I just don't have what it takes to improve my lot in life I thought I did everything right to make the cut to survive I don't have what it takes to struggle for years for a small chance of success in the distant future I don't have what it takes and it's hard to keep hearing I do from people that mean well but don't see that I'm already drowning I don't have what it takes to hold myself together or muster the mental fortitude to do more there isn't anything left inside to give I don't have what it takes to try harder than I am right now it's embarrassing to try to explain that this is everything I've got
Most days it makes me feel better to pretend I’m not a human being. I don’t feel like one most of the time. I’m just some strange type of yet-to-be-documented animal. When I think about life through this lens, it makes it a little easier to get through the day. I feel like I don’t have to be so hard on myself for not being what I’m “supposed” to be. In fact, it makes me feel pretty proud of myself that I’m able to blend in so well, given I’m a totally different, alien species.
When I start to feel depressed and inadequate for not having some kind of grand inner direction or drive toward a specific personal goal, I ask myself, what is my dog’s “goal in life”? Does my cat have some secret grand ambitions she works towards tirelessly every day? Well… to be honest she actually might, at least in the summer when she can go outside and try to catch the birds around my neighbor’s feeder. Even so, that’s at best, a short-term goal. She’s not trying to start a bird catcher company or achieve world-wide recognition for her hunting skills.
The human world makes it seem so obvious and natural to have some kind of “mission” in life. For as long as I can remember people have been asking me what I want to do or what my goals are. As if it’s just a given that I have these external desires to aim for. I’ve always felt like there was something wrong with me for not wanting anything like that. I’ve never been a very ambitious person. I just want to be happy and enjoy what I have, like my precious pup as she snoozes most of the day away as usual. I spend most of the energy I could perhaps use to inspire me to do something just trying to blend in with the “normal” people all around me. I don’t have the mental capacity to also be contriving some business or magnum opus.
It feels inherently shameful to be idle as a human. It’s like something is forever being expected of me. But being a random creature, such as myself, I don’t have to be weighed down by societies expectations. However I exist in the world by default is perfectly correct and enough. It doesn’t make me bad to not “achieve” anything in life. In fact, it’s bizarre that was ever the standard set by humans. Human beings have always been the weird, unnatural outliers of the animal kingdom. It’s not that I don’t fit in, I just fit in better with the majority of mammals more than people.
It’s hard work to be part chameleon and pretend to be so different than who I am every day. And it’s perfectly understandable that it takes up all of my excess energy. Sometimes others will say, just don’t pretend then, be yourself! As if this would make life easier. They don’t understand that, unfortunately, for me “being myself” would literally not allow me to survive. “Being myself” would be not pretending to be polite and make small talk with people. It would be not going to work and just vibing all day. It would be my complete and utter demise. I would be broke and completely isolated from everyone else. It’s a lot of work to pretend, but I’ve got to do it. However, as long as I remember that I am just pretending and I don’t have to live up to the world’s idea of a person inside my own inner mind and soul, then it isn’t so bad.
When I think of life in this way, it’s a lot more fun to be me. I get to feel sneaky and silly for how well I’m able to trick the humans into thinking I’m one of them. I get to just exist in my free time without pressuring myself to do more without a looming sense of guilt. I don’t have to feel bad for being incapable of understanding the vast majority of the population and their motivations/interests. I can just marvel at the insanity and take my little notes so I can try to keep assimilating better. It’s quite exciting and enjoyable to be whatever I am in a society of strange things called humans. I highly recommend it for anyone else that feels like they’ll never be able to live up to what they’re “supposed” to be.
One of my favorite things to watch online are lifestyle vloggers. But it can be hard to find a good pool of content, given I am only interested in the vegan ones. Even so, I never get tired of watching them. There is just something so immensely soothing about watching the picture perfect life of someone else. It feels inspiring and motivational, but also comforting, as if I’m spending time with a close friend.
There homes are always so bright and beautiful. There plants are all huge and healthy. White linen, candles, big open windows, picnics, fresh healthy food, and tender moments between partners. It all just makes me want to sigh and keep watching forever. To lose myself in this postcard existence of another. Until… it starts to become overwhelming.
There is a certain point I always reach, where I just start comparing my life to theirs’ and feeling bad about myself. Strangely enough, it usually isn’t because of the aesthetic differences. I’ve never cared much for having money or an extravagantly decorated home. My crumbly little cave is quite good enough for me. (Although, I do wish I had the time and energy to keep it spotless like them.) No, what really starts to make me feel down is their seemingly superior ability to maintain a productive work schedule, to work for themselves, edit and upload videos, and make progress towards their career goals.
