I Don’t Think That I Can Handle This Right Now

Bo Burnham released a new special on Netflix last Friday.  Make Happy.  I know that his brand of comedy is polarizing, but if you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend stopping what you are doing and taking an hour to watch it.  It is, simply put, incredible art.

Bo is undeniably honest and genuine throughout his entire performance.  That may seem odd, considering how scripted the show is, but there is not a single moment that I felt that he was not being true to himself.  His jokes were an extension of him, the material an example of his perspective on the world.

The structure of his jokes and the show as a whole felt like a look into his mind, allowing us to see how his thought process works, drawing parallels between things that most wouldn’t consider.

The final segment of the show is where Bo becomes extremely personal with the crowd, having an honest discussion with them, explaining why he does what he does and what he tries to be.  These last 15 minutes resonated with me more than I could have imagined.

Putting It Out There

This post has been a long time coming.  Not because I’ve been waiting for Make Happy., but Make Happy. has inspired me.  It’s weird to think that an hour-long comedy show is what got me to this point, but in my mind, I don’t think anything else could have done it.

No, this post has been a lifetime in the making.  That isn’t me being dramatic or abstract.  My entire life has made me who I am at this very moment, sitting at my computer, carefully organizing my thoughts so that I can express them in the most effective way, because I don’t know that I can afford to screw this up.

I’ve told a few people this over the last few years.  Some family, some friends.  The reception, honestly, could have been better.  I get it: people don’t know how to talk about this.  It’s uncomfortable.  We don’t know how to respond.

For the past 3 years and change, I have been suicidal.

Boom.  It’s out there.

Quite frankly, I hate that it’s almost taboo to talk about.  I think it’s silly.

But don’t take me making a joke after revealing that as this isn’t a serious matter.  It’s beyond terrifying to have to deal with, but I am, fortunately, in a good state of mind right now, and we all deal with things differently.  I, personally, love to make light of dark situations, especially my own.

Quick example: my dad was bitten by a tick recently.  He went to the doctor, gave some blood to get tested and told us “They’re going to check to see if the tick was carrying.”  Instinctively, I responded with “Like… guns?”

And scene.

Now, back to the dark stuff.

How To Talk About It

I think this is probably the most important thing I can cover right now.  I’ll get to explaining how I got to where I am in a bit, but if there is anything I want people to take away from this, it’s having at least a starting point for how to talk about suicide.

From here on out, I’m going to be speaking generally about people who are suicidal.  Obviously, everyone has their own story, their own problems and their own ways of approaching them, so behaviors and preferences will vary.  But from what I’ve come to learn through my experience and personal researching is what I’m going to share.

It takes courage to admit to anyone that you are suicidal.  If someone is admitting this to you, you better believe that they have spent countless hours trying to work it out in their head, trying to figure out how to deal with it without having to be a “burden” to anyone else.  Yes, we are afraid that we will be a burden to the people we tell.  We don’t want to add to the list of things everyone else is already worrying about in their day-to-day life.  We know everyone has problems, and we don’t want to be one of them.

Here are some tips for how to talk about suicide:

  • If someone tells you they are suicidal, please, DO NOT dismiss what they are saying.  Do not respond with “You’re having a stroke of bad luck” or “I have days where I just want everything to stop, too.”  Dismissing what they are saying will make them instantly regret opening up to you and may make them doubt reaching out to anyone when they need help in the future.
  • DO NOT assume you know what they are thinking or feeling.  Unless you have battled with being suicidal (in which case, you probably don’t need this advice), you don’t know what is going through their head.  Ask non-leading questions, encourage them to expand on their answers, be patient and allow them to say what they need to.  Please, do not interrupt them.
  • No, you will not “fix” them.  There is nothing wrong with them that needs “fixing.”
  • Ask them what they need.  DO NOT assume you know what they need.  Again, they probably have spent an unbelievable amount of time processing it and trying to find solutions for how to deal with it.  For you to jump in with “the perfect solution” — even with the best of intentions — is insulting and belittling, and it won’t help.
  • DO NOT make it about you.  DO NOT guilt them into thinking about how devastated you would be if they did something to themselves.  This moment is about them, not you.  Suicide, contrary to popular belief, is not (always) selfish.  Not in the eyes of the person committing it.  Yes, some people are looking to escape the suffering they are dealing with.  But there are also plenty of people who feel that they are causing the people around them to suffer, that they are a burden.

Follow Through

Following through is one of the most important things you can do for someone who is suicidal.  It’s almost cliche for people to say “If you ever need anything, I’m always here for you” or “If you feel like you’re going to do something, please call me.”

Those things are great to be told.  You feel like “Ok.  I’m getting somewhere.  Someone cares about me.”

If you are going to make that offer to someone, know that they are taking it very seriously.  They may be hesitant to call you or talk to you again in the future, but if they do, you need to be there.

