How to Blog Regularly

I’m doing an experiment where I’m asking my friends to tell me what skills of mine they admire so I can either tell them how I do it, or do it and give it to them. This is because, as a part of our recent troubles, I have been trying (with varying degrees of success) to convince as many strangers as possible to find value in me and I’m starting to have trouble articulating what that is after so many interactions that are the conversational equivalent of being picked up and put down at a garage sale.

Matthew wanted to know how to blog regularly.

This is another one I feel a little silly writing about since I stopped blogging five days a week back in December, but I had previously kept that schedule since February 2012 with very few missed days. So I lasted almost five years blogging 5 days a week with no breaks. That’s pretty cool.

The most important factor in my obsessive love of blogging was a lack of creative direction at work. As soon as I started working for myself blogging became a chore, but I kept it going for two more years because I’d already changed so much about my life that I used blogging to give myself a sense of place, but I had less clicks, less traction, and more bullshit stories. Also I complained about starting a company a lot. 

When I started blogging, I felt stagnant, I wanted to make my own creative decisions and I wasn’t able to in my day to day life. I also missed writing. I was a literature major in college, I started my career as a copywriter, but at that point, writing was the smallest part of my job. So in order to feed that echoing emptiness, I started to blog.

Like working, writing for has been a huge part of my identity for as long as I can remember. For whatever reason, if I don’t write enough in my day to day life, I feel obsessively compelled to do it in any way possible. Before there was blogging, I journaled almost daily. In college I was always working on a paper, then copywriting. Writing is how I deal with stress when I can’t work.

One of the major issues since I started the company is that I write SO MUCH now. In the beginning, I blogged for my company , I blogged for my clients. Now Kate blogs for me, but I still write all the proposals, processes, and analysis. I also write for my part time job constantly. When I’m done with that writing, it’s really difficult for me to think of what to write about on my own time, although sometimes I still feel inspired.

The older I get, the more I value my ability to get my meaning across via writing. I don’t know if my social anxiety has gotten worse, or if it took 30+ years to notice exactly how awkward I really am in person, but my face to face interactions tend to leave me with a lot of stress about my inability to communicate well. I think I freak people out. I mean, I probably freak people out on the blog as well, it’s not like I’m a different person in writing or anything, but on the blog the person has the option to go away. When I’m right there in front of them saying this kind of shit, most people will also find a reason to go away, but it’s slightly more obvious for me.

Working and writing are the things in my life that belong to me the most. Which is maybe why I feel so gutted by my recent business struggles. It’s literally not business, it’s personal. Here I have invested in the two spheres of myself that have always been safe for me, and it didn’t work. I mean, yeah it worked for three years, but it isn’t working now. My happy place has become distinctly unhappy. 

Recently, I’ve been trying to answer the question of who am I without outside validation. Like the validation I got from work and writing all these years. So far, the answer is profoundly sad. 

How to Run the Show

I’m doing an experiment where I’m asking my friends to tell me what skills of mine they admire so I can either tell them how I do it, or do it and give it to them. This is because, as a part of our recent troubles, I have been trying (with varying degrees of success) to convince as many strangers as possible to find value in me and I’m starting to have trouble articulating what that is after so many interactions that are the conversational equivalent of being picked up and put down at a garage sale.

Heina wanted to know how to run your own show.

I feel a little funny answering this one since I’ve been thinking that’s the last skill I have at this point, but the truth is that even if we don’t make it through this round of We’re Fucked, It’s Over, I’ve been doing this on my own for the last three and a half years and I accomplished a lot of what I wanted (move to Oregon, make my own schedule, feel confident in my professional abilities – most of the time), as well as some things I didn’t even know I could do (aid in the professional development of others, pay a living wage, get rid of some debt).

Since the answer is such a complicated knot of experience, education and instinct, I’m just going to write about how I learned how to be my own boss and hopefully that will be insightful. Because there’s no right way to be a boss. There’s lots of wrong ones, and I’ve done that too. But leadership is not a tiny flag they hand you in first grade that you must carry with you always. It’s a responsibility that any of us not only can rise to, but that we have an obligation to strive for in whichever way suits us best. Not for ourselves, but for all the kids like us who probably didn’t get flags or maybe who did and were never given the opportunity to see the diversity of leadership styles and paths that are available to them.

