An Open Letter to a Mildly Unhappy Person
Dear Person Who Hates Her/His Job, Partner, Life, Etc…
After ceaselessly hearing your passive-aggressive, solemn remarks, and unrelenting complaints about the state of your life, I had to reach out.
I am generally a wildly empathetic person but I have an inkling that empathy is no longer what you require. You need a little tough love. You need someone to call you on your shit. Search no further, I will gladly do that for you.
I fear that you may be irritated or offended by this seemingly contemptuous dissertation but I am willing to take the risk. Please know that I am by no means patronizing you, nor am I claiming to have the answers to your life’s quandaries. I can barely keep my own life together, so I’m not sure why you should even listen to me but that is neither here nor there. I am reaching out because I have been in your position, and the only thing that got me moving was a swift kick to the ass. So I’m going to be brutally honest with you.
I feel you. I empathize with you because your situation is only partially, and not entirely your fault. You are a product of the societal norms, which have been engrained into your head by entities who profit from your unhappiness. In fact, be stoked that you have enough self-awareness to acknowledge that you’re dispirited. You can still feel. You’re not a sociopath, so already you’re winning. This is all very exciting.
As I said, I understand. I know what it’s like to be locked in a prison of complacency; to technically have everything but be totally unfulfilled. I am all too familiar with that subtle feeling of unrest, that quiet yearning for something more. It is a serious predicament to be unhappy, but not unhappy enough to make a change.
You have learned to live with this underlying feeling of dissatisfaction. Indifference has become the norm. I’m going to guess that this shadow moved into your consciousness, without you really noticing it somewhere around the time when you departed your institutionalized educational establishment and got your first “real job”.
You accept the feeling because you’ve been conditioned to think that average is an acceptable state of being, that it is normal to feel sub-par, that everyone else deals with it, so you should too. You have been falsely indoctrinated to believe that happiness lies in meeting the status quo, in procuring external goods, and in attaining extrinsic goals. You were from a young age presented with a checklist of objects and behaviours, which guaranteed happiness, but with each item you checked off, the list grew in length, and that happiness fell further out of reach. Now, you feel that it is too late to change your trajectory, and you are unsure how to go about it. So you take it.
Every day, that alarm goes off and you cringe. Then you go and spend the majority of your days doing things that don’t mean anything to you for companies that you don’t believe in. You are part of an unsatisfiable machine. That sparkle in your eye, that excitement for life that you once had, and which resurfaces when you take two minutes to do something that you love, that sparkle is gone. Work is work and so, you work. It’s just what you do to get by. It’s okay though, it’s not awful. It’s bearable, at least.
The issue with that way of thinking is that like a former roommate of mine, that feeling begins as a subtle annoyance; unpleasant but tolerable. You humour it because it’s familiar, inoffensive, seemingly harmless. However, it eventually transmutes into a life-sucking entity, capable of pushing you to the brink of madness. It adds no value to your life. It doesn’t pay rent. It just occupies space, eats the last bagel, uses all your shit, and leaves its dirty socks on the floor. The frustration culminates, and you eventually lose your mind.
Your life could be worse but it could also be better. You're in that apathetic space between acceptance and despair. You experience moments of happiness, so you’re not exactly sad but you’re certainly not excited. You feel “fine”, “okay”, “not bad”. Let me interject and remind you that those are not real feelings. Those are watered-down versions of the stoke that should be doing backflips in your fucking soul when you wake up every single day.
You’re not even sure when you last actually felt something. You’re numb. And please, spare me the falsities about how great it’s all going. That cabinet full of cheap wine bottles that you drown yourself in would beg to differ.
Don’t be fooled by the numbness that conformity has inflicted upon you. You’re not safe. Rock bottom is actually a much safer place to be. At least there, change generally transpires. It’s almost easier when you’re so desolate that you have no choice but to make a change.
Complacency. This is the most dangerous place for you. This is the spot where quicksand enraptures you, until you wake up one day at 55, bitter, and stuck. This is the state that leads to your middle-aged self yelling at kids on the lawn, resenting everything around you, wishing you hadn’t spent your life doing shit you hate, with people who don’t inspire you.
I don’t mean to offend you but, I’m a bit bored of your overplayed narrative. I’m bored, and exasperated by your unwillingness to change your circumstances. Society lead you astray, yes. I will give you that but now, you are the one making the choice. You are the one creating your reality. You are the one choosing this dissatisfaction. Choosing a job that leaves you unfulfilled. Choosing a partner who doesn’t make your heart feel like it’s going to implode. Choosing a life that you're not passionate about. Choosing mediocrity.
Are you a masochist? Or do you just not think that you deserve happiness? When will you actually go and do the shit that you want to do? One day is not an answer because one day may never come. You could get hit by a bus tomorrow. Then, when will you do it? If not now, then when? The great Lemony Snicket once said: “If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting the rest of our lives”.
You wish you were more like those audacious enough to make shit happen, but those people are not dreamers, they’re doers. Deviating from this path, the one that most follow, and which society promotes as desirable takes serious balls, and it is scary as all fuck.
They took a terrifying leap of faith and gave up that comfort, in which you bask. Their lows are way lower than you could imagine, but those highs, oh but those highs are well worth it. You look wistfully at the way they live their lives. They’re so lucky. No. They’re not. Luck is not a thing. Taking shit into your own hands is a thing. No one handed it to them, and no one is going to hand it to you. Also, how do you expect to experience this magic that you seek when you so long ago ceased to believe in its existence?
So please, just stop. Stop letting things happen to you, and instead, go make them happen. Stop being passive. Stop doing what society claims will make you happy. Stop hating your life. I hate to break it to you, but I don't know if you can even call it that. It is not life. In this state, it is merely existence. Is that what you dreamed about as a little kid? That you would exist in a perpetual state of indifference? When did life become nothing more than an apathetic march to the grave?
Take a minute to seriously ask yourself, what is the point of all this? Why do it? Call me cynical but think about it logically. The end result of this life is that you’re going to die. Think of the words of the king himself, Mr.Tupac Shakur: “Why am I dying to live, if I’m just living to die?”.
Isn’t that true? Are you going to spend the one life you have being “okay”? Listen, if you’re “okay” with that, then by all means, carry on. Honestly, some people are, and I salute those people. But I can see that you’re not. I can see it in your eyes, I can hear it in your voice, I can feel the subtle desperation and man, you deserve this. You deserve happiness. You deserve to experience the world and all of the stars. You deserve magic.
So please, do us all a favour, go actually live. Go fucking do it. It’s going to be hard, and it’s going to hurt. At times, you’re going to want to run home to mommy. Your life is about to get ten times more difficult but also about a million times better. Go find happiness, and please always remember that you are so very worth of it.
A person who used to hate her life.