My favorite habits in college were drinking to excess, blacking out and then sometimes excreting my bowels onto somebody’s laptop or throwing up all over myself in my sleep.
My least favorite habits were being happy, socializing with new people and studying for tests for anything because nothing fucking mattered to me.
I absolutely adored standing around the keg at a frat party with the cup that I paid $3 or $5 for, depending on who I knew there (which most of the time, was nobody).
And then I’d take one gargantuan gulp of my frothy light-beer one sip at a time.
One time, I woke up in the bed adjacent to my roommate who I’d moved to the states from China not a few weeks earlier, covered in my own vomit.
It was pink and chunky and it smelled like stomach bile and it spoiled the fresh dorm-air of the room.
I apologized but I’m not sure if he knew what had actually happened because it never seemed like he was too upset.
(And he almost walked in on me jerking off, like, eight times. I’m sorry, dude.)
He might’ve thought I’d just gotten sick.
I don’t really remember the going back to my room, part.
The moment I’m most ashamed about is that one time I got wasted and started hooking up with a girl who, by most conservative estimates, was roughly twice my size.
(In height and girth.)
And so, we went back to my room in the house I was staying in in junior year and we both got naked in my bed and I remember thinking to myself, will this be the first time I have sex?!.
And how sad and hopeless that prospect seemed at the time.
But fortunately, my whiskey/anxiety-fueled dick wasn’t up for the task and so I just wagged it around for a few minutes and then eventually we both moved on with our lives.
Not today, junior!
Oh, I also had a terrible habit of becoming extremely self-destructive and poisonous in my own thoughts after something like that.
I think I had a hickey on my neck after that night.
I tried to put on some cover-up to make it all better but that didn’t really help.
I thought about killing myself a few times, but that thought never really matured into anything beyond an idea.
If the fight is in you, keep at it.
I’ve never thought about killing myself while writing.
Like, I’ve never said, this writing is so bad that I should just kill myself.
I haven’t made more than approximately zero dollars from it, either.
(And so, depending on who you ask, someone might suggest that I should kill myself. Because to some people money is the only barometer for success. And those people are the saddest fucks alive.)
But I don’t really have a particular goal in writing beyond growth.
That’s all I want to do: to reach more people, build a bigger audience, help people do more writing, shit like that.
Find their why.
(Just fucking kidding. If somebody wants to find their why through writing, more power to them, but I think it’s always just a means to an end.)
I think it’s easy for successful, rich people to tell other unsuccessful (sometimes poor) people that if you focus on the money, you’ll never achieve success.
It’s easy to lob pretentious, overly diatribes from a cushy penthouse, over a jar of fucking caviar that you’re eating out of with a spoon.
That you should be willing to commit your blood, sweat, tears, life, sex, money and everything in your life to accomplishing what it is you’ve set out to accomplish.
Those delusions of grandeur probably drive more people to suicide than to actual success.
But I think what they really mean is that, if the only reason you’re doing something is for the money, after a point, you’ll be disappointed.
And, it’ll feel like a slog.
I love writing.
I genuinely do.
And still, it feels like a chore sometimes.
And I fucking love it.
Imagine if I hated it?
Imagine if, ever day I wasn’t making any money from that, I had to remind myself of that, too?
That’d be fucking miserable.
I just write my 500 or 750 or sometimes a few thousand words a day, and then I go back to masturbating like every other male on the face of the planet.
And then I remind myself that God is watching.
Then I laugh.
When external validation is necessary.
I thought I was a garbage salesperson for about two years.
Because to be totally honest, I’d never been one to “lead the pack” — to really stand out in any meaningful way.
And then one day, as I was taking one of my half-a-dozen “mental breaks” that I normally took during the day my buddy pointed to dashboard he’d put together in Salesforce.
“Dude, dude, come here,” he said.
And we were looking at our company’s sales metrics.
He took the period over the last year and averaged out the numbers.
“Dude, you’re at around 125% of quota,” he said.
I don’t know what that meant and I didn’t really care.
You’re disturbing my mental break, dude! I thought.
I’d been averaging that for the last 6 or so months.
Most people would be lucky to consistently break 100% and not get fired.
I’d been well beyond that for a while now.
(And the truth is, my ‘sales-role’ was pretty easy but let’s not qualify all of my success.)
“President’s Club, baby!” He said.
That’s what that meant.
And it took me a while to process that because
A.) I didn’t think that was even remotely fucking possible and
B.) I thought I was terrible at sales.
The new narrative became, I’m a sales fucking badass, yo!
(The same thing happened to me at college when I became an expert drinker.)
A few years ago, writing became my drug-of-choice.
(And, oh, I still drink plenty, don’t worry.)
And for a while, I had no email list.
And worse, no readers.
Then I found some.
To be honest, a lot of the comments and notes and words of encouragement that I’ve gotten from my readers have kept me going.
I would’ve quit a while ago, because I’m secretly a massive narcissist.
The best one?
“What a crock-full of a feel-good bullshit!” a reader wrote.
“Whoever this guy is, he needs to get kicked in the cunt.”
The importance of being around people who make you better.
My mom called me to tell me that one of my old friends’s from middle school overdosed on pills and alcohol and maybe heroin.
When you hear about a friend dying who you haven’t spoken to in a while, it’s often more mystifying than it is upsetting.
Because you really don’t have a great mental image to process of them.
Like, how the fuck did that happen!?
(And I’m not going to pretend like I’m better than him, or anyone, because most of the time I’m a piece of shit, too. I’ve made more than a handful of stupid decisions that should’ve killed me.)
I think the easy answer is that he made a few mistakes, but we all do.
He was just working with the cards (and people) he’d been dealt.
I remember chatting with his sibling at a bar that I almost never went to a few months before his death.
We didn’t exactly roll in the same groups, but there were some overlaps in our friend circles.
And I was talking about how I was going to school in the middle of fucking nowhere and living my life and that things seemed good.
(And I was probably lying if I’d convinced him I was happy because, for the most part in college, I really wasn’t.)
He was reflecting on how a lot of people in our friend circle seemed to be stuck in a lot of ways: caught up in drugs, shitty jobs, not in school and just circling the drain, so to speak.
I didn’t see what he meant at the time and I thought it was a stupid comment to make because we grew up in a pretty nice/privileged area.
(Gang violence wasn’t exactly an issue in our cul-de-sac neighborhoods, outside of our 3,000 square foot homes.)
“You’re lucky you got out, man,” he said.
It seems like, a lot of those old friends who I haven’t really spoken to in a while were all stuck in their own rights.
I see what he meant, now.
More and more, it seems like that stagnation is where creativity (and hope) went to die.
“What are you up to, these days?” one of my friends asked, as we were sitting across from each other in a small cafe.
I tried to stay on the offensive by asking all of the questions, but eventually, he broke through.
And I tried to spit out a semi-coherent answer that would make me sound cool.
I hate that question. What do you do?!
I used to always have a great answer to that.
I kept talking. I was rambling at this point.
I stopped myself mid-thought.
“Fuck that, the honest answer is I don’t really know,” I said.
“I feel lost sometimes,” I added.
“I look at somebody like you, somebody who I feel like has it all figured out and sometimes I’m just like what the fuck am I doing?!“
And he nodded his head and I was waiting for him to exit the conversation out of discomfort because he’d been building companies for years and nobody wants to hang out with a loser, you know?
“That makes two us,” he said, and I nodded and we drank our coffees and I felt a little less alone in the world.