• Kao

Toxic Positivity

“Look good, feel good”, is what I always told myself. As long as I look good on the outside, I’ll make it through the day. From the moment I left the house, to the moment I came home, I made sure that I kept my cool, and spoke as little as possible. I would keep conversations short, you know, small talk. I can tell by the first few sentences that most people are turned off by me. Their facial expression goes from “Hey! You look pretty chill”, to “there’s something off about you...”, so I don’t even bother. I never say what they expect me, or want me to say. I’m too deadened on the inside to crack a joke, or understand their sense of humor. At the time, I barely had a sense of humor, well, not a normal one at least. I found humor in darkness. In death. In the macabre. “Normal” people could sense that, hence the awkwardness. Either way, I was too busy thinking about the drugs I used to do. Too busy thinking about the people I surrounded myself with. Too busy thinking about the porn I used to watch. Too busy still being embarrassed by some of the idiotic and downright humiliating things that I’d done while intoxicated. Too busy thinking about the fact that, despite being in a relatively good situation, I wanted to commit suicide.

Of course I didn’t tell anyone. There were two kinds of people in my life. People that knew the old me, who remembered me as a drugged up weirdo and kind of a slimeball, and people that know me now, that looked up to me. There was a separation between the two. I didn’t talk to my old friends, and I hardly had any new friends, and didn’t tell my new friends the story of who I used to be. Nevertheless, quite a few people had a high opinion of me. I was a college student, and a studious one at that. I traveled a lot. I was a community activist. I was a workout junkie. I even managed to run a marathon. I (mostly) stopped doing drugs. I posted pictures on social media of my travels, and posted positive messages to avoid looking like a total sad boy. But, there was another side. I felt like I was no longer allowed to be mediocre because of my past. So I went from being an underachiever to an overachiever. I ran hard because I was running from who I used to be. I would run till I almost passed out, and tore my legs apart in the process. I didn’t have much of a social life, so I studied and worked my ass off. Any extra money I had I blew on vacations. I rented a car and drove to California, by myself. I flew all the way to China, by myself. I had a blast, by myself. I flew to the Pacific Northwest, and hung out in Seattle and Vancouver, by myself. I was trying to fill a void. Loneliness. Depression. Guilt. Shame. Fear. But others envied me, because they didn’t see the driving force behind the superficially extraordinary life I was living. The driving force was death. I thought that I was going to die. I knew I was going to die. I was determined to die. I thought I had some strange form of cancer or weird tropical disease. I thought I was going to have a heart attack from constantly working, studying, and running. I thought the drugs that I’d done years before were going to trigger a random brain aneurysm. And if none of those things were going to kill me, I was simply going to do it myself.

I had been a delivery driver for about 2 years at that point. I liked it. It gave me a relatively high amount of freedom. I worked my own hours. I was always in my car, listening to the radio. I got to see the city. I made sure that I dressed well. I grew my hair out into dreadlocks, and I always had my headphones on. I looked like a “cool kid”. Someone who probably has their life together. Someone who had a girlfriend, a boyfriend, or both. Someone who had lots of friends and went out on the weekends. Appearances go a long way in Miami. As long as I smile and say some silly pop culture catchphrase, people will like me. If I just sing some lyrics from a popular song, people will momentarily relate to me. Hell, I only needed to be liked for a few minutes at a time, as I kept social interactions short. But I was isolated. I had too much time to think. 14 hour shifts alone in my car, with no social interaction other than cashiers, customers, and the radio DJ. “Why did I fuck my life up so much? Why didn't I make better choices? Now I’m stuck working this stupid ass job.” I obviously didn’t get paid enough. I starved myself so that I could save money and time on the road, plus I didn’t like having to stop to use the restroom. Simple things like being stuck in traffic or having to take a piss while on delivery would trigger anxiety and rage. I often contemplated suicide in between deliveries. I would stand on the roof of the luxury hotels and condos I would deliver to, and dream of diving off head first. I thought about how hilarious it would be for a body to fall out of the sky and land on some rich guy’s Lamborghini, like a scene out of Miami Vice. I would then continue on my merry way, picking up and dropping off orders as if nothing happened. Smiling at the cute girls behind the register. All I could say was “Hey, I’m here to pick up a delivery”, and hoped that she would give me her number instead. I couldn’t work up the courage to flirt, even when I knew she was interested, cause if she knew my life story, she would be dry heaving with disgust, which to be honest, would probably turn me on. I would think about people like David Goggins and how he was a Navy SEAL, and his hardcore approach to his workouts and the bestial mentality he had to have to get through his training regiment. I thought, “If he could do it, then I can do it too”. But I wasn’t a Navy SEAL. I was delivering food and trying not to kill myself. I was an expendable delivery boy for Miami’s rich playboys. After torturing myself for 12 hours straight, I would go home with 150 dollars and no serious injuries, which in itself was a blessing. “Hey, I survived, and tomorrow we’ll do it again”.

