Poor Outcomes in Life

If you are unaware or don’t believe in statistics then you are likely to become one. I grew up with the same group of guys and continued the friendship well into adulthood. I know enough about every stage of their lives to make sense of them.

In the beginning you all appear to be at the same level mostly because grade school and the legalities of age confine you. Sure, Mike might have all the swimming badges but who cares. John is an honour roll student but his grades aren’t doing anything for him right now. Dave’s grades suck and he’s good at nothing except thievery but he’s still in the same grade as Mike and John. Everyone’s future is still speculative.

Once you’re out of high school you’re free to fly as much as you are free to do nothing. From there it’s a slow rise or descent which makes being able to see the future vast disparities of inevitable outcomes difficult especially with the large dose of ego of a 20 -something-year-old.

Once time has somewhat settled the dust it all starts to make sense. It may have always made sense but to make sense you need knowledge and rationality. Broken homes and poverty is a killer combination. If you have one or the other you can get by at least with the appearance anyway. If you have both you’re a coin toss. You’re either in trouble or at best on the low-end of average. If you become the latter they’ll say, “you turned out okay.” What they really mean is that you could be a lot worse.

The few guys in the group from disadvantaged upbringings show the same thing in common. None of us had that strong enough desire or the capability to become successful or even that average guy in society. Perhaps it’s having no one to disappoint or to impress, having less fear of failure or some kind of brain wiring. Maybe if you don’t get what you need when you were young you can’t move on. I think the pitfall was using average as the barometer for success and competency.

Everyone else is living that typical life of marriage and a career. Even if they are miserable doing it or will be that’s considered normal. For them the want is there and strong. You don’t have to be happy to be considered a functional and competent adult in society.

Your early upbringing can retard your development or point it in a different direction. It might not necessarily be a bad thing but it’s not like most people. If you want to function well with society though you have to be like most people.





4 comments on “Poor Outcomes in Life

  1. Mr. J, I don’t know how old you are, but your blogs lately have taken on a somber tone. “meaning of life” questions, and all that. Maybe you are going through a “Passage,” as in Gail Sheehy’s book about predictable “crises” of adult life.

    It is a common belief that poverty and dysfunctional family life set you up for failure, and maybe they do. Our educational system and the media emphasize it over and over, but I don’t believe it has to be that way. Lots of people live down to low expectations, just as their parents did, and those before them.

    I don’t believe the answer is conformity, though. In my belief, conformity is deadening, making you a slave to others’ opinions and judgments. Playing up your individual strengths and interests may be a better path to success. Those old guys you wrote about may just be lonely and see you as friendly and approachable, for instance, yet you assumed they thought you were stupid.

    Maybe you would have success as a professional dog walker. I know someone who does quite well at that. Loves animals and old people, provides a useful service, self employed. Can pretty much set her own hours.

    This is just one example of ways you might find or develop your strengths and interests in a potentially life-supporting way. Do not cave to negative expectations. it’s all too easy to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • MrJohnson says:

      Thank you for your comment. I’m 37…not that young but old either. I’ve been going through a passage for a few years now. Although there have been many positive internal changes the dark moments hang around especially if I’m not getting good sleep.

      After seeing an old friend last week it got me thinking about some of our other friends and their beginnings and current outcomes. I found it fascinating. I’m all about self-improvement these days. In order to fix a problem you have to know there is one and then know what it is. I think many people who are lacking the design to thrive in life don’t ever realize it or do not want to admit it as it might make them feel like a deficient person. Reality sometimes doesn’t hit you in the face until there are enough obvious examples in front of you.

      Conformity might not be a good option for some. Not conforming though can sometimes bring extreme isolation. I find that the mental isolation is more painful. As much as I like to follow a spontaneous path in life, having no script to follow can at times feel like there is no meaningful purpose.

      It was a joke that I thought I looked stupid. My sense of humour can be dry sometimes. Maybe too dry. But I’m glad you pointed out that I might appear friendly and approachable. It hadn’t really occurred to me.

      Dog walking could be in my future one day. I’ve thought about it before. When I was delivering parcels before I would see this old hippie-looking guy every day walking different dogs. I remember feeling slightly envious. I’m delivering 12 packages an hour and this guy’s walking one dog at a time at his own pace?

      Even if at times I’m not feeling in high spirits I know something unexpectedly good can happen at anytime. And it tends to happen when you’re out of your usual routines and comfort zones.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mr. J, You seem to be working out some of your confusion in your blog, and it remains an honest, interesting and readable one. Obviously thought-provoking, or I wouldn’t have any response.

        And 37 is a difficult time for many people, approaching the “mid-life crisis” when all sorts of unpredictable things happen.

        You don’t sound like someone who will be able to conform, except in outer ways. Finding the balance between the self and the not-self is one of life’s greatest challenges. But conformity is boring and can be lonelier than isolation.

        Glad you like the dog-walking idea. You’re also a good writer. You may have a future in that, too.

        Liked by 1 person

        • MrJohnson says:

          My blog is often a representation of my current state of mind. I’m pretty sure I lose readers because of the volatility of subjects.

          In Canada the suicide rate is highest among people in and around mid-life. I’d imagine it’s similar in other developed countries. I think it has something to do with being at an age when one doesn’t feel young enough to start over but not old enough to give up.

          Conforming is exactly what you said…boring…and often hopeless. It’s a way of life that is confined to limiting rules. The goal of humans has always seemed to be comfort but only until it gets boring. I guess it’s a way of balancing safety and progress.

          I like the idea of becoming some sort of writer. If all else fails I’ll just devote my life to substance abuse and writing. I’m joking, mostly.

          Liked by 1 person

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