3 Damaging Relationships You Can't Get Away From
Have you ever told someone how much you hate your boss? How, in a just world, your boss would be a sewage diver, struggling to free errant turds of unusual hardness from pipes deep beneath the city so the rest of us can shit in ignorant bliss, never knowing what a filthy task he is up to day in and day out, and if we did know, if we ever caught a shiny, brown glimmer of his excreta-covered hide creeping up from the depths, we would neither be sympathetic to his plight nor pause to give him a second glance because, in this just world, we would all know he was in that sewer with the turds because he himself was Man-Turd, that asinine twat waffle of a human who is so loathsome and so devoid of good character and wit and wisdom that he needs to dredge through the sludge because it is the best and only place for him? If so, why did you go back to work the next day? And the next?
"I've seen your lackadaisical turds. They'll never amount to anything!"
Sadly, we live in a world in which it is easier to change nothing than to change the world around us. We adapt beautifully to all manner of situations and people, but this skill for adaptation is a double-edged blade that has made us adapt to relationships that benefit us not at all. We adapt to deal with these scurrilous circumstances when we should rightly make them adapt to us. But it's much easier to say that than make it a reality. Is the purpose of this article to grace you with bizarre, obscure new info? No. It's to make you question why we never question these things in the first place. Come, I'll show you.
The family dynamic is a tragic blessing for mankind. On the one hand, if all goes as planned, you are born into a strange world full of strange things with some kind of link to it all. You have a family that will protect you from bandits and sinkholes, and feed you and teach you the ropes. You, enfeebled and incontinent baby, have "people." You won't have people again for a long while, if you ever do. Many of us fend for ourselves after a certain age. But for the first run, you're on cruise control while everyone else deals with your struggles. It's a cushy gig.
Unfortunately for lazy babies and the rest of us, nothing meant to go as planned ever fully goes as planned. Not all of us have Mom and Dad and 1.3 brothers and sisters in a minivan with a Jack Russell. And even those who do sometimes have to wait for Mom to take her abundance of pills before she gets into the van and then we listen to Dad criticize her for being vapid and distant on the ride to Grandma's anniversary dinner where they ruin everything by screaming at each other. Then a week later Dad has his own place and all he makes for dinner is canned pasta and menthols.
"Eat it or die, no one around here cares anymore."
In a few truly extreme circumstances, we will reject our families, but this is generally an exception to the rule. Most of us probably know someone from an abusive background who has gone on to live a life free from that which came before. The rest of us have these bonds we feel obligated to acknowledge. Blood is thicker than water, as they say, and a lot of people, at least on talk shows, feel that really means something.
The proliferation of zany sitcoms and hilarious Greek wedding movies has demonstrated very adequately that we, as a society, know that families are often bullshit. Your mom may very well be an insufferable racist. If anyone else in your life spewed the kind of hate she did, you'd cut them off without batting an eye, but because it's your mom, you put up with it. You endure these relationships because you feel an obligation to family, whether it's a deadbeat brother, a crazy uncle, a drunk stepdad, or who knows what. You put up with bullshit because of genetics. You didn't ask to be part of this family, and yet you keep inviting them for Thanksgiving even though it's literally the worst day of your life every year.
"I'm thankful I roofied my own drink."
So you have a choice and it's clear as day and yet few people ever make the choice: avoid or confront. Whether it's the whole family or just your aunt who keeps calling your aspirations to be an actor "fucktarded" in an effort to keep you as down and miserable as she is, for your own peace of mind, you need to do something. The idea that you tolerate family just because they're family is antiquated. Why should you adapt to their idiocy? Why can't they adapt to you? Why are their wrong views (and in many cases it's really that simple -- some people are just flat out wrong) better than your right views?
Don't let family bully you; it just makes you resentful and distant. If you actually like the idea of family enough to make yourself miserable on their behalf, you should like yourself enough to slap the shit out of them, at least metaphorically, and put them in their place so you don't have to be miserable.
Making a living can straddle the line between being the easiest and the most difficult thing a person will ever do. If we take it for granted that few of us will ever be born to riches and not have to worry about employment, and few of us will ever embrace a monastic or nomadic lifestyle and just live with whatever the world provides for us like nutritious beets and a comfortable bed of peat moss, then we acknowledge, for the most part, that we must all work. We all have to do something, to contribute in some way. And to our benefit, there are literally millions of ways to do just that. But it is in that "millions of ways" that many of us get lost and we can't see the forest for the trees.
