Self-Deprecation Seems Okay: Mini-Essay

5 Apr

You can’t live right if you hate your life.

I’m serious. If you hate your life, what you do with your days isn’t living, it’s an uncomfortable imitation. We sit and we stare at the world passing us by, converting oxygen into CO2 and food into feces. Breathing and shitting isn’t the only purpose to our existence, but sometimes it might as well be.

It might as well be because we hate who we are, hate who we see in the mirror every day even if we try to paint our faces and pin the corners of our mouths into smiles. Self-loathing is the new status quo ladies and germs, and its so cliché it’s accepted and expected.

I don’t live right most of the time. Most days I wake up hungover and feeling like last night was a mistake I won’t live down. I feel hungover even when I spent the night before sober, my mind a mess from the dreams of the night before, from the toils of existing. My working day is a haze of computer screens and fingers on keyboards, my nights mostly solitary, also mostly in front of screens. My computer is less an accessory and more an appendage, my gateway to an outside world I try to avoid even on my good days.

I make elaborate plans for self-improvement involving work-out schedules and the proper intake of sustenance, but find myself sitting on my ass three days later surrounded by empty bags of chips that smell of fake cheese and somewhat of shame.

Shame smells like cheese in a can. It smells like snack cakes and delivery pizza. Once or twice a week I scrub off my shame with a home-cooked meal, pasta or a grilled cheese, because I’m too poor to afford shame 24-7. I spend my money on long nights and poor decisions, on videogames and liquor, on cake mix and frosting, on the gas I need to run my car, on groceries that I select in the store carefully, trying desperately to do math in my head despite suffering from discalcula because what loser carries a calculator in a grocery store to make sure they only spend ten dollars on food to last a week?

Self-deprecation comes to us as naturally as breathing. It’s ingrained in us from the beginning and holds on with sharp and sticky fingers. It’s like a little monkey, a gremlin, some mutant creature clutching our back and whispering hateful thoughts into our receptive ears.

I hate myself most of the time. I wake up and stumble into the bathroom, staring at my hair that never sits right and my ass that isn’t perky enough and my tits that refuse to stay the same size as each other and the same shirt I’ve worn to bed since high school and I glare at my blurry reflection and tell it I hate it and wish it would just go fucking die already so I could stop dealing with it and everything it represents. It represents the degree I got that wasn’t worth anything. The half-dozen half-baked novels sitting on the hard-drive of my computer, all of them mediocre when read despite hours, days, weeks, months of hard work. The job I go to with the hope of advancement even though I’m only working part time at a job a monkey could do better. The friends who clearly don’t know me well enough or they would have run for the hills by now. The boyfriend I feel I don’t deserve no matter how many times he tells me I’m wrong.

When I was a kid I hated myself so much I was violent. I didn’t start fights or ram my head against walls, but that would have been less stereotypical. Less cliché.

Maybe that’s part of being a writer. Being a bit of a cliché. At least I’ve quit the cigarettes, even if the alcohol shows no sign of stopping.

We keep trucking though. We’re human, and we know we aren’t perfect no matter how many people try to put us on pedestals with their words and expectations. No matter how much we hate ourselves for our lack of perfection.

I’m occasionally guilty of loving myself. Of being okay with my out of shape body and never sits right hair, of liking my wonky tits and the shirts I’ve had since high school that I still wear for the memories. Of sitting down at my computer desk and typing up a novel that I want to write because even if it sucks, it’s a story I have to tell. Sometimes I think about how hard I worked to get through my BA, how far I’ve come since high school and the sad, broken girl lying on the floor of her bathroom, not caring if she gets blood on the tiles because then at least she’s feeling something. I feel lucky that I work in a basement with a dozen other nerds who type at inhuman speeds, that I can read at the speed of light and make ten bucks an hour part time practically right out of college. Lucky that I have people in my life who love to watch funny movies and mix strange drinks and make really bad penis jokes. That I have a boyfriend who loves me no matter how down I get on myself.

Maybe I’m mediocre. Maybe I’ve fucked up in too many ways to count. Maybe I’m just a hack.

But hating myself for it is no way to live my life. It isn’t living.

So, sometimes, if I try really hard and nobody else is around to see, I love my life. And in doing so, just for a little while, I really live.

 

 

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