I May Have Won The Battle, But The War Is Far From Over

Anyone who has known me for more than five minutes knows that I can have a cynical side to me.  Often times, to those who don’t know me that well, I can appear stoic and uptight.  Now, I won’t deny that I can be uptight, but stoic suggests no emotions, and that is not true at all.  I have plenty of emotions, and given the opportunity, I will show them all off.  It should be noted, however, that due to a rather damaging emotional-less relationship with my father growing up, I learned to hide my happy emotions and explode in a fit of rage with my bad ones.  It should also be noted that much of what I say is said with a dry, sarcastic tone, even the previous statement.  I have found that my sense of humor is often misunderstood until, as I said, someone takes the time to know me.  I realize this can be difficult, and I applaud those who have made it through my dense exterior to find the happy joyful person living deep down inside.  (Sarcasm again.)

Ok,let’s be fair.  I had a childhood that more or less forced me (and my siblings, I don’t want to sound like a martyr here) to grow up at an early age.  I was by no means an unhappy child, but I had to act like an adult pretty early on.  Over time, this wears on a person and I started to come off as grumpy and miserable all the time.  I’m really not like that…..no, really.  The thing is this.  I did go through a period of my life where I was honestly unhappy.  I’m no shrink, but I bet it could have been called depression.  Now, I’m not blaming anyone for this, it was my own creation, but it was unpleasant.  I’m here today, trying desperately to keep my head up and be happy.  Moving into my own place was a huge step in the right direction for me.  That was four years ago.  Since then, I have made a lot of self discoveries.  (I had a lot of free time for a while)  I’ve been able to see myself and who I was and I have been able to make changes.  It’s slow going, but I have really made strides in being happy with what I have.  That’s to say that for a long time, my bitterness or unhappiness came from not having a lot of material things that in all honesty, I didn’t need anyway.  I wasn’t jealous of what others had, rather resentful that destiny had decreed I was not worthy of those things.  My feeling at the time was, I work hard, why don’t I have those things.  And it wasn’t all material goods.  I mean, sure, a nice sports car would have been great, but I never actually wanted one.  I think I just wanted to know I could have one if I wanted, and that was never true.  I also envied those who had non-tangible goods, like girlfriends (Ok, I know, girlfriends are tangible, but the relationship is not.  Physically I saw girls, but I did not have a relationship with any) or massive house parties with lots of people.  I was never the popular guy, nor the athletic guy, nor the rich guy.  I was just a guy.  It turns out, however, that my friends, the real ones, didn’t really care about that.  The college years really messed with my head.  They made me believe I needed things i didn’t really need.

So what am I really babbling on and on about today?  Money.  Of course, it all leads back to money.  No matter what, it seems I have a money ceiling that I can not surpass, meaning no  matter ow hard i work or how much I save, something always comes along to set me back.  Now, I grew up watching my mother fight this battle just like I am now.  At the time, I probably naively believed we were the only family going through this.  I’m sure i have said in the past, we were not a poor family, but we were by no means wealthy.  My mother always provided for us, but when I look back on those years of my youth I understand how difficult it must have been for her.  This constant struggle for money was tattooed on my brain so today, as a functional adult, I am constantly worrying over money.

Last night, I came home from work to discover a note telling me I had not one, but two late fees regarding my rent payment.  Immediately my blood began to boil, but I told myself to remain calm and deal with it.  In the past, I probably would have started yelling and throwing things, because, you know, that helps.  Instead, I went over my finances and tried to figure it all out.  You see, every month I panic that I will spend more than I earn and someone will come along and make me live in a box under a bridge.  I’m almost convinced they have a spot already reserved for me.  The fact is, however, and this is something I am just starting to understand, is that I am not the only person who has ever been late on a rent payment.  Mine was late because I play rent payment roulette and try to wait until the last possible minute to mail it and hope it gets there on time.  Apparently, I lost the last two months.  Now, I could huff and puff and get angry, but it won’t change the fact I owe this money.  I’m not happy about having to spend an extra hundred dollars this month, but I realized that while it may set me back a bit, I should still get through without any hitmen coming to break my kneecaps.

