Digging Out of the Hole

You don’t like your fucking job. Day in and day out you make sacrifices, filling up your weeks with other people’s problems just so you can siphon off a little stream of revenue from the big river of cash in the sky, which flows above you out of sight to people who are better off than you and happier than you. You wake up feeling like shit, in the dread that comes from the threat of never successfully achieving the things you want deep down in your heart. You remember that you are going to die one day, and are afraid you might not actually be able to make it happen before then.

So you do things to cope with this fear of dying unhappy and alone and becoming a tragedy. We all cope with this burden to an extent, and we all have ways of pushing dark thoughts away when they become too much to deal with. We drink. We watch TV or movies. We doom scroll through our phones, which is a place where we’re really wired to be distractible. We dive into hobbies and hyperfixate, making substitutions for real progress. Any type of escapism that makes it easier to deal with the gearlock we feel inside us. And then it’s Monday again, and you drink coffee to put your brain in a different place, a fuzzier place, and you try to blot it all out for an entire week until you can go out and do what you “want to” again.

A while ago, I started dreading Fridays instead of Mondays because it meant that in all the inclement free time of the weekend I would have to confront the fact that I was filling a void in my life, which meant there was a chance I didn’t really like anything I was doing. The arrival of another break, which people usually cherish as an opportunity to be escapists, began to merely signal the passing of more time, a hundred more hours gone since the last time I pondered what I was going to do to finally become happy. And week to week, nothing seemed to change—that was the real trouble.

Some people live their entire lives in the bottom of a gigantic hole. You can spend your whole existence in a purgatorial, barely-tolerable misery. And if you get used to it—if you learn to live with the excuses you’ve made for yourself which you should not accept—then there’s no guarantee that things will ever change. The hole becomes your grave.

For me, this feeling manifested in the accumulated weight of the personal compromises I’d been making some time ago. Life dealt me a fairly bad break, and I found myself sleeping on a mattress on the floor again, falling asleep wrapped around my phone like some scoliotic gargoyle, and waking up lonely and hung over, staring disdainfully at my ceiling as the sun forced its way into my room and poured light through the window.

I asked myself: What are you doing to dig yourself out of the hole?

It was a rock-bottom moment of sorts. I had finally tasted enough misery and regret to realize that I didn’t want it anymore. I couldn’t stomach the thought of not having a partner, of not having any clothes that fit me, of wearing smelly shoes with holes in them, of living out of plastic storage containers and devoting every spare brain cell I had to forgetting about it all. I started asking myself every day, in response to the dread, “What are you going to do to dig yourself out of the hole?” And to my surprise and excitement, it started working. I bought and assembled a dresser and bedframe. I cut back on drinking. I ordered pants from Amazon and bought new leather boots that make me feel fancy every time I wear them. I submitted essays to online publications and started putting even more energy into my creative projects. I try to do things that give me confidence and satisfaction because the alternative is untenable. I do things to dig myself out of the hole.

Naturally, success in the things I’m working on comes in waves, especially the bad habits. There are relapses and pitfalls, moments of compromise that don’t feel right, backpedaling, sliding back down. But as long as the energy and the direction are there, it’s still progress. The key is making permanent changes whenever possible, even if they’re small. They add up positively, in in the same way that the detractors pile up to bring you down, imparting momentum. My bedframe will be there to make my life more comfortable even if I’ve had a bad day. Eventually, the hole will be filled and there will be nowhere to fall back down to.

It takes a lot to move me, convince me of something positive and get me to change my ways. I am skeptical and stubborn. But this is precisely the reason why I’m so psyched on this slogan. It’s realistic, it worked for me, and it didn’t feel like I had to buy into anything corny or change the truth I feel in the person who I am, who I live through proudly every day. It provided me with a hell of a starting point, and the process that began as soon as I asked myself that question will, I hope, eventually deliver me to the life I really want.

What are you doing to dig yourself out of the hole?

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2 Responses to Digging Out of the Hole

  1. Sarah Clifford says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. Looks like you’re figuring out life…I love you and am here for you and am proud of you.💞

  2. Having a full-time job now, I feel pretty bad most of the time. But I also recall feeling bad most of the time when I didn’t have a job. I agree that whatever permanent progress I can make seems to be meaningful and adds to a residual good feeling that carries on into the future. However I think it is possible to experience suffering no matter how much progress or achievement you make in your life. According to Thich Naht Hahn – when you know how to suffer, you are able to suffer less. And to know how to suffer is to suffer compassionately. I don’t consider myself to be a compassionate person, but if I were – I would probably have a much better enjoyment of my own life.

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