The first business I had was called I’m Hungry and Scared to Go Home. This is actually where I learned to make stubbornness into a commodity. My friends all wanted to go to the convenience store and get ice cream. I very badly wanted not to have to go back to my house. I can’t remember if it’s because we had no money, because I was afraid of my mom, or both, but I was hungry and I needed a way to deal with that immediately. I walked up to one of our neighbors doors and asked if she needed any light bulbs changed or if I could sweep her walk. She told me that she did need a light changed, but that it was too high off the ground and she didn’t want to deal with the home owners insurance if I fell and broke my neck. She gave me $5 to go away. This is probably my most monetarily successful venture to date, both in terms of sunk cost vs. profit as well as the timeline to solvency.

I didn’t hold a regular person job until I went to college. I worked under the table as a house cleaner, a gardener, sign-shop assistant and tutor. One time I was even a background extra on a TV commercial. I learned that work made me feel, for the first time, like I was valuable. There was a one to one correlation between how much I worked and how much money people gave me. Up until I started working, my tenacity, my outgoing personality, and my assertiveness were punished instead of rewarded. In the working world, such that it was for me at that time, I was praised and–more importantly–paid for these skills.

In college, I was in the work-study program, and I learned for the first time that sometimes people just didn’t show up for their shifts. Other students I worked with would frequently not show up to work and not call and there was nothing the college could really do about it. But I lived in a reality where if I didn’t work, I didn’t eat. That had been there from the very first day of my working life. Add to that the feeling working gives me, and there is no way in hell I don’t show up. This became problematic later when my inability to take sick days actually helped exacerbate my horrible burn out, but almost every business owner I know shares this unwillingness to quit for better or for worse.

Success is so frequently the intersection of training and passion. All the different jobs I worked, all the hours I poured in to school, getting up day after day on three hours of sleep, making finances stretch, grocery shopping with a calculator, getting to that professional place and still hating the way that I loved work but work didn’t love me. Hating the way my fellow workers were exploited and mismanaged even as the work itself redeemed so many people, myself included.

At the last job I had before I launched this current venture, I really had enough. We were supposed to protect workers, and we manipulated them. We ground through good people and we used every bureaucratic loophole in the book to promote mediocrity in the interest of not rocking the boat. We failed to engage people’s creative minds, and we punished them when they tried. We were a bastion of paper-shuffling, blame-passing clock punchers. If we had processes, I would say that we made people slaves to it, but we didn’t even have that. Half the time we spent was used up constructing fantastical justifications for why we even existed, rather than going out into the world and showing people. We never kicked our own tires and as a result we were both unprepared and injured when something inevitably exploded. As a result, the executives used lay-offs as a way to balance the books, rather than the strategic restructuring that comes before a massive change in direction.

The one bright spot in my otherwise miserable childhood had been work. I had been useful and valuable and my last job stripped that joy from me as surely and as easily as a chef guts a fish. It’s important for me to recognize that my obsession with being useful is problematic. Ever since I was abandoned by my parents, I have operated on the fallacious assumption that I have to make people like me, or at least tolerate me everywhere I go. My own parents tossed me out. There must be something fundamental about myself, so fundamental, in fact, that it was obvious to them even before I could properly talk, that causes people to leave me, to forget me. Therefore, I will be the most useful person they have ever met. I will be the best, the stickiest, the most apparent human any human could ever be. And I know about this, I’ve said affirmations to myself, both naked and clothed, in every mirror I own. At a certain point, I decided the way to process this grief is to stop feeling bad about how it effects me. 

So, here I am. I have an insatiable need to be useful, that’s helped me collect some pretty necessary skills. I am passionate about work and working, and I have this theory that the key to market domination is to find good people and pay them good money. But I don’t have any money. Which is really my only problem. And I think I can solve that. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is that the key to being your own boss is to always have one more trick up your sleeve. By which I mean that you have to care about something so hard that you will reach up there and tear off anything you can find if it means one more day living life on your own terms. It’s more of a pathology than a skill when I think about it.   

The Experiment

This is an experiment. Perhaps a terrible one. I’m tired of trying to prove my skills have value to strangers. If there’s something I do that you wish you could do, or more specifically that you wish I would do for you or tell you how to do, post a reply here, or message me and I’ll turn it into a blog post, either about how to do the thing, or I’ll actually do the thing and send it to you in addition to doing it.

Because lately I’ve been feeling like my only skill is taking a beating and getting back up. Which is great, people tried to shame me about my apparent gluttony for punishment when I was a kid and didn’t know how to back down, but I’ve made my peace with tenacity and I do value it, but surely there’s more to me than that. Right?

