Admitting Defeat

Posted Saturday, November 2, 2013, 12:00 AM

I don't fit in. I never have.

From my earliest memory as a child in PlayCentre where I often sat quietly alone in the corner doing my own thing, through Primary School where I was constantly bullied and treated differently because I was good at reading and maths, to High School where I was the funny-looking weird kid who wrote stories and drew cartoons, to adulthood where I have struggled to find a job and where women have never found me even slightly interesting. This world just doesn't seem to have a space for me.

Life just keeps changing its rules, tripping me up with its shifting expectations, and, just when I think I've got a handle on it, pulling the rug out from under me again and again.

I've always been one who thought he knew what he wanted out of life, but didn't know how to get it. I wasn't in the right part of the world, or didn't know the right people, or didn't know how to ingratiate myself in amongst the right crowd. I had humble expectations and simple dreams, really, things that everybody else seemed to be able to achieve without too much problem. Things like having a family, or getting a job, or buying a home. Most people manage those things without too much trouble. Sure they often came with pitfalls and hassles, but they at least got to experience them, work out those issues, and then settle into a reasonably comfortable, if compromised, groove. But I didn't even get that. I occasionally sat back smugly when I saw somebody's life go wrong, thinking I was well out of it, but really I think I was missing out on what makes life worth living. I had nothing to be smug about.

And what does make life worth living? If you were to list the things that make most people happy and that give their lives meaning, I'd say most people would regularly experience seven out of the top ten throughout their lives. Whereas I'd be lucky to experience even three. Things like love, sex, sport, health, family, friends, food and drink, pets, I don't get any pleasure out of those. My happiness only comes from entertainment like TV and movies, a couple of niche nerdy hobbies, and my own solitude. And what sort of life is that?

I don't like socialising, it makes me uncomfortable, be it with strangers, colleagues, or acquaintances. I have had very few friends at any one time, and none have been very close. The only family I have are siblings and my Mother, but I moved away from them long ago and barely communicate except for the very occasional phone call. I have never been in a real relationship, serious or otherwise, apart from a fling so brief it doesn't count (she never cared about me, and subsequently I didn't care much about her - though to be fair we knew that going in).

It's not that people dislike me (I hope), but that I have no charisma, a very quiet demeanour, a sense of humour that's haphazard and quirky at best, and contribute very little to social interaction. I have no discernible personality worth speaking of.

And I have low self-esteem, everything that has happened in my life has only reinforced that. The occasional hints of something potentially working out as a good direction to head, that would ordinarily encourage me to continue down the path to, hopefully, success, fizzles out disappointingly, and I just get more depressed and lost.

I am not clinically diagnosed with any kind of disorder, there's nothing chemically wrong, I just have no self-motivation. I'm someone who needs support and advice and guidance, but yet I choose to live a solitary lonely life. These two things contradict each other, to my eternal detriment, so it's no wonder I am such a mess.

I think I have talent. I think I have skills that make me decent enough to make a mark, however insignificant that mark may be in the grand scheme of things. But my life doesn't seem to reflect that. I don't seem to be quite good enough to get noticed, to be employed, to be taken seriously, so perhaps I'm wrong and I'm just not good enough after all. That's a heavy blow to my self-confidence, and lately it's just been blow after blow after blow.

And the Entertainment Industry has changed a lot in the last couple of years. Job opportunities are drying up at an alarming rate, money is spread thin, and projects are shutting down. The branch that I have always wanted to get involved in, post-production and visual effects, is in the worst state it has ever been. Entire companies are closing permanently, which means there are more very talented people and yet fewer jobs available. Amateurs like myself have no hope.

For a while it seemed like amateur productions would be the new Media, with cheap equipment and software giving everyone opportunities to create high quality entertainment, and the Internet providing a new form of distribution. But almost immediately the lack of funding opportunities has halted its progress. Crowdfunding sounds like a good idea, but unless you have a tangible product to sell, you'll have very little chance of success. Low profile film productions are not succeeding. If you don't have years of professional experience, name-recognised celebrity talent involved, and the luck of high-profile visibility, give up now. The money is all going to projects that can already afford it.