And I get it, people have lives.  Sometimes you’re just not by the phone or there’s some reason you can’t pick up.  But you need to remind yourself that if you see their name on your phone, that they might really need you.  And while that might scare you at times, make you fear that this might be the call, remember that your fear of picking up is nothing compared to the fear they are calling you with.

Additionally, following through involves checking in.  No one wants to open up about what they are dealing with, only to have no one check in about it and make them feel like no one actually cares.  Calling and checking in helps the person dealing with being suicidal feel more open about their struggle, which helps alleviate the pain of dealing with it on their own.

Getting Here

I’ve dealt with anxiety my entire life.  For me, it came with being introverted.  I never did anything unless I was sure I could do it right.  I’ve always been quiet because of this.  I used to, and still do, run entire conversations in my head, thinking about every possible response to each thing I would say so I was fully prepared for a conversation, all before I even said a word.

So it’s always been hard making friends.  It’s hard to live in the moment when you’re trying to plan out the next one.

Laughter is always directed at me.  If someone laughs, unless I make a joke, I am the cause of laughter.  So I reevaluate everything that just happened, try to figure out what I did wrong, and establish a list of things not to let happen again.

Yeah, I know this doesn’t make sense.  It’s a frustrating and, quite honestly, exhausting way to live.  But that’s how my brain works.  It’s how a lot of introverts work.

About 3 and a half years ago, something big happened in my personal life.  I’m not going to throw anyone under the bus, because I still care about them very deeply and we’ve reconciled.

But at the time, this happened and I was alone.  I didn’t have anyone.  I felt like I had pushed my friends away, I was at a college where, even in my junior year, I didn’t know too many people, and I didn’t know where to turn.

I spent a lot of time in my dorm room.  No roommate.  No friends in my townhouse.  Just me.  I spent a lot of time thinking about where I was in life and how I got there.  The anxiety forced me to think about every single intersection in life and the turns that got me there.  So I quickly became depressed.  And once I became depressed, with no friends and so desperately wanting human connection, I became suicidal.

I never thought I’d get out of the rut I was in.  Yes, I was suffering, but that wasn’t what I was trying to escape.  In my mind, I was poison to everyone I ever came in contact with.  People left my life because I wasn’t someone worth keeping in theirs.  There was no reason for me to keep going if every person that came into my life would come to the same conclusion and leave because I wasn’t good for them.

3 years ago, I told someone that I had only known for a few weeks that I was suicidal.  That was the first time I admitted it.  The next time was not until a year and a half ago, to my parents.

I’ve told a number of friends and family members since, and the responses have been all over the spectrum.  And this is why I know what advice I can offer to people who need to know how to talk about it.

I’ve admitted being suicidal in the heat of an argument, only to have it brushed aside and never acknowledged again.

I’ve admitted it during a deep heart-to-heart on several occasions, only to have those people never talk to me about it again.  Never ask me how I’m doing.  Never be there when I need them.  Nothing.

And I don’t blame them.  I can’t.  It’s not who I am.  I know that they have their own lives, their own problems they are dealing with.  I won’t hold it against them, because I don’t want to be a burden.  I’m not their responsibility.

If I’m going to be honest, part of it is also me not trusting some people.  That’s not to say that they aren’t trustworthy.  But when I get to the point where I need to call someone, sometimes I don’t because I’m afraid of what will happen if they don’t pick up.

I’ve had friends I’ve tried to get one-on-one time with so I can open up to them about this, but never get the chance.  For months, I’ve so wanted to see certain people in my life to tell them all of this in person, but I haven’t been able to.

I’ve had friends who have been through this that I’ve called when I’ve needed help, but they don’t pick up.  Or check in later to see what was up.  These are people that used to call me when they were cutting themselves, or drinking with the intent of poisoning themselves.  I was there for these people when they needed me, and they always said they wish they could return the favor.

So the anxiety and depression kick into overdrive and make everything worse, because if these people that I spent so much time helping and supporting can’t be there when I need it, am I really that significant in ANYONE’S life?

Words Are Hard, Even For Me

I’ve tried talking about it before.  I’ve tried writing about it before.  Writing’s easier for an introvert like me.  Before I hit “Publish” on this post, I’ve reread it ten times, deleted large chunks, rewritten others, and I still won’t be happy once it’s out there.

But I’ve tried putting these thoughts out there.  I was once told that I was completely wrong with how I was thinking about suicide.  Imagine that: feeling suicidal and then being told that you don’t know what it’s like being suicidal.  If that doesn’t screw with your head, I don’t know what will.

But I want it out there.  Being suicidal, suffering from depression and anxiety, they’re all part of me.  None of it is going away.  They are my cancer.  They will always be in me.  I just need to learn to deal with them.  I need to learn how to cope and not let them control me.  But I will own them.