I guarantee that a large number of people reading this hate their jobs. In fact, I will say you can lump the people who will read this article into three categories -- those who hate their jobs and wish every day for a meteor strike to wipe their place of employment from the map, those who like or at least tolerate their jobs and would prefer not to be smote from the heavens, and those who don't have jobs at all and are known to eat meals of nothing but saltines. And that encompasses the entire population, employed and otherwise. That was easy.
If we just take the people who like their jobs and those who have none and pick at them a while, we're apt to be able to categorize them as people who have hated jobs, bosses, or various forced labor camp scenarios in which they have found themselves in the past as well. It's an animosity I'm getting at here, one specifically related to working, to the task of making a living. It's very easy to hate work, and yet, as we can see, it defines us as a people. We need it, necessarily. Why so angry, workers of the world?
"How can everyone I talk to literally be the most retarded person ever???"
I recently read about workers at a grocery store who, for religious reasons, would not touch pork. So when people bought pork, a common enough item to find in a grocery store in the Western world, they would not assist them in purchasing the items. Wouldn't scan them at the register or bag them up. Now, religious ideology aside, what on Earth motivates you to get a job knowing you are restrained from performing the tasks required by that job? That's kind of batshit crazy, don't you think?
The answer to my batshit query is yes. Yes it is batshit crazy. Who lives life like that? Most of us! We get jobs we don't want. Many of us do. That baconphobic fellow probably doesn't want to be an asshole, he just became one through a series of poor decisions. Afraid of bacon? Don't sell bacon for a living, it's not going to work out for you. Hate sitting in front of a computer all day? Don't be me, you're going to be less than thrilled with how things turn out, despite how handsome and well hung you'll be.
Unfortunately, as any of us who have gone on a job search know, providence is almost never hiring. If it's been your dream since childhood to be an astronaut and your only formal training is watching Armageddon, you're going to settle for a job elsewhere. You're going to become a janitor. Or a line cook. An accountant. A bus driver. The sound guy on a porn movie shoot. You're still important, you're making an honest living (or as honest as a sound guy on a porn shoot can be), and you have nothing to be ashamed of, but if I know you as well as I knew myself when I was scrubbing the time-lost, rancid grunge from under a 100-year-old relic of a refrigerator at a shitty hotel I worked at one summer, you have some anger and frustration about doing something you never really wanted to do in the first place, rather than something you have to do to pay your bills. And then you have your boss.
"Gonna need you to stay late every night this week to scrub the fart smell out of my leather chairs. No extra pay, k buddy?"
Some bosses really are assholes and that's unfortunate, but somehow worse than the asshole boss is the efficient boss who doesn't give a shit about you beyond who you are as an employee. He's not unfair, but he's not your friend. He gives you tasks and pays you for them. He's a cog in a machine in which you are a smaller, less important cog. And you will hate that son of a bitch for every shift you are scheduled for that you never wanted, every last-minute task before your day ends, every small thing that's part of your job anyway but that makes you angry because you don't like it and never wanted to do it in the first place and he's the face of your unhappiness.
And tomorrow you'll go back to work again. And the next day. And the next. Because you need your job. You need to pay for Netflix, for the food in your fridge, for gas, for all kinds of shit. You put up with work for the benefits of it. You endure rather than enjoy. But know this -- first, your boss may not be a monster. He may be just as unhappy as you and just stuck enduring his job. Second, it doesn't have to be that way forever. Many people want the security of a job -- you work in this bakery making Twinkies and you will work here forever -- but there's no reason to limit yourself to that. You can always aspire to something different without fear of reprisal. A promotion at work, an opportunity somewhere new, going back to school, starting your own business, all options that people do all the time. Why not you? You're reading my article, and only truly wonderful people do that, plus about four assholes, but they're going to say something dumb in the comments so we'll be able to identify and ignore them.
It's easy to get into an angry rut -- hate job, hate boss, hate life, beer, masturbate, sleep, aarrgh. But don't lose sight of how work is a means to an end, not an end in itself.
Related: Happy Birthday, Badass - August 2
What do you want out of life? Do you know? Do you change your mind constantly? You could probably honestly answer "I don't know" to all three of those questions. Doesn't matter who you are. And then tomorrow you could have a firm, positive answer for all three, and the day after be back at "I don't know." In life, you are your own best friend and worst enemy at the same time.
