“Ambition makes you look pretty ugly.”

This Tuesday, October 15, marks one year since I first visited St. Louis, Missouri. I remember that trip like it was yesterday, and can vividly feel the excitement, the nervousness and the feeling of the unknown that sat twirling in my stomach on the plane from Amarillo, Texas, to Houston, and finally to St. Louis. Considering this was the first trip I had ever taken on my own, I really did not know what to expect to see, what to do, what not to do, but I did them anyways. This was going to happen once and only once, so make it memorable, right?

In that time, I can’t lie to you and say I didn’t really think I would be leaving Texas. I didn’t believe it. Hell, up until April of this year, I sort of assumed something bad would happen and I would be stuck in Amarillo for God knows how long. (And even that isn’t true completely. I worried every minute of every day it wouldn’t work out, deep, deep down, going as far as thinking, “Oh God. What if I get in an accident while driving up there?”)

Somehow, someway, I have been in Missouri for four months. (Officially so this upcoming Thursday.) You really have to understand where I am coming from, and please excuse anything that comes off as pretentious or self-righteous.

I’m Joel. I’m nothing special. My only talent is writing, but everyone writes, pretty much any form of it hardly pays, it’s mixed in the bag of careers laughed at, and saying, “I write.” is vague. I like to explore abandoned music, and when I like something, I cannot stop liking it. Like, ever. In absolutely no way did I ever see myself doing something important, or even doing something drastic.

Because, c’mon. Me, drastic? Literally the only thing I had done close to that, prior to move, is exploring an abandoned hospital. Going outside of my comfort zone was nearly the anti-Joel, and I hated that. I really hated that.

But there was nothing for me in Amarillo.

There is family, there are great friends, some good people, an amazing NBC affiliate, aaaand that’s about it. I knew that if I wanted to do anything – be it journalism, writing, medicine, you name it – it would be not there, nor anywhere close by.

So, naturally, I did what any normal 20 year-old does and moved across the country where I knew no one and essentially restarted my life.

And I love it. I damn love it.

Somehow, someway, that happened four months ago, though. How? I mean, I am all for time moving fast, especially during my first few weeks here, but I would love to appreciate it here much more than I have been, although I am going to be in Missouri for quite a while.

Yet, I created this boundary, this gap. It wasn’t on purpose, and it wasn’t even something I once thought of forming. But, even before my move, my real-life and the one ahead of me became two different things. With everyone. With everything.

The Joel in Amarillo saw the future of 2013, 2014 and 2015. I ignored the desire to see my friends for the last time until December, and instead focused on my desire to see things that, ironically, have yet to turn out to be true.

What I did was awful, and I extend my deepest apologies to those who bit that bullet and felt as if I gave you the cold shoulder. I am so deeply sorry for that.

Luckily though, with some recent events, my mind jumped back into a much more normal point of view. It’s not necessarily like I didn’t know I was being stupid – because trust me, I did – but I refused to even form past anything from a fear, or a silly thought, or even just some sort of dream.

In some ways, I feel like the person I was two years ago and the person I am now are polar opposites. This gap I created so long ago is further proof, in my opinion, that I completely and utterly dug myself into the mess that was laughably getting worse each day. That sort of seems obvious, but you don’t understand how absurdly selfish, bitter and unrealistic I can be. I mean, it is actually really awful. So to recognize this sort of thing is just miraculous.

I discovered this revelation, and all is good right, no?

No.

Not at all.

It would be grand to say that, yes, everything for once is great, or maybe half is good, or even a quarter of it is good. And I could, but holy God would that be the most hilarious lie to tell myself.

There is a theory I’ve come up with in the past week. It’s sort of normal to most everyone I would assume, but hear me out.

For every good thing that happens, there is a negative side effect to go along with it.

At first, I chalked it up to being melodramatic and something that I would eventually stop going on about, but then I thought. And I looked at everything good that had happened to me since moving, and it all made sense.

I mean, I was right. This wasn’t easy to take in, but I sat bewildered at the fact I have yet to have a single genuinely great thing – with no side effects, with no B-sides, with no hidden face – happen all year. And don’t think I’m trying to say I haven’t had great things happen, because believe me, they have. It’s just that they fall apart over time and just end up crumbling.

I don’t get it.

St. Louis is wonderful, the people are tremendous, the entire Midwest is so much more interesting than anything in Texas — but even then, nothing ever comes easy to me. While friends and peers seemingly get what they want without question, it’s like life gave me this ‘fuck you’ sign to wear on my back to wear at all times.

I mean, yes, I did something no one else I personally know would actually go through with, and I have matured far quicker than I ever imagined I would, but it’s the everything else that gets to me these days. And really, I hate that. Just for once, I want to be that guy who gets to be on top, without hassle, doing what he loves to do.

But, that’s for later in life I suppose. Why fight it if you know you’ll lose?

Despite all this, don’t think I’m depressed or trying to gain attention, or wanting to purposely sound dramatic (as I’m sure I am right now). After years of living with help around me 24/7, living alone has opened my eyes to the things I had been ignoring all this time. I am very appreciate of that, and it’s something I like to think happens to everyone at some point in their life. Because if you spend all your days living under your comfort zone, why even bother doing anything else at all? In the end, you are just hurting yourself.

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