When I was like 12 or 13 I quit football seemingly out of nowhere. I was a “good” player, or as good as a little doofus kid can be at football at that age. I was a hard worker at practice and in games. I listened to my coaches. I hustled everywhere. I was the model peewee football player. After school one day before practice, I was hanging with a few of my friends in a nearby cul de sac; we were skateboarding and hanging out, having a good time. When my sister came by to pick me up and take me to football practice, I was just like “nah, i’m not going.” I refused to budge. She went home, and eventually when I went back home later, I told my parents I was done with football. I cried myself to sleep that night. I don’t know why. I didn’t want to keep playing football anymore, but I also missed playing football. It was two conflicting emotions but they both existed in my brain and just made it overload and my reaction was to just cry in bed until I fell asleep. Although I felt this tug in both directions, somehow, something in me knew I made the right choice, but I still was freaking out.
This is kinda how I make a lot of major life decisions that other people would otherwise take a lot of time to think over. I trust my gut reaction. I trust this sense I have. This feeling. I deal with how it shakes out later, including my own personal reactions. You can’t always trust your emotions. I think that’s the point of this essay, or something like it. Emotions are dumb. I’m dumb. People are dumb. Game of Thrones is dumb.
I hated college, or my existence in college, or whatever. Passionately. I was barely alive. I stopped showering for like, three weeks at one point. Didn’t do laundry all semester one time. Lived briefly out of my car. I remember waking up one day and drinking old mountain dew code red and eating stale cookies before walking to the bus stop to head to class. I'm lucky I survived college outright with how bad my depression was, and yet, I look back on it fondly now, like it was some idyllic time in my life. Like, “ah man, I wish I could go back to eating chicken patty sandwiches, french fries, and twinkies for every meal and watching 10 hours of pirated tv shows every day” or “I wish I could go back to pulling multiple all-nighters within the same week because I had no time management skills whatsoever and I had to get these papers or readings done by any means necessary for my 8:10am class and I probably shaved real time off my life from the sleep deprivation.” Oh, to be back there.
The point is, you can fucking hate something, loathe it with everything in your being, and then when it’s gone you can miss it. You’ll work so hard to create space in your life to fit this shitty thing that when it leaves you, you now have a self-created gap inside you. You became, at least partly, defined by your survival of your hardship. This applies across a spectrum of enjoying things and hating them, and also on another spectrum of how little or much you miss it when it’s gone. It’s all variables. X’s and Y’s baby.
I don’t think there’s really any logic to it, to be honest. Emotions don’t need logic. They defy logic. I loved skateboarding when I was growing up, and I miss the shit out of it now that it’s not in my life anymore. I hated working for a newspaper in college, and miss the shit out of it now that I’m no longer on the staff.
Unexpectedly, I sort of enjoyed high school when I was in it. I really just thought it was fine, ya know. I had a bunch of friends, did fun stuff, and generally just sort of enjoyed my existence across the board. I don't miss it at all now though. It’s gone and I’m fine with that, wholly.
This is what being a shitty flawed human is all about. We assign all sorts of values and emotions to everything we do, everything we own, everything we experience in any way. Our emotions don't have to follow logical structures. This mouse i’m using right now? Had it for eight years. Bought it after I broke a shitty one that work gave me. I love it. I will mourn it in some small way when it finally gives up on me. This pocket watch my dad gave me when I was six years old? Yeah sure, whatever. It’s fine. I don’t really care about it. Humans are stupid and complicated for no reason. It’s fun and awful.
This is why people casually keep tabs on their exes or their old friends via Facebook and Instagram even though they have moved on from the relationship. We want nothing to do with these people any longer, but we also weirdly kinda want to know what they’re up to. Odd. It’s normal, but we act like it’s not.
It’s why you hate-watch that show on Netflix when the new season releases. You hate it. It’s bad. It’s stupid. The situations are contrived. The characters are flat. It’s a hack piece of shit. You’ve watched every episode more than once. You are a day one viewer for every new season.
Reasons like this are why you have to be really careful about what you do every day. These things become you. Whether or not you like it, you’re going to get weird emotional attachments to things you do day-in and day-out for years. This is why the trope of an undercover cop losing his grip on “who he really is” is so prevalent in TV shows and movies; that shit really does happen. You can lose yourself when you're just pretending to be someone else. Or pretending to be a different version of yourself. There is no pretending, unfortunately. You are who you pretend to be.
Strapped for work, you get a job at Target. You wake up every day and every fiber of you has to act like you give a shit about which aisle the Avengers toys get shelved. You have to act friendly to people who are too stupid to figure out that dog food is not in the human food section. You have to use the company line as your official greeting. You own 3 pairs of khakis and 4 red shirts now. You find yourself wondering if you should get some more red shirts, so you have to do laundry less often. But you also want to change up your look slightly. You start complaining to other co-fakers at Target about the shittier employees. The ones who can’t re-stock the Avengers section correctly. The ones who divert customers to you every single time. You feel some pride that you always handle customers, or “guests” as you now internally adopt the Target-approved language. You realize you are no longer pretending to be a Target employee, you actually are one. It’s happened underneath you, and swallowed you whole. Fuck.
I worked at target once. I hated it at times and loved it at times. I don’t miss working there.
I’m leaving my current job tomorrow. I’ve hated it and loved it. I won’t miss working here.