Okay, So Maybe I Go Sideways with This Ship

Since I so brazenly shared a low point yesterday. I want to update you guys. Mondays are always hard when things aren’t going well because they represent lost time. Every Monday is a new week to try an catch up to where I think I should be. A blank slate with nothing to show for itself. By Friday, I’m either too exhausted to care, or more often than not, have at least something I didn’t have on Monday.

The thing about taking weekends off (from this job at least; it is Ghost Tour season) is that Monday becomes a weird monolith, rising out of the pool of weekend relaxation empty and terrifying. It’s better than working 7 days, 12-17 hours because that way had me skidding along the bottom of my abilities from day to day with absolutely no resources. This Sonic the Hedgehog style controlled fall while grabbing everything in sight is actually a massive improvement.

Like I said in the update on yesterday’s post, we went from 5 days to live to 3 weeks in the span of about 12 hours. This perceived massive recovery was actually my own cautiousness coming out to save me… after first hurting me because I was totally freaking out, but it’s a learning process after all.

I got no sleep Sunday night. I still got up, had my little cry, wrote my to-do list and got my ass to work. At the same time, I still took breaks for meals and drank plenty of water, which let me work longer and had me more clear-headed than if I had done things the old way and started working at 2am when I realized I wouldn’t be sleeping. Instead, I laid still listening to audiobooks all night and trying to breathe normally so at least my body would be rested and then I made sure to fuel accordingly during the day. When I felt like I needed a change of venue, I went to the coffee shop because I know from experience that trying to force myself to work in my office at home is impossible and even more exhausting than when I take the time to pack up and change location.

No matter what happens with the business in the coming weeks, I really appreciate the level of adulting I seem to be capable of. I get that there are a lot of ways to learn these skills, and I’m really grateful that I got to learn them this way, on my own terms.

I Go Down With This Ship

As you guys know, I haven’t been blogging at my regular schedule for the last few months. My podcast has also fallen off, even though I’ve been recording them (well, one of them). I haven’t had the time to convert and publish the files.

The agency has become my all-consuming priority. Despite the fact that I haven’t taken a cent of pay since January, I have spent every free second there, but it wasn’t enough. I took a part time job to offset costs, and even though I drew a firm boundary that the job came second to the company, I slipped in that regard so terribly and so obliviously that we have come to this point.

We are operational for exactly one more week and then everything closes down.* We’ve been here before. But we moved faster back then. I will carry on wrapping up loose ends until the end of the month and then we will close permanently.

And I don’t feel anything but obligation, though not in a bad way. For the first time in my life, I can really say that this is my profession in addition to being my livelihood and my passion. Because a professional knows that, no matter the circumstances you show up, you practice your craft, and you manage yourself. Catastrophic changes of fortune for better or for worse are only scheduling issues. Suddenly you have more time in the schedule, suddenly you have less.

This is something I should be writing about well after the fact. After I’ve pulled our ass out of the fire. After everybody is safely re-homed and nostalgic for the time I tried to start an agency. How delightfully young and unfettered. What an adorable little mistake those crazy four years of my life. Coming on the heels of the adorable little five year mistake that was Los Angeles after college, that was college itself, that was everything that ever hurt me or showed me who I am.

I don’t know what will happen. I can see the wrong turns that projected me off this cliff so clearly from this state of free-fall that I want to catalog them before I get distracted by whatever comes next, which will be entirely consuming whatever it is. Because that’s who I am. I only ever contemplate trajectory between the frying pan and the fire and I don’t necessarily mind it. If I didn’t do things like this I’d still be in the frying pan wondering about the bacon smell.

I should have broken more eggs. Ironically, for being such an off the cuff person, I became obsessed with process when I had other people working with me. The risks I took as an individual seemed untenable with other people on board, which may have been a smart impulse, but it went too far.

Even as I became very conservative in terms of process, I remained too casual in presentation. I realized too late that the things I did as a person to put clients at ease actually made them question my professionalism as an agency executive. I focused too much on my work and too little on my outcome. I was still a soldier when we needed a general.

As a result of all these things, I started to isolate. When it was crucial that I go out into the business community and represent us as the knowledgeable, young go-getters we were telling ourselves we were, I spent a lot of time hiding in my house or behind the laptop, exhausted from my part time job and my personal dramas, not just unwilling but physically incapable of spending one more second shaking hands and making business talk.