If You Are Suicidal

Please, reach out.  Tell the people closest to you.  Print out my advice if you think it will help and have them read it before you say a word.  It will brace them for the subject and hopefully keep them from making any mistakes.

There are numbers to call or text if you need help.

Talk to a professional.  I was totally against it for the longest time, but having that positive consistency in your life is a good thing.  Don’t feel obligated to stay with the first one.  Keep trying until you find the right one for you.  My first one was beyond terrible.  But you’ll find one that you connect with and it will be worth the search.

I Want To Help

If you need help, ever; if you need someone to talk to, regardless of what time of day or night, I want to help.  If you are a friend, you have my number.  If you are a stranger on the internet, message the Facebook page for this blog, and I will do what I can.

No one is alone.  No matter how much you think so.

So, the only question left is: what the hell does this have to do with Bo Burnham?

Being Genuine

I live my life to be the best person I can be.  Plain and simple.  Call me jaded if you’d like, I’ll take that as a concession.

I had someone once very close to me say, “You’re so full of yourself.  You act so genuine.  People like you don’t exist.”

I have my morals and I live my life based on my beliefs.  I went vegan because I want the best life for myself, for the world around me and for future generations.  Veganism was the way for me to do that.  I didn’t do it because I wanted to have something to hold over everyone else.  I don’t think I’m better than anyone who isn’t vegan.  I don’t put myself up on a pedestal.  Being vegan has been an incredible test of self-control and determination.  But I wanted to stop causing suffering and destroying my body and the environment.  I want to live my life as consistently and contradiction-free as I can.

It’s a shame that person said that, because that person used to inspire me to be genuine.  But like being suicidal, I am going to own being genuine.

At the end of Make Happy., Bo talks about how his biggest problem in life is his audience.  He says “Part of me loves you.  Part of me hates you.  Part of me needs you.  Part of me fears you.”  He wants to please his audience, make them laugh and give them what they came for.  But he wants to be true to himself, talk about things that are important to him.  And he struggles with finding that balance.

Bo Burnham has resonated with me since I first came across him.  He doesn’t shy away from involving serious topics in his shows.  Being funny is who he is, but so is caring about people and society.  His performances are genuine.  They are him.  He is living his life as himself.

And that is who I want to be.  I want to be someone who lives life as himself.  I want to talk about the issues of the world and not care that people will think I’m conceded or self-righteous, because I know that I am being genuine.  I want to work towards my dreams of making a difference in the world and people be inspired instead of asking when I’m going to get a job or tell me I’m not aiming realistically.

I know who I am.

I am someone who wants to create art that will inspire the people around me to create further change.

I am someone who does not believe in God, but I believe in people.  And as much as I love people for the beauty they create and the passion with which they live life, I hate people for how senseless and selfish they can be when destroying everything around them, especially each other.

I am someone who wants to help every single person that I can, regardless if I’ve known them my entire life or for just a moment.

I am someone who is struggling with the world around him just as much as he is with himself.  I am terrified of everyone else and what they are capable of just as much as I am of myself.

But I am also someone who is inspired by the love I have seen people radiate and that I know I have been able to give.  I am inspired because I know what it is like to live each day for myself and for someone else, and I want to experience that immeasurable level of joy again.

This has been a long time coming, but I know who I am, and I am alive.

Midterm Elections Are Tomorrow

Consider this scenario.

You have a son in his sophomore year in high school.  He’s in his rebellious phase, as most teens are, but no more so than everyone else.  He isn’t the best student in his class, averaging C’s in almost every class, but again, things could be worse.  All-in-all, you are thankful that he goes to school, is passing and does not get into an unordinary amount of trouble.

One day, you find out that he has an addiction problem.  While he has said that he has been going to the mall or playing football with his friends, he has actually been getting high at a friend’s house or getting drunk at parties, which often led to getting into fights and running from the cops.  Your first reaction is shock and denial, but when you confront him about it, he admits it angrily and storms out of the house.  You are left alone, blaming yourself for not being involved enough in his life.

You ask him about the next day, begging him to stop what he is doing, desperately trying to show him how dangerous and destructive it is.  He refuses to change his ways and ends the conversation saying that he has been stealing your money to pay for his lifestyle and that he will find a way to continue it no matter what.

This continues for another week.  You plea.  He argues.  You cry.  He yells.  Finally, you are able to reach a compromise: he will cut one of his addictions out of his life, but you must support the other by willingly giving him the money he needs.

Considering the week you have just had, you accept the compromise, afraid of what the alternative would mean.  You choose to give him the money he needs to buy alcohol every week.  You are never happy about it, but you comfort yourself slightly knowing that he has given up the more reckless lifestyle.


This is insane, right?  No one would look at this situation and say “I don’t mind that he’s getting into fights and running from the police, but at least he isn’t killing himself with drugs.”  The converse is also true.