Don’t get me wrong.  I hate feeling like I take two steps forward only to be pushed three steps back, but it has been the pattern of my life, and presumably many others, for as long as I can remember.  Somehow, someway, things always work out.  Sure, I may have to eat noodles for a few days to get caught up, but I still have my place, my car, and thankfully, my job.

Speaking of jobs, that is another way I hope to get back on track.  As much as I loathed working seven days a week from 2008-2011, it helped me get my feet on the ground here in my apartment.  When I realized I could get by with only one job, I did just that, but if you are following along with anything I have just written, you’ll see that it hasn’t always been easy.  I decided to look around for a second job just to have enough extra money (in truth there is no such thing as extra money, just more than I used to have) to be able to pay my bills comfortably and maybe not feel so guilty going out once a week or so.  Also, if I am to someday have someone living here with me, it might be nice to be able to buy some new things, like furniture, someday.  At first, I was just kind of lazily considering it, but given the recent financial struggles, I have begun to push a bit harder.  The thing is, I could never, ever…no really, ever, go to another McDonald’s again.  Well, I suppose if they made me owner or something  I might consider it, but as a manager trying to save a sinking ship like I did in the past, no, I could never stress myself out like that.  In all honesty, I started being happy again once I stopped working a second job.  No no, my plan now is to find something part time, close by that I can do stress free.  I’m not looking to make a lot of money, just enough to put some aside in my savings.  In fact, right now I am only looking to get me through the end of the year, and after that, play it by ear.  I was starting to have my doubts about whether I was going to find anything or not, but I was thrilled yesterday to receive a message from the owner of a new restaurant right around the corner from my place.  I had seen that a new place was going into a small plaza that I can actually see from my balcony.  It’s a Puerto Rican restaurant, which obviously drew my attention, and it’s small, which means I doubt I would have a lot to do.  I went to speak to the owner and he seemed eager to talk to me and he was impressed that I was a manager at McDonald’s and he was pleased to know I lived so close by.  I told him right away that I was only looking for part time work, but at the same time, I have plenty of availability and given my manager experience, I can do pretty much anything.  He told me to give him a few weeks as the place hasn’t even been open two weeks yet, but I am confident he is going to call me back.  Again, I have no intentions of wearing myself out like I did working at two McDonald’s, but I think it would be a lot of fun to work in this place, and of course my secret desire is to spend as much time as I can speaking Spanish with the customers and employees.  In fact, I filled out a part of the application in Spanish just to show him I could do it.

Had it not been for the stupid notification from the leasing office regarding my late fees, yesterday would have been a great day.  Of course, in the past, I would have let that little thing ruin it for me entirely, but I keep telling myself to just relax and be happy.  As difficult as it may be to change my perspective on things, as most of my beliefs have been nailed into my head since childhood, I am trying my best to maintain a positive outlook on everything and be happy, no matter what.  I have plenty to be happy about, and while I may not have all the things I hope to have in my life, I can see that slowly but surely, it’s all coming around.  I don’t like to get my hopes set too high on anything, as that is a sure way to lead to unhappiness, but I think despite the money issues, the next year or two should prove to be rather interesting in my life.  I am picturing big changes, and I think I am finally in the right state of mind to make those changes.  I have to pace myself, which is one of the most important lessons I have been trying to teach myself.  Slow and steady really is the way to go.  I’m not nearly as old as my grumpy half says I am and I have a long road to travel before i need to concern myself with that.

Like the title says, I have won some battles, but the war is far from over, but that’s not to suggest I am not ready to keep on winning.  Life is not going to go easy on me, I know this now better than ever, but I also know I am not any worse off than anyone else and I can’t let myself fall into the trap of thinking I am cursed or something crazy like that.  My life is no different than anyone else’s and the way to keep with the pack is to keep my head up and try to be happy, no matter what.  I know, easier said than done, but I’m getting better at it.  Wish me luck.

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~ by James on July 14, 2012.

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