“Being aware of my faults makes the issue even worse, because although I have no real reason for doing the idiotic things that led to those bad situations, I still did them.”


I have always struggled with my own self-worth.
                I’ve always been a self-centred person – although, selfish would probably be a more accurate term that a large portion of people I’ve met might agree with. I don’t think I have ever truly invested myself into anything or anyone.
                Possibly due to my interpretation of the world, I am rather paranoid that people are acting as though they are listening to me, rather than actually listening, so that perceived lack of investment that others put into me reflects what I reciprocate into others. Due to this perception of others I have always found it difficult to invest in people.

I look back on friendships and still feel this rings true. I’ve always put myself first – even though I don’t have much worth invested in myself, ironically. I’ve burnt many bridges and needlessly ruined friendships and relationships that I cared about greatly due to my own self-centeredness. I now believe it’s all due to horrible situations that happened with past friends, whom I cared about once, that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone.
                The funny thing is that I was the reason those horrible things happened. Or, in an overly romanticized way of putting it, I was the match that lit the fuse to my own demise. Being aware of my faults makes the issue even worse, because although I have no real reason for doing the idiotic things that led to those bad situations, I still did them.

I can’t help but feel disappointed in myself. There have been a lot of good people in my life that have invested much more time into me than I deserved, yet I have pushed them away. I have disconnected myself from pretty much everyone I know or knew…
                I sometimes look back on my sad, lonely, confused teenage self and wonder what he would think if he knew where he would end up. I always regarded my past self as pathetic for feeling how he did, although I can’t help but think he would feel the same about me and my situation now, if he could only have known.

I think the darkest period of my life was the first year of university, around 17-19 years old. I had recently had an emotional break up, I was feeling lost in a new place, and was experiencing the first true disconnection from friends. I felt truly alone.
                It was the first time I self-harmed, and it was the first time I felt deeply disappointed in myself. I felt so isolated that I did not know who to talk to. I remember breaking down in a lecture and then talking with my lecturer outside of class – they related to my feelings and overall situation and recommended a counsellor. 

Counselling helped.
                It not only encourages you to ventilate your problems, it challenges your perceptions and presents an outside perspective that could potentially enlighten your thought processes in a way that may not have occurred to you on your own. It’s a satisfying experience expressing yourself to an actual human being, even if it is their job. I feel that if there is one issue with it, it is that you almost never want to stop ventilating your problems.
                It is almost addictive, knowing someone is genuinely listening. It’s unusual, nearly alien. For me, it was a release from reality. From my experience, not a lot of people listen – genuinely listen – they just respond, never truly absorbing what you say. As mentioned above, I think this is a subsection of why I disconnect myself from people.

Other than counselling, I tried exercise. I mainly do cardio, although I have been doing weights, casually. It definitely gives you confidence, especially when running. It’s odd at first, though: you believe it’s almost taboo to run, as if you will be exiled as a social pariah for being different from the walking majority. However, when you start, it becomes fairly natural and freeing; to be different in a positive way.
                It is a great healer in my opinion, even though it is in a way an emotional tranquiliser, since cardio raises endorphins and forces you to feel good about yourself. In my experience, it feels as though it’s a necessity just to get through the week; almost like a drug addict needs his fix to get through a come down. However, even though I view exercise like that, I highly recommend it. Feeling good for even a few minutes is worth it in my books.

Overall, I believe we will always feel these feelings, no matter what we do. Strangely, even though I am guilty of having frequent pessimistic and nihilistic views and thoughts, I carry on. Maybe I will always feel worthless, and maybe certain people will perpetually view me as useless.
                I may not be “as-useful-as-can-be” or “of-discernible-value”, as some people might perceive those to be, but I am able to do many things to an acceptable or greater ability. I am an aspiring artist, I love to try new things and yes, I do love meeting new people.

At the end of the day, I am just a man. I have nothing to prove and not much to gain in the grand scheme of things. I am a sad man, and I believe I will always be a sad man. However, I will try to get better, and I am trying to reconnect because I want to and not because I feel like I must.


Grant is an Illustrator currently living in Cambridge, UK.
You can find his illustrations elsewhere on MAN_AGE, with links to his other creative work.