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The Measure of a Life

In truth, there is no future.

I should have lived a life markedly different and better than how things worked out, and I feel judged everywhere I turn. I feel as if I have to apologise for that life. For not conforming to the standards imposed by our culture.

I feel as if I have to apologise in advance because this post will seem indulgent and self pitying. I can't (and won't) help that; it's another cultural judgement.

This is not the life I would have chosen. It was not how I wanted things to be. I had dreams, but I didn't have the strength to realise them. That's my failing. Dreams are permitted only where and when they can be realised. Anything else is just shirking. That's the message.

I could tell you about the art teacher who didn't give a damn about the students when I was interested in art. I could mention the music courses that shut down while I was applying for them while leaving me with no clue as to what to do, or the education establishments that didn't care about offering any support in that context. I didn't even know what UCAS was while everyone else I knew at college was applying for university. I only went to college because the sixth form at my school weren't remotely interested - and I only applied for that because that was what you did. I had no idea how to live my life or how to do what I wanted. I was interested in things, but with no guidance I was adrift.

And that's how it's been ever since. Now here I am with nothing to show for it, except this self indulgent crap I doubt anyone will give a damn about. I never conformed and I paid the price for it.

Today I met someone in the street who has moved in to a nearby house; someone that moved away years ago and made a life for himself whom I knew as a child. Now he has a wife, kid, career and a nice home. Now I have to walk past it every day if I want to get around. Just one person in my neighbourhood I know will be judging me. That's what people do. I don't even walk out my front door these days, I don't need or aspire to the opinions of neighbours who, if they see me, will be thinking, hey, he's a joke. That's how we are socialised; it's the values of the Tory party as expressed in comments about inappropriately closed curtains.

We hide our lives behind appearances. When asked about our well being in the street honesty isn't required, just a polite acquiescence to the positive. But what can I say afterwards? Sure "I'm fine", but I'm not fine and I have nothing more to say - and if I say nothing then I'm rude and standoffish. I'm neither of those things, at least not internally. I care about people, but I care more about how they view me and so I'd rather not talk because talking reveals the paucity of my life and invites judgement. I'm not married, I won't be buying a home, and I doubt I'll ever have kids.

What are my options for changing this above and beyond the magical thinking that people indulge in when discussing the failings of another's life. Just pull yourself up by the bootstraps, or indulge in some cosmic ordering and wish it all into being. If wishes had currency, things would most assuredly be very different.

But they aren't. I have never felt comfortable in this society, or even in my own skin. That isn't a cry for attention, though it will be seen as such (as will that), it's a statement of fact. I didn't aspire to be created and I certainly didn't choose this fucked up society. But even expressing that invites more conformity: if you want to change things, get a job and vote. What good will that do? Plenty of people vote and nothing changes. Nor will it. First past the post Westminster style democracy is a pit of snakes and demagogues with no interest in actual change. No vote for a British politician ever amounted to a damn, and what compels these liars to even listen? We even make light of it, acknowledging that we understand our complicity in this charade, yet instead of accepting responsibility for this and addressing it, we blame the less fortunate or those we perceive to be lazy.

I don't see a future at all. I have a CV that's slightly less convincing than a blank sheet of paper. I have to compete in the labour market, both concepts I abhor, with that CV against people who have achieved more. My inevitable failure will enable society to dismiss my efforts and traduce everything I aspire to. I can't cope with the conventional work structures, but that will be seen as another excuse. The problem is that this isn't a two way street. They talk, I have to listen; that's the balance of power between state and citizen in this country. The DWP aren't likely to help me, even if they wanted to. Instead the government will hand money to private companies to waste on schemes intended to help, but never do, rather than actually give that directly to people to help them achieve something themselves.

In the end even that would be a sop. It's no substitute for a real society where people can take responsibility for their lives. When affored that opportunity they really can blossom, but our system stultifies genuine inner aspiration and replaces it with greed and ambition. A system where one must start out at 'the bottom' in order to reach 'the top', whatever that may mean. One must endure working through shit, in terms of pay and conditions, becasue that's character building. But I don't need to build my character, I need the means to live my life. I do not consent to be exploited and I don't need to be judged for not conforming to that exploitation.

There are no systems that can help. Mental health isn't interested in actual wellness, it is interested, at best, in simplistic triage. That why I'm continuously referred to a simple CBT service that will be over in a few weeks. A service that cannot address the root causes of the alienation I feel and that, like the rest of the medical service, seeks only to engage in victim blaming while using vapid excuses such as "other people manage" to mask it. This term has been put to me more times than I can count, yet it lacks any explanatory power and nothing to back it up is ever preferred, despite the asking. How do they manage? Who are they? What are they doing? Are their circumstances even remotely similar?

I had nothing to say to the person in the street and now I feel even more alienated. This isn't a personal attack. I do not begrudge him his life or his success at living it. I just don't want to be judged. I would rather he wasn't in the neighbourhood. Unfortunately there's nothing I can do about that except die inside a little more.


  1. Remember that life is not choice, it is always chance.

    Nihilism is a rational response to the chances you did not have, the predicament you find yourself in.

    It is not your fault.

    1. Unfortunately we live in a victim blaming culture - and one where pointing that out is just as bad, if not worse.

      It's going to be a very long time before there's any real change in this society.


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