Admitting I Was Wrong

Decipher City
8 min readAug 25, 2021
Doing better with less to live longer, instead of imitating the crazy rich folks.

At the beginning of the pandemic, I was absolutely miserable. My income was uncertain, and I had been trying to address that on multiple fronts only to have my efforts mocked or rejected, whichever was more amusing for the other party. For me, having control over my life had been a goal for over fifteen years, and even though I had navigated as best I could, something always got in the way. I always figured that my goal was to acquire enough resources per year to be “okay,” and after setting a reasonable amount, I tried everything I could think of to reach that goal. Reality demonstrated that I was wrong about most of what I thought I needed, but that I lived in a world that needed me to have those goals. People were literally counting on my failure to sustain themselves, and I was naively hoping that there would be a healthy way not to compete. Admitting I was wrong for a terrible reason almost destroyed my morale.

In March 2020, I was a raging codependent and had a number of different avenues to fees those urges. During the first few months of quarantine, I was on social media for most of my time away from work. I felt like being quiet and having time to myself was punishment for not being a good enough person, although to be fair, I was not the only one using social media as a way to recreate the world outside my home. There was very little time making comments or posting reactions when I would fail to see responses. I felt an intense need to seek constant external validation as if I lost object constancy if no one was there to acknowledge me.

Simultaneously, I started paying a lot more attention to my body cues, and I felt like something was terribly wrong. The protests last summer felt unbelievably hollow, as did the election, but I was emotionally healing, so I figured that I was just being pessimistic. There were still joys that I was trying to manically cling to, but I realized that my need to feel needed and find joy only in others was becoming problematic. Joy is not meant to be sustained any more than anger or sadness, because one should experience it, be grateful for the gift, and release it to be open to the next emotion. In short, my obsession with remaining happy and seeking others who were constantly looking to do the same was exhausting me, and causing me to cling to a surreal existence rather than embrace reality.

There was little time to enjoy this revelation because of work outside the home that I needed to sustain income. I did census work during quarantine, and was reminded how important it was for me to work to please, but I started recognizing that pleasing myself was part of my healing process. One particular property had an extremely high number of interviews needed, but was close enough that I could walk to it from my house. After disparaging her non-White staff’s frustration at yet another task, the White property manager took me aside and waxed poetic about the necessity of the census and how committed she was to fulfilling her civic responsibility — which I ignored due to the insincerity. Not surprisingly, many of the predominantly non-White residents of the property were reluctant to complete the census, but were completely amenable when the questions became less invasive and took less of their limited spare time. The same giddy White property manager called my boss to assert her dominance when I went out of my way to meet her at another property, but again, I was unsurprised. I was able to clear all but a small number of the households in the following week, and the residents appreciated my respect for their boundaries. I felt good when I was engaging with people even for a brief moment, but power circles that could “help” me reach my goals were increasingly repulsive.

Writing is a gift that allows people the chance to keep rediscovering why there are always words to be said, but thanks to my emotional unrest, writing felt more like another obligation that I would never complete to my satisfaction. Instead of trying to force myself to produce content when I was in the depths of despair, I started taking more time. I realized that I was not cerebral enough to stay in my head for days at a time, and my perfectionism was standing in my way. Now, I do more writing but also more advocacy, which proved that the census experience allowed me to learn about myself, making it an ultimately healthy experience. These days, I find myself more inspired to write by my advocacy, and moved to advocacy by my writing, which created a much more manageable symbiosis between the outside world and my inner world.

Like many other people, I tried to grow food, but apartment gardens are very unpredictable in their yields. I did, however, discover that I loved keeping things alive, just like I had when I lived alone. For the first time in over a year, I just started maintaining my plants because I liked them, not because of what they could give me. Now, I have succulents that give me no more than their beauty, and that is enough; they are small, but they live, which is all I need from them. That failed garden showed me that existence was enough, and I realized that trying to relentlessly self-promote and achieve was something I could never comfortably do, and I finally felt sufficient for the first time in my life.