If any of us were presented with this situation, most of us would work as hard as we could to steer our son in a positive direction.  We would seek help, additional solutions, but we would never give in and support one very harmful act because “at least it’s not two.”

And yet, midterm elections are tomorrow, and everywhere I look, this is exactly what I am asked to do.  I am asked to choose between the lesser of two evils, often with the justification that voting is not a right, but instead a “civic duty.”  Really?

Australia is one of 11 countries that has compulsory voting.  Individuals over the age of 18 must vote, else they are fined $26.  If voting was a civic duty, there would be fines associated with not meeting it, as there is with skipping jury duty or not completing the census.  But that is not the case, so are we really obligated to any extent to vote?

Let’s forget about whether or not we are obliged.  Let’s look now about why so many people do not want to vote.

The expected turnout rate for midterm elections tomorrow, nation-wide, is 15%.  Again, that is nation-wide.

There are plenty of people who voted for Obama in 2012 and said, “It’s not that I want him to be President.  But I don’t want Romney to win.”  The converse is also true.

I’ve used that line before.  Where was that…?  Oh!  My hypothetical situation.

We wouldn’t be ok with a compromise like that in our personal lives, but when it comes to politics, we are made to think that voting is crucial.  No, necessary.  But that is not true.

If I didn’t like Al Gore in the 2000 election, I would have had to vote against him to ensure he did not win.  (Notice that I said I would vote against him.  I would not have voted  for Bush, but against Gore.)  I would then be partly responsible for the fact that there was a president who invaded Iraq because he “was sure” there were WMDs there.  (SPOILER: There wasn’t.)

This is the mentality the majority of Americans share: we know that politics are corrupt, but we continue to vote to protect ourselves from the lesser of the potential outcomes.  One guy could really screw us all over, so I’m going to vote the other guy in because I don’t feel it’ll be as bad.

So what am I accomplishing by not voting tomorrow?  I am fulfilling my duty as part of this democracy.

But Dave!  You just said that we aren’t obligated to vote.  What duty are you fulfilling?

I am fulfilling my duty of making my voice heard.  The mistake people make is thinking that voting is how you make your opinion heard.  That is absolutely not true.

If even one person shares this post, I have made my voice heard and started a conversation.  I have expressed my thoughts and introduced the idea to every reader.

But aside from this blog, I am making a statement to politicians, regardless of if they realize it yet or not.

Currently, politicians work to appeal to those who vote.  But as fewer and fewer people make the trip to the polls, who are they going to appeal to?  They can only do so much to gain the favor of those who do not vote for a particular party.  Soon, they will have to take a good hard look at the status quo and realize that they need to appeal to the non-voters and meet their demands if they hope to win.

I will not be voting in the midterm elections tomorrow.  I am not happy with the way politicians operate and take my vote for granted.  So if they want to get more people to get out and cast their voice in the form of a vote, they will make that change.  If not, they will not win, and ultimately, that is all they want.  But until then, I will not be voting.  I will not pick the lesser evil.

There is another option.

Let’s Stop Being Hypocrites

I like to tell people that I love writing, that I want to be an author or a writer for video games one day.  And yet, here I am, almost a year since my last blog post on this site, something I used to be very passionate about.  Project Selfless was meant to be an outlet for me, a forum to express my thoughts on the world, my perspective on society and the issues we face in our culture.  I am still passionate about all of that — probably more than ever — but as I became more and more depressed, more and more defeated by the obstacles thrown my way, I could not bring myself to write anymore.  I still meet people and tell them I am aspiring author and writer, and my first thought is that I cannot even sit down and write about what I am most devoted to on a semi-regular basis.

I like to think that I am a good friend, an active listener and effective supporter.  I love listening to people, learning their stories and seeing how and why they are in their current situation.  I have grown very close to a good number of people, loved so many.  But I have let it all slip away.  Why?  Because I am an idiot.  I let people go.  Not that they leave, but because time and space naturally grows between us and I let it happen.  And I think about it every day. I need to text this person as soon as I’m done driving.  I really miss them, I should call them and plan to hang out.  But somehow, the thought passes and I don’t make the effort.  (To any of you reading this, you know who you are.  Please know I am sorry, and I will reach out soon.  Please hold me to that.)

I know that I am a hypocrite.  I know that we all are.  I know exactly how hard it is to admit that we are.  I know what it is like to sit across from someone you love and be accused of it, and the strength and courage it takes to say you are wrong.

We Are All Hypocrites

You say you are against animal cruelty, but what animals are you talking about?  Cats?  Dogs?  Oh, just the ones you don’t eat?  Got it.  You weren’t referring to cows, pigs, chickens, fish, lobsters, or the the other tasty ones.