One of the most frustrating parts for me is the confusion. Why can’t I do that too? It’s not like I am unable to keep routines or stick to a schedule. My routines and schedules just happen to not be very useful or productive in the long run. All of my hobbies and habits are small and focused on the moment. It is unimaginable for me to set big, long-term goals for myself that I can work towards incrementally in those same hours I allot to more frivolous pursuits consistently.
It’s partly about not knowing where to even begin setting up something like that, but it’s also my fear of commitment to any one interest. If I do something that can be completed in an hour or two, I have a reasonable expectation that I’ll be able to maintain interest. However, if I begin a project that will take a month, or a year, I am second guessing myself the whole time. Is this really worthwhile to me? Will I be able to make it to the end result? What if I lose my drive and I’ve ended up wasting a huge chunk of my life on something that was never even finished? With me, losing that initial motivation and interest just seems inevitable. It feels pointless to even begin.
The more I learn about myself and my mental health, the more I think this has less to do with personal failures and more to do with ADHD. Still, that doesn’t make me feel much better or less frustrated. Am I really just incapable of completing big projects and reaching more lofty goals? It sure feels like that’s the case. Maybe if I keep trying and allow myself to fail, I’ll learn more about myself and be able to find a way that works for me eventually.
Until then, I’m just going to keep gaining that feeling of fulfillment and contentment vicariously through watching others live their best lives. Sometimes it feels like that’s all I’ll ever be able to do. But either way, I’m grateful for their content and the warm, fuzzy, inspired feelings they give me.
Through the Cracks
When it feels unsafe to show myself I sneak through in sudden slivers cracks in the glass, window shards tiny spotlight beams shining out revealing the very worst parts of me A charming flame behind a hearth that cracks and pops quick embers to be franticly stamped out on the rug not fit for polite company or the presence of people who turn away from the dancing heat I don't know if I've ever seen someone else who hides like I do, or maybe they're just better at holding up their painted pleasing mask no sudden tears out of seemingly no where to surprise and confuse a perfect evening Surely people must wonder at the moments I lose the carefully crafted composure I've clutched after days of endless, irritating effort with others they must feel the sudden shift of energy in the room when I shrivel inward, when I turn cold and quiet Giving myself a few moments' respite from the white-knuckled grip on my own struggling soul a second to catch my breath and be real retracting my artificial warmth from an otherwise empty room Occasionally I'll hear a half-hearted, "What's wrong?" that is easily assuaged by a hollow, "Nothing, I'm fine." a confirmation of being utterly unseen happy to believe me and go back to pretending as soon as I reapply the artificial smile Unlike the rare few who know they've now seen behind the uncanny valley facade of self they don't let it go when I step back behind the screen no longer satisfied with what they've realized is fake brave enough to seek me There aren't many people who care to uncover the glimmer that steals between the cracks most people easily accept the mask I suit them better that way I'm used to not being seen
Do I want a diagnosis? I still can't decide would it be soothing to have a name for my shortcomings? Part of me would be relieved to know I'm not just a failure that my inner struggles are more than just imaginary that they have medical substance It might be a comfort to know my distraction and distress my lack of tolerance for frustration in any form are not merely personal faults But what if a definitive label would be something I would use as an excuse to clip my own wings in yet another new way a limit to my possible potential It might reinforce my self-doubt assure me that I'm inherently limited in my creative and cognitive abilities a dark stain on the one part of me I've always felt proud of The older I get, the less sure I am that this brain is something superior the intellect of the collective world moves forward as it gets tangled inside it's own inner alleyways unable to keep pace with progress If I'm not the smartest person in the room I'm not sure who I am at all left doubting the one thing that made me feel safe in myself unable to trust even that
Extroversion takes energy the one woman show I perform cannot be dropped in front of another No one knows the immense effort it takes to make conversation and answer phone calls to smile and be presentable and friendly For once I'd just like recognition for all the inner work I'm doing to fit the mold society expects of me It's hard to accept I must spend my limited mental resources on tasks other people do on autopilot Never knowing if my performance is enough wondering if little slip ups have gone unnoticed and made me look arrogant, careless, and rude It can take hours or even days to return to a sense of internal equilibrium after an interaction an animal trembling and pacing from stress Violently shaking off the charged emotional energy is generally frowned upon by polite society so I choke it down and hold it in People say "be yourself" but I've always known that didn't include me when I speak a different language entirely Misinterpretation and misunderstanding my wires are tangled and connected in ways that do not translate I've always felt like an alien endangered by my innocent inability to blend in envious of how others make it look so easy