In January 2021 — right after the failed coup — I did my taxes and found out that I had made less than I had ever made before during my professional life. Frowning a bit, I considered my life, and how I felt. I no longer spent hours on social media, and I was still writing. I was calmer, and I was asserting more boundaries in my personal life. There was still a lot of chaos in the world, but I realized that such chaos had existed before quarantine. I had reached none of my goals, but I finally felt like I could live without the excessive external validation of more money and/or prestige. Less control was strangely tranquil, and my body finally felt relaxed when not working, and even sometimes when I was.

A couple of times, I went out to eat after being vaccinated, and even though the staff was perfectly nice, the experience lacked something — but not a tip, because they had bills to pay. I had been ordering out once a week from local restaurants, but I took the food home and created my own experience. Waiting for someone to entertain or validate me felt like taking advantage of someone else’s need to earn a living. It all began to feel like I was trying to sustain a bad habit, or get something out of it that I knew it lacked. Ironically, I enjoy getting food out more when I know I can take it home and not depend on someone else’s emotional labor.

The obnoxious space race almost destroyed all that internal progress I had achieved. The excessive displays of monstrous wealth were a stressful reminder of the abuse projected on the working classes. So many people subject themselves to intense strain while those with control and resources ignore most efforts, desperate to refocus attention back to them. There was no self-awareness from the elite, no recognition of the harmful policies that produced the genocide of over half a million people, but still demanded positive validation from the neglected masses. There was also no remorse from the press for participating in this farce of humanity. These people had all this wealth, but unlike my fantasy of having more control over my own life, they wanted control over everyone. It was then that I realized only insecure people need to demonstrate their wealth to others, hoping to fill that void that I had managed to confront and conquer myself.

Right before I sank back into the abyss of depression, I realized that such people needed me to feel badly about myself. Because they had abandoned their emotions to become monsters, I was the one who was expected to care about becoming a politician, making money from the stock market, buying a house, and showing off to others. The billionaires of the world feel no joy, and maintain virulent contempt for everyone, including themselves. None of them have enough of a personality to keep a partner interested, even from a distance. They have no real connections because they are always looking to use whoever crosses their paths. The press “reports” on them because they own the news; otherwise, no one would care.

People raised rents during multiple crises to redivert our attention and make us fight them for survival. The vaccine is patent protected because billionaires need people begging them for relief. Costs went up as jobs went down because they are validated through controlling us. Mental health is a mocked scarcity because it reveals that they are dependent on feeding upon our adoration, awe, and/or hatred. If we would rather stay home and cook, write, or grow things, who are they? If we self-actualize without an audience and feel good about ourselves, they turn into creepy, old men with nothing to offer. We know that the earth is finite, but they need us to yearn to be them. They wanted my envy, but just looked pathetic since their value depends on us needing them. Unfortunately, they have control and resources because we enabled them for far too long.

They need us to rebuild their world of dominance that cultivates nothing but hatred because they were never interested in changing anything, despite whatever publicity stunts they engaged. Instead of trying to shame people into deeper exploitation of one another, people in the United States need to start stigmatizing ostentatious wealth. More people could be satisfied seeking a stable life with less expectations of consumption, and we can level out to demonstrate the contentment that we need. The era of grotesque hedonism has passed, and the new world wants proof that people can soothe themselves instead of constantly needing the external validation of “more.” After all, having control and hoarding resources was never anything I wanted to do, but that mindset pervades our current existence.

Do I hate those who still need to gain at the expense of others? Absolutely not, because that takes effort and energy I could put into serving myself or my circle. Do I pity them? Only to the extent that I wish they could find a quiet version of themselves where they felt comforted without attention. Do I think I have all the answers and sit smug over everyone? Only people who need to feel better than others search for the right to do that. I have learned that if everyone had the resources to be self-aware and content, there would be less violence and mental health issues. Cultivators and nurturers want emotional and social equilibrium for everyone because those elements create a peaceful life. More often, toxic people enjoy it when everyone hates themselves without validation and approval. Admitting I was wrong about what I needed and why has made me more emotionally stable. The realization that certain people want me to destroy myself for their entertainment right before they return to their perpetual boredom is frightening.

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