You say you are for fair treatment of women in society, but someone complaining is still “whining like a little girl,” right?  What about the derogatory language you use for girls who enjoy having sex and have every right to without being criticized?  I don’t hear any complaints about your male friends “getting laid” all the time.

The poor are just a bunch of moochers, amirite?  We should totally keep idolizing the rich.  They so don’t milk the middle class for every penny we have.

Oh, I’m a “fag”?  I didn’t know you had a problem with gays.  What’s that?  You don’t?  Interesting.

World peace, that’s the dream, right?  Everyone living in perfect harmony, no fighting, no war.  Who wouldn’t want that?  Oh, you want to bomb ISIS out of existence.  You’re right, that does seem productive!

Dear God, thank You for blessing me with good fortune at the cost of others’ detriment.  I am grateful that me succeeding and others struggling was part of Your plan.  They just need to believe in You more.

You’re afraid of an Ebola outbreak?  In the US?  Statistically, in the same period since the first case of Ebola in the US, more people have been killed by cows in this country.  Probably because we say we don’t want to mistreat animals, but still eat them anyway.  I don’t know, I don’t speak cow.

If anything from the short list above makes you angry or uncomfortable, CONGRATS!  You’re a hypocrite!  But fret not, all hope is not lost.  There is still time to make a change.

Say What You Mean

And mean what you say.  If you are going to post pictures on Facebook condemning animal cruelty, be consistent with your actions and don’t support the raising and killing of animals for your consumption.

If you are going to thank God for the good things in your life, realize that you being privileged, by definition, means that someone else is without it.  So you have a few options in front of you.  You either:

  1. Admit that God consciously blessed you while making someone else’s life more difficult.
  2. If you don’t agree with that, then you need to accept that what is making someone else’s life difficult is their environment and the people within it.  If that’s the case, you need to also realize that your good fortune is actually the result of your environment and the people in it.

If you are going to support women’s rights and equal treatment, use language that is in line with that claim.  Additionally, stop staring at girls who show skin in public, girls in tight pants, etc…  That’s objectification and totally unacceptable.

Stop buying into the consistent state of fear the media needs us to live in.  Seriously, we’re fine.  Why are they reporting it?  Fear sells.  You want to be sure you are safe, so you’re going to tune in to stay up to date on this “terrifying outbreak.”  Why are politicians talking about it nonstop?  Start paying attention to politics and realize there’s a midterm election coming up.  Everyone talking about it has something to gain in the situation.  Is it terrible that people are sick and dying?  Obviously.  Should you be afraid?  Why would you be?

(Seriously, though.  The fact that cows kill an average of 22 people every year is terrifying.  How do they kick so high?  That’s what we should be on the lookout for, some freak breed of ninja cows.)

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “The irony has come full circle!”  Yes, I admit that I used to be guilty of some of these things, and I will gladly admit that there have been plenty of things before that I used to do.

However, when I learn something new, acquire new knowledge or a new perspective, I do my best to consider it and see if my life needs to be adjusted.  I used to eat nothing but fried and barbequed foods if I could help it.  But guess what?  When I learned about the environmental impact of consuming animal products, as well as considered the moral implications, I cut out animal products from my life as best I could.  I used to be religious, but upon serious consideration, found the inconsistencies and contradictions in my actions and the belief I held.

I know it is difficult to admit you are wrong, especially when it is something you have done your entire life.  But we all need to stop being hypocrites.  It will lead to a more productive society, make us more trustworthy as individuals to know we are not living a life of convenient contradictions.  It will take time and plenty of self-evaluation, but lets all try to stop being hypocrites.

Suicide: A Group Effort

I recently watched 21 & Over.  It was a decent comedy, filled with plenty of college humor and cliche jokes, and a few well-placed lines that actually gave me a good laugh.  I’d recommend it if you and your friends are sitting around with nothing to do on a Friday night.  But I recommend it more than just because it made me laugh.  Unexpectedly, it made me think.  (WARNING: If you plan to watch this movie and care deeply about the story, there are spoilers to follow.  If you’d like to watch it, I’ve linked to it above.)

Towards the end of the movie, Casey and Miller are sitting outside of the health ward Jeff Chang is being cared for in.  They have just learned that the reason Jeff Chang had a gun on him and was arrested years before is because he is suicidal.  Casey and Miller talk to each other about how horrible of friends they have become that Jeff Chang, their own best friend, felt that he couldn’t even call one of them to talk to about his stress in school and pressure from his family.  And that is what got me thinking…

Suicide is not an individual effort.  It is not something someone arrives at on their own (except for very rare and unique circumstances).  When someone commits suicide, it is the culmination of the people around them failing to help.

We do not have the right to say that the individual who took his or her own life did so because they were not strong enough.  We are not at liberty to blame tragedies such as sandy Hook on video games, when the person who ended the shooting by taking his own life was, as it would seem, addicted to the most innocent of games imaginable.  We do not get to assign blame to anyone else but to those who have failed the ones who have committed suicide.