It is thoroughly depressing to see my only hope for having an enjoyable life dry up right before my eyes. People more experienced and talented than I am are struggling to pay their mortgages and feed their families. Their only alternatives are to find non-Industry jobs, but those are few and far between at the best of times. It's a disaster, and I find myself right in the midst of it, with nowhere to turn.

It doesn't help that my ability to find and keep a job seems to be based on luck rather than skill or talent, and even when I am employed I tend to be taken advantage of, by being exploited or marginalised. While others leap up the totem pole of success, I am always at the bottom getting nowhere, and then am eventually forgotten about.

Most often my problems, such as they are, come down to lack of finances. In fact I'm very good with handling money when I actually have any, I tend to use it carefully and frugally, and am quite happy to do so. I have no desire to be wealthy (as nice as that would be) I only wish I could have a reliable source of income, something that would lead to financial security. But that's a daydream at the best of times.

Most people can find a job very easily - they figure out the career they want, make some key decisions about how to gain skills or ingratiate themselves amongst the right people, then things start to tip their way, they find a decent employer, work their way up the ladder, establishing a reliable source of income, allowing them to plan their lives for years ahead, and, barring a few unexpected bumps, they manage to negotiate their lives with relative ease.

While I, on the other hand, struggle to find any employer who will take me seriously, who will pay me what I'm worth, or who will treat me with any respect. Instead I trudge along on the cusp of unemployment at every turn, make poor decisions that haunt me forever, and constantly find myself scraping the bottom of life's barrel, eking out a pathetic existence. Eventually random luck falls in my lap again and something keeps me going for a little while longer, but I can't rely on that.

And now luck has finally run out.

Why not try the Unemployment Benefit? Because I have been down that route twice before, and it is a horrible way to live. Both times I was stuck in a deep rut that required luck rather than effort to get out of, and now we have a new Government who are even less sympathetic to those in my position, making things even more difficult for those with low incomes. And I am sick of it.

It strips you of your dignity, it keeps you below the poverty level, it forces you to do things that are not in your best interests but instead what others insist are where you ought to be, putting you in your place. I do not want to be in that soul destroying position again. That is no life.

I seem to be without any capability of sorting my life out. Too many chances have been repeatedly squandered, and I have achieved nothing. Now I'm too old, apparently lack the talent that employers are looking for, and am too easily exploited. I am wasting my time, the world has no place for me.

I was feeling quite depressed as this crisis solidified. I froze, my brain clouded over, and I couldn't seem to get up and fix things. I had never felt so alone. Then my Mum visited and I started to feel a bit better. One of my close friends got out of his own funk and we had a good chat, and I cheered up and felt a bit more optimistic again. I started to think I could get myself out of this mess I had found myself in.

But now that a few more days have passed, and I can see things a bit clearer, I feel like I am looking at things somewhat more objectively. And when I assess my life, at what it could've been, what it actually was, and what it might be, I see no improvement in store. All I see is struggle and unhappiness.

The world is not a very pleasant place to be at the moment. It's full of hatred, abuse, greed, selfishness, and misery. I can't change it. I'm no better than anyone else in coping with it. I may even be part of the problem, with my lack of motivation. A horrible future is laid out ahead of me. It frightens and worries me.

So here I am, out of money, out of time, out of energy. And I just don't care anymore. I can't see that life has anything for me if all it will be is a constant struggle to keep my head above water. And what would I gain? A low paying job I'd hate? A lonely empty life of no reward? And then one day I'll die, alone and unloved? What sort of future is that?

So I can't afford to keep what I'm doing. But I can't afford to fix things either.

I'm sorry for all the promises unfulfilled and plans unfinished. I'm sorry for anything I've done that hurt or hindered anybody. I'm sorry I wasn't a better organised, more productive person.

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