The Thief of Joy

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I feel like I’ve lived my entire life comparing myself to other people. In fact, one of my personal theme songs from my mid-twenties was a pop-punk ballad from emo-centric band Fall Out Boy that contains the prominent lyric, “Half dead from comparing myself to everyone else around me” (oooooh, so much ANGST!). And Mondays are the start of it all.

On Monday morning, I’m usually struggling to wake up. It’s already much later than I should be sleeping anyway, and I’m fully aware that the more successful and motivated people of the world were already up hours ago. Rather than wearing name brands and trying to look good like my fellow young professionals, I’m dressed in jeans, my favorite beat-up hoodie, hair anywhere and everywhere but in my eyes, and whatever else makes me comfortable. My car is dirty, covered in stickers on the back dedicated to everything from Star Trek to grammar, and it’s monstrously loud to the point of causing strangers to look at me with alarm when I pass by them in city-bound morning traffic. Instead of a drop of coffee in my loaded cup of milk and sugar, I need at least two or three cups of coffee with a dash of creamer and Splenda before I can even consider truly waking up and joining the living world. My glasses are on my face and they aren’t really just there to help me see. They’re just readers to help magnify things on screens to eliminate eye strain but they also block out blue light and help me prevent migraines but I’m pretty sure everyone thinks I’m just trying to look like a hipster.

Instead of being able to relate to my coworkers when they’re complaining about or are missing their spouse and children, I’m spending my days missing my cats. And let’s be honest, Tigger is pretty indifferent to my presence either way most days. I go to lunch in the company kitchen and inevitably heat up some frozen entrée — I’ve never ordered pizza or Jimmy John’s at the office or gone out to eat somewhere else during my lunch break. Around 2:30 pm, I am so tired. Everyone else is still working diligently, focusing on what they need to get done before the end of the day. Most days, I am too. But that’s because I don’t want to fall behind everyone else. By this point though, I usually can’t get my mind away from the fact that I just really want to take a nap. I’ll occasionally stop and ponder to myself whether or not it’s enough. Whether I’m doing enough to make the company happy to be sure and also whether or not it’s enough in the grand scheme of things. Will this office and this job and this role that I’m fulfilling for them ultimately make a difference?

Penelope Garcia = <3

At the end of the day and some days I head for school at the local community college. It’s not Butler University, where I had dreamed of going in high school, but let’s be honest: There was never a chance of private school ever happening for me. And by this point, do they even admit 32-year-old losers like me? My student success class categorized me as the “non-traditional student,” whatever that means. Two of my classmates think the worst thing in the world would be not having their degree by the time they turn 30. Maybe they’re right. I just hope that I can manage to get my degree at all without failing or accruing debt up to my eyeballs. On the nights that I don’t have class, I usually head straight home. It’s either hitting the books and doing homework or vegging in front of Netflix or some other form of entertainment. This always makes me feel like I’m just wasting time. Successful people probably don’t even have Netflix. I bet Charlize Theron and Ryan Gosling don’t watch Netflix. But I can’t help it. I gotta see one more Criminal Minds episode. What’s that delightful Penelope Garcia up to tonight?

Though I’m a vegetarian, dinner probably still consists of something crazy unhealthy like meatless everything from Taco Bell. I clean the litter boxes and make sure the cats have food and water. Am I doing enough for them? Are they happy with me or would they truly be better off with a different family? What if we got a dog, too? Wait, am I crazy?! Planner and journal time. It looks terrible and I’m frequently off-schedule. The spreads are ugly. How do the planner elite make everything look so spiffy and efficient? I take my medications and I’m usually in bed by midnight, even though I’m scrolling through Facebook or Reddit or playing some lousy mobile game to keep my mind occupied from thinking about everything else that’s wrong with me or the world and what I still need to do. “I gotta finish that assignment by Thursday.” “Am I drinking enough water?” “How can I start fitting exercise into my day?” “Does Rufus think I’m mean if I don’t play with him at 3:30 am?” “Is there any of that chocolate cake left?” Zzzz… Eventually drifting off to sleep and dreaming of what life would be like as someone else.

Then I wake up and start the routine all over again. God, I hope it’s almost Friday. Is today the day that I finally go ghost on everything and just run away?

When planning my week out, I decided to use a few more stickers than normal. As I’ve previously mentioned, I’ve gotten a little crazy about stamps, stickers, stencils, washi tape, etc. due to my new planner habit and I wanted to make my spread look a little more fun this time around. On Monday, I used a sticker that I thought had a really profound quote that would inspire me going forward. That quote was:

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

-Theodore Roosevelt

Monday was the perfect place for that. It’s the beginning of this awful self-degradation cycle. But Monday should be the one day that I especially wake up and feel happy. Instead of feeling gloomy, I need to be waking up and reminding myself that I’m awesome and so is my life. I should be excited to go out and BE awesome. So what if I don’t live up to everyone else’s standards? Do I really care what all these people, most of whom I don’t even really know, think of me anyway? I like being different. I’m happy that I have a job and make okay money. I’m happy that I have a comfortable home life and two cats that I love and adore. I’m happy that I’m in school and finally trying to make myself into something better. I’m glad to be a dweeb and a weirdo. It gives me a different insight and perspective into the world. And though I make strong claims about hating people, I think it helps bring them to me. Nobody wants another clone in their circle of friends. We want diversity. We want to learn new things. And I think we do that by taking a chance on the big weird guy.

But since we’ve been watching Criminal Minds, maybe just make sure he’s a safe big weird guy first.

 

Want to be friends with this big weird guy? Leave me a comment below or sign up for an account and start a conversation in the forums!

About Joseph

Joseph Black

Joseph Black

According to Wikipedia, I discovered magnesium and carbon dioxide, so that's something.

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