In the end, I rearranged my schedule, re-stated my priorities and dove back into community life, but it may be too late for us. I would like to say that I regret that these lessons won’t get to be applied, but they will be. Maybe not here, maybe I don’t deserve the luxury of applying lessons in my own company anymore, but somewhere.

If we close now, or if we close 20 years from now, I regret nothing. Even if I would do so much of it differently today. Part of me wants to say that I am sorry for the team I assembled and have to let go, and maybe it’s selfish but I’m not. I picked skilled, driven, smart women to work with me and nothing is going to stop them from being successful and lucrative wherever they go. I have complete faith that this was just a small interlude in an otherwise upward trajectory for us all.

For the next 5 days, I will be working frantically to save what I can. Like I said, we’ve been here before, but how many times can one ship sink and then bob triumphantly back to the surface? And is this the point where the captain becomes resigned to her fate, or is it the point at which she realizes she’s been driving a god damned submarine all a long?

* In the span of 12 hours this statistic has changed. We are currently operational until Aug 31. I don’t need to ride roller coasters, I have a business. For now.

Trump Dildo

Hey bros. Cool new thing.

It’s called Trump Dildo and you should get onto it dudes.

Regular Trump is boring.

Also he is lame.

Lame.
Lame.

 

Trump Dildo is cool.

Cool.
Cool.

Also he’s a dildo. Post Trump Dildo for coolness, Internet friend.

The Logical, Educated Argument for Replacing Every Picture of Donald Trump with this Dildo in Trump Hair

This is Donald Trump
This is Donald Trump

This is for all y’all Democrats because I know you love this cerebral wordy college shit.

Michael Moore has said he believes only satire can bring Trump down. So far,  Democrat offerings in that regard tend to be smug, overly-analytical and rely heavily on irony. A concept most of us only pretend to understand in order to justify the crippling student loan debt we acquired at 18 and will likely carry with us into retirement. We could have purchased a farmhouse in Missouri, but who wants to live in a fly-over state, am I right?*

Very few people fail to understand the concept of a dildo. It’s fake beef. A plastic, orangey substitute for what you really need. It has no pulse, no soul, and sometimes the dog finds it under your pillow and chews it’s sad helpless head off. It’s literally filler.

Thus, the humble dick joke. Uniter of wo(men). We already know from His inability to take a simple finger-mocking that Trump is fundamentally insecure, particularly about the size of his no-doubt underperforming penis. What better way to bring us all together behind this ineffectual tool than to ensure that a vote for Trump is explicitly a vote for Dildo.

Are you, Trump supporter, afraid of change? Are you angry that your elected officials don’t seem to work with you at all? Look on this Trump Dildo and despair. Don’t be swayed by Trump’s empty promises. Don’t forsake the real world for 5-speeds of artifice claiming to make your cunt America great again. Don’t be fooled by the technological marvel of his carefully sculpted dome, I implore you. Do you think that Trump validates your race fear (also known as racism)? Do you believe that he will keep you safe from those unpatriotic fucks who would import illegal immigrants at the same speed at which they export your jobs? I have terrible news for you. Donald Trump’s word is his bond in the same way that this cold, plastic buggerclaw  is your God damned boyfriend, do you get me?

Therefore we must draw back the curtain on this fool, my collegiate fellows and Dildo Trump is the way. Please cease this senseless overestimation of our quarry. The Trump voter will only appreciate our thesis in dick form. Go forth and propagate this image. For democracy. For America.

*This kind of shitty cultural elitism is why were losing to the human dildo, Trump, by the way.

Important reminder about the Hillary/Trump fight

We are too busy fighting over who is the Hitler (race-bating Trump or election-fixing Hilary). We are missing the fact that this is (hopefully) the culmination of a racist agenda, not of whites against the rest of us, but of the super rich against the American people; using the only leverage that is more powerful that money: culture. You see, super rich people tell the racial majority in this country that it is not their (the middle class) fault they can’t buy all the things that are marketed to them. It’s their (minority groups) fault. Those minority groups are taking white jobs and pushing good white Christians (as opposed to bad Muslims and other heathens of color) out of a market they are entitled to dominate. This is done to hide the fact that the true fault belongs to union busting thugs (like Trump) and their ineffectual career politician lap dogs (like Hillary) who keep the rif raf down by removing options and pitting the common people against each other, not as part of a vast conspiracy, but because it’s good business. 

In a world where business can (legally) only measure success in terms of money and not economic or social value, this becomes best practice. 