Yes, I would still say that suicide is the result of a lack of strength and commitment, but those flaws are found in the friends and family who neglected the signs they saw, or even worse, drove them to commit that fateful act.

We cannot look at those who have committed suicide and try to evaluate their personal lives, asking ourselves “Where did they go wrong?”  We need to look at the people around them and see why no one did anything.

Everyone experiences stress in life.  Everyone has lows that they feel they will never escape.  But most people have support to turn to in their time of need.  These people do not.  At least not enough.  They did not have family they felt they could fall back on, friends they thought they could call.  It is improbable that absolutely no one saw the signs.  That mean someone turned a blind eye, and that is not okay.

So what is the point I am trying to make?  Be friends with people, not “friends.”  Actually support one another.  Talk to the people in your life more than just when you need them.  Don’t dismiss signs simply because you don’t want to face the reality of the situation, or because you are uncomfortable.  What they are going through is much worse than asking a question.

Sigh of Relief

There is a girl I used to know.

I use that word loosely, “know.”  We knew of each other.  We took a class together and socialized while working on a project for it.  That was about the extent of our relationship for a while, until she opened up to me one day.

I’m not entirely sure what the conversation leading up to this point was, but I remember feeling like it came out of nowhere.  I’m sure I didn’t prompt her to say what she said, but maybe she just felt like she needed to tell someone, and I just happen to be there.

She told me about how afraid she was of herself and what she was doing with her life.  She said that her boyfriend broke up with her and that she was struggling to come to terms with it.  As a result, she ended up making friends with people who got her into drugs, which she was now trying to break the addiction to.  She told me, in the most serious tone, that she didn’t think she’d survive college.  Not in the “I’m so stressed, college is going to kill me” attention seeking kind of way.  She was genuinely afraid that the reckless behavior that had become her lifestyle was going to be the end of her.

Now, anyone that knows me in the slightest knows I don’t sit idly by when someone says something like that.  I drop whatever I’m doing and put every ounce of energy into supporting you in the most productive way I can think of.

So that’s what I did.  I started texting her and talking to her whenever I could, because, the way I looked at it, all she needed right then and there was a good friend.  I tried to be that for her, but it didn’t really work.  We ended up fighting once — something I usually reserve for only the closest people in my life — and I realized even more how desperate she was for help.  And I felt horrible that I couldn’t do anything.  I didn’t know how to approach the situation any differently; this wasn’t something I’d been accustomed to helping with.

The year ended and I tried to keep in touch over the summer as best I could, at least so she didn’t think yet another person was willing to drop out of her life.  But we didn’t have classes together in the fall.  I saw her a few times just in passing, and we would stop and say hi, just check in.  Eventually we lost touch all together: either she stopped answering my texts or she got a new number, she deleted her Facebook account, and I didn’t have her email.  I had no way of talking to her, just to see if she was surviving.

That was two years ago.  For the past two years, she’d randomly pop into my head, and I’d just sit and hope that she was ok, that someone else had entered her life when I unfortunately left, that they were able to be the support she needed to turn her life around.  But it was only hope.  It wasn’t going to give me closure, any sort of comfort.

I saw her last week.  I finished my lunch with a friend, gathered my trash and started to head out of the student center when I realized it was her.  I stopped in my tracks and just stared for a moment because I had to be sure.  It was definitely her.  She sat at a table, alone, watching a video on her laptop with her headphones in.  But the most important detail was that she was smiling.  My friend asked why I stopped, to which I made up some excuse, then continued out of the building.

I’m not exactly sure why I didn’t go over.  I told myself I shouldn’t because she wouldn’t recognize me: I was still shaving my head two years ago when she knew me; my hair now hasn’t been cut for almost a full year.  Realistically, that’s a total BS reason.  The truth is that I probably didn’t want to face her, admit that I let her down two years ago, that I should have found a way to reach out to her.  I’m sure she wouldn’t have blamed me, but I’ve been blaming myself, and there’s still a chance that she might, too.  I don’t know that I could handle that.

But now I have that closure.  I know that she is ok.  If someone has a reason to smile, their life isn’t all bad.  It could be a lot worse.  I know she’s alive and that, even if only in that moment, she has a reason to be happy.

So I walked out with a small smile of my own and a sigh of relief.

This Is Why I Hate You

Hate is a strong word, one that we dance around a lot because we’re told that we shouldn’t use it.  And yet, we throw it around every single day about the most mundane things that bother us.  So why did I use it in the title?  Quite frankly, it’s because there are people that I genuinely hate.  This is not geared towards anyone in particular, but if you do happen to find yourself fitting into one of the following descriptions, you now know how I feel about you: I hate you.