My mentality at the time was summed up by two words, JUST GO. Kind of like Nike, except I wasn’t selling shoes, but my pieces of my soul for $4 a pop plus tips. I must have had the world record for most suicide attempts in those two years. Whenever I felt like giving up, like not doing the next task to progress my life, I felt that the only alternative was suicide. Don’t wanna do your homework? Kill yourself. Don’t feel like hitting a run today? Kill yourself. Day off from work? Fucking kill yourself. Can’t sleep? Have you tried killing yourself? At one point, I had sliced into my arms, just to see if I had the courage to pierce the skin. I remember slicing my neck deep enough to leave a wound that began bleeding out in class the next day. I felt like such a failure, like such a burden on my family. I felt like I had caused so much trouble, humiliated myself to such a degree, done so much weird shit, and was so depraved, that it was either “GO or DIE”. No other options. Make money, go to school, run. Period.

And you know what? I (sort of) made it. That delusional, faux positivity actually got me through. That crazy, damn near authoritarian mindset that I subjected myself to actually got me somewhere. I graduated. I’m still running, and I started cycling too. But I stopped slaving away for the next dollar, and realized that I have an extraordinary set of skills that I can rely on. I stopped attempting suicide. With that said, I DEFINITELY do not condone attempting suicide as motivation to getting something done in your life. Again, ATTEMPTING SUICIDE AS A MEANS TO MOTIVATE YOURSELF IS NOT OKAY. THREATENING TO COMMIT SUICIDE AS A MEANS TO GET WHAT YOU WANT FROM SOMEBODY IS NOT OKAY. IF YOU OR SOMEONE ELSE IS ATTEMPTING OR THREATENING TO COMMIT SUICIDE, PLEASE CALL THE SUICIDE PREVENTION HOTLINE AT 1-800-273-8255. I am an extreme person, and I do extreme things in response to something small, because I have so much emotional baggage already. That was extreme self-medication, and I’m lucky I didn’t die. I got baker-acted for a week in the process. I almost died of a drug overdose, spending 2 days in a coma. I still have a load of problems I have to confront. I have health issues stemming from my drug and alcohol use. I still don’t have many friends. I still push myself too hard, but this time I’m working towards a tangible goal, not delivering cheeseburgers to some drunk frat boys or college football team on spring break. The faux positivity is gone. When I feel like shit, I express it now. I express my grievances. I tell people when I’m down, and talk about what I’m going through. I don’t hide my emotions anymore. I’m tired of keeping up appearances. Forcing myself to fit in and be liked cost me way more than simply being disliked for who I am. I’m tired of living in fear of self-expression. I’m done living in fear. Period.


If you or anyone you know is feeling suicidal, having suicidal thoughts, attempting suicide, or threatening to commit suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1(800)-273-8255. Things get better, life is not a hopeless pit of darkness. You can find humor, love, and happiness even in painful situations. Life is a wild roller coaster ride through an interesting and scary wormhole, and none of us make it out alive. We’re all in this together. No matter how terrible your experience is, at least you're still here to tell the story. I believe that for the sake of humankind and the collective consciousness, a bad experience is better than no experience at all.

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