I Just Wnt To Be Happy

Reply Fri 21 Jul, 2017 11:38 pm
My name is Jack. I'm 16 years old and am currently staying with my mother in Las Vegas for the summer. Despite my generally privileged life I can't seem to be happy. I've narrowed it down to a couple reasons. Firstly my feelings towards my parents. Despite me loving them dearly I harbour some sort of resentment towards both of them. Firstly my dad for letting his job as a journalist move me twice. Despite the first time from New York to Berlin being pretty good due to me making some of my best friends there it was incredibly painful for me to leave them when we moved to London. London was a nightmare. The schools were strict, I hated uniforms and at the first school people wouldn't stop making fun of my accent. After two years of this I decided to go to boarding school which I will be at next year. I'm doing so partially to get away from it all but also to possibly show him what that pain of being without someone you care about is like. My mom however is a different story. Unlike my dad she doesn't have a lot of money and is barely scraping by. It's also worth mentioning that despite being a breast cancer survivor she smokes constantly. Of course having cancer isn't her fault but seeing her destroy herself with that is incredibly painful for me. Because of these things my goal is to be like my parents as little as possible. Even though I have my priorities straight I've realized that I'm still unhappy. I'm writing this because of what happened today. Annoyed with my mother's scraping by I idiotically demanded she give me the fifty dollars she borrowed from me a few weeks earlier. She told me she hadn't paid me back because she had no money due to paying for other things to make me happy. She then told me whilst crying how embarrassing it is to have to borrow money from her teenage son which caused me to break down in guilt. I realized how much of an asshole I was and begged for forgiveness. She did and we made up but I now feel guilty as all hell. The only thing that came out of it was that I now know why I'm unhappy. It may sound cliché but you cannot buy happiness. All the enjoyable things in my life don't make me happy. They distract me from how unhappy I actually am. I know I come off as a spoiled brat and I'm sorry. Last week at an amusement park I would desperately rush to a new ride after I finished one because in between each ride I would feel a sense of loneliness and despair and would want to distract myself from it as quickly as possible. I just want to be with someone. Friends, family, it doesn't matter. Just someone to talk to and feel acquainted with. This I know will make me happy. At least I hope so. So now I'm writing this. It's 10:20 at night, my mom is asleep and I'm trying to figure out what to do next. Hopefully being closer to people in boarding school will help. Writing this as a form of therapy has helped. Thank you for reading. If you have any advice on how to help myself please let me know
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Reply Sat 22 Jul, 2017 09:39 am
Welcome to teenaged angst.

We pretty much all get it. Best cure for it is to turn 18 or so.

But in the meantime - a few ideas.
  • Connect with your friends and spend time with them, either in person if they are in LV or on Skype if they aren't. That is, keep your interactions with your folks separate from your friend interactions.
  • Earn some money this summer, if you aren't already. And contribute a small amount of it to the household with each paycheck. You are close to being grown up and could stand to be a part of the household as a semi-adult. I am not talking about a lot of money. It's more like, tell your mom you're going to start paying for all of your own toiletries. Shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, if you need anything for acne, shaving stuff, etc. If you were a girl, I would tell you to add makeup to that list (and if you wear makeup, I won't judge, but how can you keep it on in the Las Vegas heat?). These kinds of contributions will help make you more responsible and will take some of the financial pressure off your mother.
  • The way to earn money can be small, as I realize you probably don't have access to a car. You could take care of kids, walk dogs, or house sit for people who are on vacation. You can tend to lawns and you can clean gutters and the like. Even if you are rolling in dough, it can really help your self-esteem and your sense of responsibility to have a job, no matter how small. After babysitting (true story), my first job was wearing a sandwich board sign to advertise a local ticket place. I made $4/hour in 1979, which was above minimum wage. And I used it for exactly what I am talking about - to buy my own personal care products. I still recall that time fondly. Smile
  • Try to find ways to spend time with people your age in person, particularly if your friends aren't in the area. You might be able to work for a few weeks at a day camp as a junior counselor. Or there might be summer classes - even if you don't have to or want to study, you might be able to audit a class at a local high school if it's something you'll be taking in the fall back home and you think it might be a difficult subject for you.
  • Try to find ways to get out, even if it's not to see friends. I realize LV in the summer is like being in an oven, and you need a car to get pretty much everywhere. Maybe your mother can drop you off somewhere in the morning and get you at noon or later. If there's bus service, even if it's lousy, it might not be so bad if you're not on a set schedule to get anywhere. One thing you might want to try is photography. LV has interesting architecture, and it also has tawdry, tacky stuff. See what you can spot with your phone's camera.
  • Another idea is to write. You could journal or even start writing fiction. The library could be a great place for this as it would be (a) out of the house, (b ) air conditioned, and (c ) safe. Plus there are bathrooms, so it's better than just walking around - and it's free. Your writing is good and if it is any indication of how you normally write, then you are over halfway there in terms of getting started with writing. In the interests of full disclosure, I am a published author and I work as a freelance writer so I like to promote people writing. PS Don't worry if you think it stinks. Your first quarter million words (no lie) probably will. Hang in there if you enjoy it.
I'm sorry you feel this way, Jack, and I do understand your concern for your mother. There is also, beyond this, counseling. But I think you may find if you interact more with people outside your family and keep broadening your horizons, some of this angst will be diminished. I also found that music helped a lot, but what I was listening to at your age was Lynyrd Skynyrd and Zep, with a dollop of Fleetwood Mac (it was 1978). That can help, too.
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