Because You’re Always Right

For one, it’s statistically impossible for this to be the case.  If you can use facts and logic to prove me wrong, I have no problem admitting that that is the case.  However, where I draw issue is when you think you are always right simply because you are you.  You come to your conclusions by your own means, and that never includes logic.  You have your impressions and assumptions and take them as truth.  When it comes time to those things being questioned or challenged, you know you cannot support them, but you will try to do your best, never providing an argument for your baseless claims.

So why do I hate you?  Because you are ignorant.  To knowledge.  To truth and reality.  It is that sort of mentality that perpetuates racism, sexism, poor educational settings, useless politics and so many more settings.  It is not even that you are not helping make progress; you are simply counterproductive.

Because Galileo Was Wrong

And the universe really does revolve around you.  I’m sorry that I didn’t realize that literally everyone should drop everything and accommodate your issues.

There is but a single person in the world who can say their problems are the worst, and I am willing to bet that he/she is still more concerned about someone else’s at times instead of his/her own.  If I try to talk to you about something truly pressing about my life and you steer the conversation so that you end up trying to make me feel like I have it easy and your life is so much more difficult, I hate you.  Sure, throwing a hypothetical situation my way is an effective mean of making me feel better and realizing it could be much worse.  But trying to get me to sympathize that your life is worse than mine is not going to work, and I will get up and walk away.

Which leads me to my next point…

Because You Are Petty

Your problems are insignificant.  You are immature and desperate for attention.  Quite frankly, I don’t care if you didn’t get your coffee this morning and you are dreading the rest of the day.  If people do say they care, they are either lying or have just as ridiculous a list of priorities as you do.  Don’t post about it on Facebook or Twitter trying to get someone to sympathize for you.  (If you didn’t read that sentence and think “Wow, that’s pathetic,” you are beyond help.)  Honestly, it’s a poor excuse for human connection and only makes it all worse.

People face serious problems every single day, and the fact that you are reading this right now on either a computer or your phone immediately proves that your life is monumentally better than theirs.  Not being able to go out to a party and get drunk does not warrant having a breakdown, nor does it permit you to get away with saying “I want to die.”  Grow up.

Because You Want to “Fix” People Who Are Different

This might seem ironic in a post like this, but there is an important distinction between hating people for being different and hating them because of what makes them different.  I embrace differences that are natural and against one’s control, as well as varying viewpoints and opinions.  However, I do not support ignorance and blind hate that leads to racism, sexism, and hate towards those who are gay (I will not use homophobic because you are not afraid of them, you are downright hateful).

There is no “fixing” people who are different.  Being gay is not a deficiency in any aspect of life.  There is no corrective therapy, there is no praying away the gay.  The fact that I have literally heard someone tell me that they do that is disgusting.  It is you who needs fixing because you are encouraging discrimination and hate, which, ironically, is something you will probably preach and pray for this Sunday.

Because You Laugh While Saying “That’s So Wrong”

I am a firm believer that when it comes to jokes, there is nothing off limits.  Instead, it matters the intention behind the joke and how it is told.  I get a lot of flack for this, but I will always stand by it.

Rape is obviously a very serious matter and something that needs to be handled delicately.  That being said, jokes can be made about that subject.

Dane Cook tells a fantastic joke that is not, in any way, in poor taste.  He is bringing awareness to a serious issue by making people laugh at how stupid they are for using the word rape.  Because of that, he has caused his audience to respect the delicacy of the subject and avoid treating it like a casual occurrence.

That being said, if you sit and watch Daniel Tosh and laugh at his rape jokes or when he says “Go kill yourself,” I hate you.  His jokes are never meant to bring awareness, they are to laugh at the situation and nothing more.  If you laugh at them, you are condoning the act, plain and simple.  Muttering “that’s so wrong” as you lose your breath does not make up for what you laughter actually represents: you are supporting horrible acts.

Because You Objectify Other Human Beings

This one is known for being primarily men who do it, but women do, too.  In neither case is it acceptable.  We are all human beings, and to devalue someone else’s worth does nothing but show your own.

Guys: women are not sex objects.  I hate that I walked across campus a week ago and passed two guys talking about a party they were going to when one said to the other, “You can point to any girl and literally have sex with her by the end of the night.”  I turned back to them as they passed and just said, “Really?”  They both turned to look at me, one of them flipped me off, and then they continued walking away.  I have not one ounce of respect for anyone that looks at women like that, no matter how “praiseworthy” the rest of your life might be.

Girls: admiring Ryan Gosling or Johnny Depp or the likes might be an innocent crush, but there are plenty of you who “love” them simply because they are attractive.  It is just as shallow as the guys I just addressed.  You are simplifying people who have an entire life, personality and set of emotions to a single dimension: they are nice to look at.  And for some of you, you also fall into the category I placed the guys.

