Continuing from yesterday:
I worked at McDonald’s my junior and senior years. My class rank (out of about 200) went from 4th in my freshmen year to not even ranked my senior year. I always resented that I had to work while others didn’t and pulled way ahead of me academically. Of course, some of the top ten must have worked. I probably just wasn’t aware of it. It’s a self pity thing.
Then there’s the social life in junior and senior high. (We didn’t have middle school in Bangor at that time.) I had a couple of friends that I did things with some weekends before I worked. Once I started working, I didn’t have much of a life at all.
I did meet my only girlfriend of my adolescence when people at McDonald’s set us up. It didn’t last long. We made a cute couple but had little in common. There was also the constant anxiety, and on top of that, being gay but not being fully aware of it. And, while there was opportunity, the short-lived romance did not include any physical relations.
My anxiety was probably compounded by the deeply buried truth of my sexual orientation and the fear of facing it. So, I “opted out” of dating to avoid feeling uncomfortable. Perhaps work wasn’t just about the needed money. It also gave me an escape from the social situations I both craved and feared.
I commuted to a nearby university after high school for 3 semesters. I changed my major in that short time, but still had no clue what I was doing or where I was going. I took time off to figure things out. I sometimes wonder if going away to school would have forced me to adapt and “catch up” emotionally and socially with other people my age, and find direction. I could also have had a nervous break down. Only God knows.
In the meantime, I left McDonald’s, of which I had been sick and tired for quite a while. After an unsuccessful search, I wound up working a small amount of hours at the hardware store where my dad worked for years, then wound up delivering pizzas. I became the manager of the privately owned pizza and sub shop when the former manager was caught stealing money.
I got my associate’s degree from community college while working there, but was too burned out to go right on to more college. Months turned into years and I never did get that bachelor’s degree. Another regret.
It was when I finally got out of the pizza shop to a Mon. through Fri. job that I finally started to see a lot of these things to which I was oblivious to that point. It was a mundane repetitive job and I had a lot of time to think and listen to talk radio. I finally saw the light about my bipolar depression and anxiety. Then I saw a shrink. And it was good.
In the end, it doesn’t matter what might have been. It matters what is yet to come. Besides, who’s to say things would have been so great if I’d have had more support, or privilege or popularity. Maybe it would have just caused more stress and anxiety.
I’m a stronger and more well-balanced person and a more insightful writer. I’m more spiritual and grounded. I don’t know what may yet be, but knowing where I’ve been, and being ok with it all, clears the way for good things to happen.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Well, I’m here. Bring it on, future. I’m ready.