is going to take up an immense amount of time. And while they have hours and hours to kill, sitting around and talking about how much the world has fucked them, you're going to be out there doing the things they say they can't do themselves.
Like mastering snakes.
They will resent you for it because you're proving them wrong, and because you're not spending as much time with them as they'd like. "What, that slut is more important to you than your friends? You think you're better than us because you got a nice job?"
Does that group always collapse when one of the members makes it out? No, but then again, you don't get herpes every time you fuck someone who has it. In my experience, it happens far more often than not. But that's what sets you apart as an adult. Adults prepare for it and accept the consequences. Children stay in the same situation, because upsetting their friends and leaving that comfort zone is too much to endure. And God knows you don't want to lose the respect of people who only hand it out during pity party circle jerks.
What's the nicest way to tell them all to fuck right off?
#1. "I Just Haven't Been Given a Chance Yet!"
There are plenty of things that I'd love to go back in time and kick my own ass for, but that one is pretty high on the list. That was my go-to excuse for not progressing in life, and I used it motherfucking everywhere. "I can't believe they gave her the assistant manager spot! I know more about this gas station than anyone -- this is bullshit!" Or "I can't believe she's dating that dickhead. What does he have that I don't? This is also bullshit!"
In both cases, if I had just been given a shot, I know I could have been the best they'd ever seen. In both cases, I never let them know I was interested -- not even in passing. In both cases, the person who got the spot went after it full force. That ... kind of sounds bad, but you know what I mean.
"I claim this woman in the name of Chad!"
In my own life, I'd sit back and wait for things to come to me, partially because I never had anyone teach me how to go out and get those things. Partially because it's what we've been taught in pretty much every movie ever made. Win the big race, and the girl finally realizes she loves you. Do something even slightly worthy of praise, and the owner of the company pops out and says, "I like your style. Come talk to me on Monday morning and we'll get you set up with a big office and your own secretary to urinate on." (I'm guessing that's how it goes -- I don't actually watch many movies.) There has always been a very clear message of "Just live your life to the best of your ability, and life will shoot rewards out at you like one of those T-shirt bazookas."
That's even reinforced in your everyday life throughout childhood. Do a great drawing in art class, and the teacher holds it up in front of everyone and gives you praise. Good writing is read as an example to other students. Exceptional report cards might earn a few bucks or a night out with dad at the local brothel. But in the adult world, rarely does great work ever get past the "Good job -- now get back to fucking work" stage.
"I'd address you by name, but I'll never remember it. From now on, you are 'Report Guy.'"
Though it does happen from time to time, rarely do promotions come to you without you ever making it known that you're interested in moving up the ladder. Rarely does that girl or guy suddenly look across a crowded party and say, "Oh my God, it was you I've been looking for all along! I can't believe I've been so blind! Touch my hunch monkey!" Not without some genuine effort on your part.
But that's the thing ... using this "I've never been given a chance" excuse is the most effective defense mechanism in the ego's entire arsenal. Saying it puts the blame for your failures on the shoulders of the other person. It's certainly not your fault -- hell, you're the one with all the untapped talent and passion to be the best they've ever seen. How could it possibly be your fault? It also keeps the world from knowing exactly how good you really are, outside of all the talk. If you did make the effort and you did get that position or relationship, and it turned out that you were just average, everyone can see it. Relying on the excuse allows you to talk about how good you would be if only other people were wise enough to notice.
In other words, in your mind, you get to be the best without ever having to prove it. And there aren't many things more comfortable in life than being the best at something without ever having to experience the stress of actually being the best at something.
"One day, I'll be the best shirt wearer ever, and then they'll see."
Again, everyone goes through this stuff. If you're one of the people I'm describing here, I'm not saying it to make fun of you or imply that you're somehow beneath the rest of us. I learned this shit 15 years later than I should have -- I'm a worse offender than almost all of you. I wish I could go back and follow my old self around so I could catch me in the act and say, "There. You're doing it right there, fucko. ELBOW DROP!" But since I can't, maybe I can save a few people some future embarrassment by letting you know that it exists. Because it exists. And you will eventually be embarrassed by it.