Because You Are Two-Faced (At Least)

You sit with your friends and vent to them.  Everyone does it; you should have friends that you can express your frustration to, people who can justify your feelings or tell you that you’re wrong, make you see things in a different light.  But what you’re doing is different.  You complain about people that, when you see them next, you’ll act like everything is fine.  You are so afraid of confrontation that you force yourself to go back to those same people and act like nothing ever changes.  Do you know why that is?  Because you don’t say anything.  If you come to me complaining about someone else you are friends with, and I see you back to normal with them soon after, I can only assume that you complain about me in the same way, that you put on a different face depending on who you are around.

Because You Give Me Reason To

At the end of the day, I don’t look for people to hate.  Hate is too time consuming.  I think I do a pretty fine job of surrounding myself with friends and family who keep me wanting to be a better person.  They are people who are willing to challenge me and are well aware that I will challenge them back.  I will question their motives and their logic and they will either support their thinking in a way I can accept, or will admit that they were wrong.  They have a respectable set of priorities in life and goals that I find honorable.  I have nothing but love for these people.  But if you give me reason to, I will tell you “I hate you” and I will undoubtedly mean it.

3 Things We Need To Talk About More

There are 3 things that I’ve been told no one really likes to talk about, and, therefore, I should not bring up in conversation.  Why?  Because most people get uncomfortable around these subjects.  Is it because they are too personal?  I don’t think so, because these issues are hardly that.  Money, sex and religion.  These are the 3 things I’m told I should not talk to others about.  Coincidentally, they are also the 3 things we need to talk about more.

Money

Sure, we don’t all have the same amount of it, but that should not keep us from discussing it.  Money is something I have stated as only having the value we assign to it.  Therefore, if we are uncomfortable with talking about, it is only because we are giving it unnecessary value and importance.  If money falls lower on your list of priorities, then you need not worry about having more or less than others.  Odds are that the items higher on the list are what truly make you happy, anyway.  If money is at the top of your list, then you need to reorganize your priorities before you even worry about being comfortable talking about it.

Sex

Honestly, we wouldn’t be here without it.  It’s a natural act that virtually every single one of us goes through countless times throughout our life.  It’s not at all a secret that we do it, so what is the fear in talking about it?  Are we afraid that being more comfortable talking about it will lead us to having it more promiscuously?  Oh, that’s right, I forgot that teaching abstinence works so greatly in religious schools, we should continue thinking that we can realistically lower the rate that teenagers have sex.  Is it because we’ll be jealous that some are having great sex or more often than we are?  Quite frankly, get over it.  As with any other aspect of your life that might not be going exactly as you hoped, figure out how to change it and accommodate.

The reason we are so against discussing sex is because of the undeniable role religion continues to play in our society.  Religion, specifically Christianity in this case, holds sex to be a sacred act (and a sin) and tries to cast it in a bad light to deter us from doing what is in our nature.  Take religion away and we have just another part of life that just is; you grow up, get hair in different parts of your body, have to work out to stay in shape, you have sex.

Religion

There are 2 main reasons why religion needs to get out of its isolated box of unacceptable topics for discussion, the first of which I already mentioned: it has an incredible impact on our every day lives.  We cannot allow such a prevalent force to remain untouchable while it continues to define the laws we live by and the social norms we must abide to.  With anything else that has such a large affect on our society and world as a whole, we discuss the merits of it so we can handle it properly.  Religion should not be an exception.

The second reason is one of integrity.  I see beliefs as if you have them, you ought to be willing to defend them.  You should not see it as acceptable to hide behind the excuse of “I’m entitled to my beliefs and you need to respect that.”   It’s a poor reason and accomplishes nothing.  Religion plays a crucial role in the world as a whole, but also on a personal level.  Many people claim that their religion is what gives them their moral code.  If we are hoping to make this world a better place, we need to discuss where everyone is coming from, what they hope to achieve, and those things are often based on an individual’s morals, and therefore, their religion.

Let’s Talk About These Things More

In the end, there is really no reason that we need to dance around these subjects.  They are a part of life and should not be treated so delicately.  We spend too much time and effort avoiding them when we should make an effort to make it natural to talk about them.  There are productive conversations that need to be had regarding each of these, and they will not happen until we become comfortable talking about them.

Notable Mention: Politics

I’ve discussed the idea that there are 3 things people are uncomfortable talking about with some friends, and all of them mentioned that politics should be on that list.  I disagreed.  Ask someone about their political opinion, and more often than not, they will defend it.  They will cite examples to help defend their point and will elaborate when asked.  This differs greatly from religion.  Sure, not every aims to vocalize their opinion on politics, and some people turn a blind eye to it entirely (which is absolutely not ok), but in general, people are willing to talk about politics.  Therefore, I did not include it on my list.