It’s true that we have to vote for one of these animals. I think anybody reading this would agree with me that Hillary is the least Hitler of the two. I mean, only one of these freaks is advocating to make minorities carry special ID and it’s not her. 

Honda: Just don’t sit in the front

Letter from Honda: Hey so you might be accidentally exploded by your air bag. Try not to let passengers sit in the front seat.

Me: [Calls dealership]

Ron Tonkin Honda: Yeah, the parts for those repairs aren’t here until Fall. If you want a free rental, or whatever you have to show up with another person between 9am and 4pm Tuesday through Friday.

Me: During the time most reasonable people are at work.

Ron Tonkin Honda: Those are our hours and the hours of Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Show up or don’t. It’s up to you.

This part is verbatim:

Me: Yeah, well thanks I guess.

Ron Tonkin Honda: Uh huh [hangs up]

For reference:

First of all: Why do I get the cold shoulder/rude bullshit? I DIDN’T GIVE MYSELF EXPLODING AIR BAGS OVER HERE.

Second of all: I can take time off my job and so can my husband because we’re upwardly mobile professionals, despite the fact that we suddenly own far less car than we originally purchased. Unlike… say, teachers. Or cashiers. Or the myriad of other professions for whom an hour off work is actually a lifetime off work because you will be fired.

Third of all: Does anybody else find it odd that the passenger side airbag is the only surprise exploding one? Not… say, the driver side airbag as well. Were there separate contracts for passenger and driver? Were they installed at different times or with different materials?

Forth of all: I have to store my now car somewhere while we’re waiting for these parts. Fellow Portlanders will understand that people who live in apartments in Portland don’t get parking. That means I get the luxury of A. driving the exploding airbag car far far away where a family member can store it or B. moving the exploding airbag car around the neighborhood like the useless burden it has become. THANKS HONDA.

Oh, and no compensation for selling me a murder car. That would be silly.

UPDATE

So we went to get our rental car this morning. Which means that both Ben and I took time away from our job (him) and my company (me) to deal with this airbag situation. 

Technician: [Checks car] You have a passenger side recall? 

Me: Yes [Proceeds to tell the above story] 

Technician: Wow, that’s really rude. I’m sorry. However, we aren’t giving away rental cars for passenger side airbags. 

[The owner comes over] 

Technician: Tell him what you told me 

Me:blah blah blah, you know this part. 

Owner: Wow, that is really rude. I’m going to remind everybody about our policies, because you don’t get a rental car. It’s not that big of a deal anyway because the exploding is really happening in cars older than 2004 and in the south where the humidity is degrading the airbag solution.

 ._.  

Me: Thanks I guess. 

Owner: You’re welcome. 
I could have said something. I could have pointed out that this isn’t my fault and yet, I have just dealt with his rude and unhelpful employee who gave me incorrect information and lost me not one, but two mornings worth of work. I could have made him do anything other than usher me out the door but I am tired. 

No, dear reader Ron Tonkin Honda is not the hill I will die on. Not today.

To the Young, Oppressed American, Whomever You May Be

There’s a universal truth that nobody wants to look at, despite the fact that it is probably the most pervasive reality on earth.

Some parents hate their children.

Saddler still, some parents love their children but have no way to protect them, from themselves, from the abuser, from the cold and uncaring consequences of their own failures.

So we have nowhere to seek solace. In a world that also hates us for reasons of its own, there is no hiding. And it’s unfortunate, but I need you to buck up. Because, out of the 7.125 billion lost, sad, and abused bastards on this slowly dying space turd, you happen to have the extreme luck to be born one of the 318.9 million Americans. This could also apply to any one of the 35.16 million Canadians, 64.1 million United Kingdom residents, 23.13 million Australians, and so on… but this is America, so suck it other countries.

You have options available to you that other people can only dream of. And you probably don’t even know what they are. Because why would anyone tell you when it’s in the majority of their best interest to keep you small, afraid and ineffectual.

I had the benefit of some great teachers when I was younger, and I’m going to compile those lessons here for you. Read them, but know that they’re only my experience of what worked. If you only internalize one sentence in this entire blog post, it should be the next one. You have options. Just because someone says you have to do something doesn’t mean you do. Just because you don’t know anybody who’s ever accomplished the things you want doesn’t mean you can’t.