Rarely will you meet a person who is more damaging to you and your well being than you are. Now of course, if you wrong Steven Seagal and he comes after you with slow, sloth-like jiujitsu and then throws you down an elevator shaft onto a pile of waiting dropkicks soaked in rubbing alcohol and salt, he's clearly a less than benevolent influence in your life, but even in that situation, it bears asking what it is you did that put you in such a Seagal-affected state of being.
The sad truth is, your fears and desires and idiosyncrasies are what make your life wonderful and abhorrent in turn. For instance, I have a deadly lack of motivation, and I absolutely hate it. I often use myself as an example in my writing, and in part it's a means of therapy. I want to be better than what I am. I want to be loved and admired for what I can offer others, and I want to engage with others who have wonderful and new points of view that I can enjoy and learn from. I want to be a good man who is funny and intelligent and rich, not necessarily monetarily (although I would like to buy a jet ski that comes with a sidecar full of beer and barbecue chicken), but rich in experience. But I'm not that man. And I can't say if I ever will be.
"Oh Felix, you jet ski barbecue so much better than this random shlub."
People are willing to give us the secrets to the universe all the time -- to happiness, wealth, getting laid, long life, good health, and baking a perfect apple pie. But it comes down to our own willingness to act on these desires and do something with them, doesn't it?
I want to go for walks, but I rarely do. I want to spend days at the beach, but I don't. I want to embrace a beautiful stranger and share a meal and good conversation without fear of rejection, awkward silences, or expectations that something bad or weird is going on. But I don't.
I have no motivation, and I have never understood why. Actually, that's unfair. I have motivation; I have piss-poor implementation and follow-through. I look at myself and want something more and I have literally, out loud, told myself to change behaviors I exhibit. Get off your ass, Clay. Turn off the Xbox. You have prune hands, stop masturbating. But holy shit is it hard. Unlike that pun, which was easy.
The great conflict in life is knowing what you should do and making yourself do it, because 9 times out of 10, what you should do and what you want to do just isn't the easy thing to do. This is why so many people struggle with something seemingly as simple as weight loss. You think I make beer and chicken wing jokes at random? I could live off of those things, at least until they kill me. I really don't want to, though, and I buy so much fresh, healthy food that I could choke a pack of llamas to death with it all. But at the end of the day, I'll still pop a burrito into the microwave instead of cutting up that pineapple in my fridge because fuck me, that's why.
I wish I could quit you.
I like to think one day I'll smarten up. One day I won't have to celebrate the small victories I make when I do get off my ass and do something. But I don't know for sure that I ever will. Going to get your license renewed is not the same as finding Bigfoot, but it's still better than peering out the blinds at those neighborhood kids who have no idea what'll happen if they step on the lawn again. No idea.
I'm sure every day someone wakes up wanting to play the guitar, talk to the boy or girl of their dreams, leave their shit job behind to travel the world, stand up to someone, help the homeless, read a great book, plant a tree, and a million other things. But we don't. Fuck.
You are your own worst enemy, unless, as discussed, you've made an enemy of Steven Seagal. But you don't have to be. I don't have to be. I think the easiest way to circumvent this frustrating circle of self-destruction or self-inflicted stagnation is to introduce another self into the mix -- this is why people have workout buddies, a friend to keep you motivated. It doesn't always work, but it does help to understand that you are not alone and you are not a failure insofar as everyone wants to keep things easy. Hard work is just that -- hard. It's so easy to not do it. But it's also worth it quite often to get it done. There is very little a human can't do when properly motivated; just look at the remarkable thing pornographers are doing that you never even thought of before. We see amazing stories of triumph every day, and becoming a better person doesn't need to be as extravagant as learning to walk again after weasels eat your knees. It's doable. Do it! I should do it, too. We could do it together. It'd be fuckin' boss.
Whether or not anything comes from this, random words from a random Internet comedy writer, know that we're in a boat together, you and I. Whatever you want to do, I want you to do it. I really do, even though I can't possibly know who you are and what thing it is you want to accomplish, because I know what people are like when they take that chance and it pays off. I know the world benefits from people who achieve great things and are more at peace with themselves, and are happy and satisfied. I know it is good to be good and I want that for everyone as much as I want it for myself. And, more than anything, I wanted to end this with a dick joke.