Sunday, May 4, 2014

RANT: Failure

When I was a teenager I wanted to be a stand-up comic, the sudden (and traumatic) realization that "stage-fright" is in fact a very real phenomenon killed that pretty quickly. At my mother's insistence, after High School I went to Maine College of Art instead of to a REAL college or university. It's a mistake I've been paying for for over a decade, soon to be remedied with my recent admission to the University of Arkansas. Art school was a fucking joke, nothing quite like paying tens of thousands of dollars a year for information that not only wouldn't help me land any stable work, but that I mostly already knew. I quit after a year, and while I certainly don't regret walking out on M.E.C.A. while waving the one-fingered-goodbye, I admit my reasoning at the time for doing so was greatly flawedI spent the next 7+ years of my life scrubbing hotel toilets after obnoxious tourists because I took a family member's insane advice & didn't have the lady-balls to stand up for myself, because I was afraid. 

In 2009, having had enough of living at the mercies of tale-twisting hotel guests & shady-as-shit management, I enlisted in the United States Army: I needed a do-over, some serious changes in my life and it looked like a great way to make that happen. It turned out to be both a blessing AND a curse, I've made some amazing friends as well as some truly frightening enemies, I got to see a part of the world both oddly enchanting and downright horrifying to any civilized mind, and also I had the pleasure & privilege of falling madly in love with someone genuinely beautiful and unique, only to eventually lose him to my worst of weaknesses, fear. 

The last I had heard from him, he was hospitalized some time last year. I still don't know what for or how serious the circumstances, I haven't heard a peep since December & it scares me to think of what might have happened to him (I try not to.) 

By some definitions, I was a shitty Soldier to begin with: I was always lousy at PT even when I DID give it my all, and contrary to anything my former "leadership" might tell you, giving it my all was what actually injured my spine in such a way it made regular PT impossible for the rest of my career (I have X-Rays & MRI scans to prove it.) Though I was only ever ONCE late for a formation, I only ever bothered to show up so that I wouldn't be listed A.W.O.L. and then promptly tried to make myself scarce, after Iraq I grew to hate my squad-mates, my Company and even my entire Unit. My departure was just as memorable as my career, I left the Army in much the same way that I had served while in it: Just like in Iraq, with my pants down out of sheer defiance and savoring every second of it. 

Behold, my last day on Fort Huachuca (and in the Army.) 

Over the course of my 32 years of life on Earth, I have fucked up A LOT. 

I just recently enrolled in college for the first time in over 10 years, it's at a legitimate educational institution this time and I am TERRIFIED that I'm not going to make it. For starters, their student networking system is a logistical nightmare: I was probably the LEAST competent Signal Soldier in the entire history of the United States Army, and I could probably set up a more reliable/less complicated system than this. Next, my math scores are atrocious. I hate going out to eat because calculating a decent tip is a chore for me, I still do my best. College, ACTUAL college, is going to be painful and embarrassing as all fuck. Looking back, I don't know why I didn't outright refuse my Mother's "advice" & just go anywhere BUT art school. 

There is one thing that scares me more than anything in Iraq ever did, and my life was legitimately in very real danger on more than one occasion (but THIS ONE especially so!) More than public speaking, more than mortars & rockets, more than heart-break or legitimately evil people posing as friends, there is only one thing in this existence that wills top me dead in my tracks almost every single time... 

I am terrified of failure, sometimes even to the point of not trying at all. 

The first (and only) time I failed a Record APFT, I had a panic attack. My first (and only) Article 15, I tried to kill myself & then tried like Hell to hide it: Soldiers & Veterans reading this, go ahead & scoff at me if you must. Statistically speaking, it could just as easily have been YOU trying to swallow an entire bottle of stolen pain-killers. The first (and only) audition I ever went to for a part in a local production, the laughed me right out of the building. For years no art gallery in all of Maine would showcase any of my work, even my own home town which only had ONE GALLERY IN IT at the time! By every common definition of the word, I fail at life.

So why do I keep trying? I'm also stubborn as all fuck and I don't particularly care about what others think of me, for the most part. Despite my crippling fear of not making it in the world, I feel bad if I don't do anything at all. Embarrassing as it is to admit, there are times I don't even try, I'm working on that. I hate it, but I'm doing what I can with what I have. 

I'm not dead, I'm not crazy (well, THAT's debatable. I'm "functional" I guess...) I can still walk on both legs, paint & write with my hands, speak & curse with my own foul fucking mouth and a whole range of other things that others who've been the same places I have can no longer do. Maybe instead of moping around about everything I've lost, I should be grateful for what I haven't. 

You can spare me the god-talk, your imaginary friend has nothing of real value or consequence to offer. 

I will keep trying to make my plans work out & come out ahead, because it's not only all that I can do, but at this point I no longer have a choice. 

Sink or swim.

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