Handle yourself. Go to the nearest mirror and look into it. You are the parent now. Your parents can’t feed you, can’t keep you safe, but someone has to and you’re the only one here. This is where being an American is the best thing you have going for you. We are surrounded by wealth and you don’t need that much to survive. Start cleaning houses, mowing lawns, sell fucking oranges by the side of the freeway. Get an income stream that is independent of anybody else. Don’t get a job you need a ride to get to, don’t use parental connections, make something entirely yours. Live off this money. Whenever possible, hide a bag with a change of clothes, as many underwear as you can spare and some food that doesn’t parish. This is your bug out bag, and you may need it someday. Figure out how to escape your room when you’ve been locked in it. If the violence is escalating, don’t go home. It won’t get better, it will only ever get worse. If they say it will get better, that’s a lie and it will only ever get worse.

Some people want you to die. Whoever you are, this statement is true. They may be close or far away, known or unknown, but they wish you were dead and they will take steps to starve you out of this life. Decide if you will fight or if you will die. I recommend fight because dying will take so much longer and be so much more horrible than you think. Even more horrible than it is now, even more horrible than the worst days in the fight. If you will fight, fight. Do not let them tell you where to go, what to say, or how to act. Do not let them tell you what your options are. We already covered this, but they are lying. Figure out what game they’re playing, learn all the rules to it and beat the pants off them. Find the loophole, get what you need on a technicality if you have to. This isn’t semantics, it’s survival.

Lie. Whenever possible, lie to people who show an inability to hear your truth. They want you to lie to them. That’s why they change the subject when you start to talk about what’s really going on, that’s why they minimize the impact of what you’re telling them. They want you to tell them you’re fine. Say you are and move on. This is not an ally, this is a roadblock to your ability to thrive.

The truth is a powerful weapon. Use it to your advantage. Unleash it only when it stands to do the most damage to the oppressor and the least to you. This usually means when you’re free and clear of the situation and safely out of their control. Alternately, it can be deployed if you’re backed into a corner as a last resort.

There’s safety in numbers. The poet Jenny Zhang has said “I’m not going to accept the mentorship of people who don’t see me, don’t know me, and don’t understand me.” Conversely, if you have someone who’s in the shit with you, who knows from experience exactly what it feels like to be hated and cast out by your own parents, they may be an ally. If they are trustworthy (if they say they’re going to be somewhere and they show up, they don’t make promises they can’t keep) trust them with a small thing (will you keep this dollar for me until the end of the day, for example) and see what happens. If they can be trusted, you may have found somebody who can watch your back. Don’t get comfortable, though. Circumstances change and allies can become enemies over time.

Beware of caretakers. Some people will think it’s romantic to be friends with you. You are a waif, a scoundrel who’s own parents have cast them out. It’s like a cartoon they watched in their safe house with their good parents while you were hiding in a closet or a bush or any other kind of cover you could find to keep them off you. I’m not saying not to be friends with normal people. Normal people are the reason I graduated from high school. But you have to know that you need more than they can provide. If you try to rely on normal people, they will begin to resent you. After all, it’s not their fault you’re like this. If a normal person offers you something too eagerly, especially if they’re an adult: beware. People always want something in return. You are broke, young and you have no resources. They will probably want to fuck you, and they’ll probably imply that raping you is justified because you accepted whatever gift or assistance they offered initially. This is why it’s so important to handle your own shit. If you don’t owe anybody anything, they can’t collect in the form of your ass.

Find a sanctuary. This could be any place where you feel protected, where people won’t turn you in to child services, where hours or maybe even days can be spent in safety and relative comfort. Make sure that no one controls access to this space. The public library, for example is public space and therefore no one can be banned from the library. Sanctuary can also mean a cultural association like a church or a youth group. If you’re going to find sanctuary in youth-oriented space, be careful. Rules designed to protect normal children can also be used to make you vulnerable and dependent on services that either can’t be relied on, or come with too high a price (see previous paragraph). The good news is that anybody who tells you you have to follow their rules in order to be happy is lying to you. Always remember that you have options.

And finally…

Forget about all of this. If this works, you’re going to wake up one day in a glorious future. A future you built yourself, a future where you are safe and you don’t owe anything to anybody. You must become a soldier who hones his skills, praying for a time when they are no longer needed. Your dis-empowered youth is only a hurricane, terrible but brief in the scope of your life. Giving this shit up will be almost as bad as learning it in the first place, but it’ll be worth it. Tell yourself that this is likely where your parents stopped trying if you need motivation to press on. Don’t be like them. Don’t fuck this up.