On the bad nights

On the good days…

On good days I believe I have a future.
On good days I imagine a steady job I don’t hate, working hard but during normal hours. I imagine making enough to feel secure, and enough to pay off my loans and have savings. I imagine someday travelling with my girlfriend wherever we want to go, and also imagine finding a place where we can have a puppy. I imagine writing here and on my other blog and finally finding some confidence and a voice and maybe being able to turn my writing in to something real, something worthy of calling myself a writer for.
On good days I know that even if any of those things don’t work out the way I want them to, I won’t be a bad person and the world will not end.
On good days you can persuade me that someday thinking about being forced to leave grad school won’t make me feel like I’ve been kicked in the stomach, ready to cry as I well up with tears. That eventually life will go on and it won’t feel like such a crushing failure.
On the good days, I know that someday I’ll be fine and this whole grad-school-not-as-planned business will seem like just a minor setback.
On good days, lovely links and comments on the blog will make me feel appreciated and useful and hopeful about the future.
On good days, I can be kind to myself. I can appreciate what I did get done in a day even if I didn’t do everything I wanted to.
On the good days, everything’s going to be okay.

But on the bad nights…

On bad nights I just can’t see a future. My life drops off a cliff at the end of March and I can’t see a way forward. I don’t understand how I can be expected to–I never planned for things to go this way.
On bad nights there are no jobs, and the anxiety about money tears my sanity and my relationships to shreds. I never write another worthwhile post here, and I watch my hits trail slowly off into nothing before I finally just run out of steam. I kick myself for the time spent wasted on this stupid dream.
On bad nights I’m sure that if I don’t get a job good enough to support me, if I don’t pull myself together and get over myself already, that I am useless and stupid and deserve whatever I get.
On bad nights I know that I blew the only chance I’ll ever have to be in science, and that I’ll hate myself for that forever.
On bad nights, I mock myself for caring about stupid comments and hits and page views on a stupid fucking blog full of whiny mushy crap about nothing serious. It’s not like I can expect it to last. It’s not like anyone really cares. It’s not like I’ll ever be some great writer.
On bad nights, a day spent tired and headachy and working at little pieces of things around the edges but not really getting all that much done, that day feels like the most colossal pathetic failure ever. On bad nights, I’m a stupid self-pitying whiner who should just get the hell over herself and be productive already.
On bad nights, I can’t imagine outlasting this storm. I can’t see a way through to the other side.
On the bad nights, this one defeat at twenty-four is something I never recover from, I never get the fuck over myself and get it together.

EDIT 2/26: On the bad nights I write stupid self-indulgent painfully honest blog posts late at night and I actually convince myself that they’re worthy of posting. have kickass friends and commenters remind me that I’m not alone, and that sharing my struggles matters.


  1. You’re already a great writer, Keely. No one can see the future, so don’t beat yourself up for not being Cassandra.

    No matter what happens, you have people who love you and support you and think you’re awesome. Here’s to hoping your bad nights shrink and your good days grow.

    I linked this blog on a comment I made on another blog (yesandyes.org) and got QUITE a few replies from people who loved it. ❤

    • I almost didn’t post for that very reason! I’m still a little worried that I’m going to get a million calls checking on me today, but eh, I should probably call my mother anyhow, it’s been awhile. It’s hard to get people who don’t have similar experiences to understand that I can feel all of these things and also get up in the morning and be okay. But screw it, I think connecting with people who do get it is worth confusing the people who don’t a little bit.

      But really don’t worry Mom! I’m going to be fine!

  2. Oh, I know those nights. Listen – you are so much more than your setbacks. Your worth is not dependent on the diplomas or jobs you accrue, but rather what you put into the world: your curiosity and passion, your treatment of other people and what’s around you. And the days that are so frustrating and seemingly fruitless – it’s such a huge accomplishment to still be trying at all, to keep at all that you do, even from the edges.

    This is a Dear Sugar column that I’ve found reassuring on bad nights. It’s directed toward writing students, but I think it’s applicable for everyone: http://therumpus.net/2011/05/dear-sugar-the-rumpus-advice-column-72-the-future-has-an-ancient-heart/

  3. Everyone has good days and bad days and there is nothing we can do to change our situation but we can change our perspective on life. When we wake up in the morning, we can say things to ourselves to set our attitude for the day. If we dwell on negative things, our day will start badly and continue to be bad. If we think about positive things, we are filling ourselves with positive energy. I used to be very negative about life in general and had a lot of bad days. Now when I get up in the morning I say some positive affirmations or statements and they really help me get going. If I don’t feel very good, I say – I feel great today. If I feel like my life is worthless, I say – I am a terrific person. If I don’t feel like going to work, I say – I am looking forward to working and having a great day. At first, it didn’t make a lot of difference, but I kept doing this every day and now it is easy to believe what I am saying because it really is true – I am a great person and I do have a lot of good days. Everyone can make positive changes in their lives if they work at it every day. You can too. Try saying some positive affirmations every day and say them several times during the day. You will probably see a difference in a few days or weeks. Check out my website for more ideas http://www.imconfident.com
    Have a great day today and many more! Start believing today that you are a worthy person and never give up on yourself!

      • I’m sorry you feel that way and I don’t think you are nuts. I know positive thinking is not original – it isn’t my idea but I work with people who are depressed and I’ve seen a drastic change in the lives of those who started making positive changes in their thinking. I speak from many years of experience, being depressed and feeling worthless – about 58 years to be exact. It wasn’t until I started changing my way of thinking that my life changed.

        Positive thinking should never make you feel bad about yourself, it is supposed to make you see the good things about yourself. I hope that someday you will be able to see that. Good luck!

        • Changing your thinking can help with depression, and I do that, that’s what I’m in therapy for. I’m not depressed because I’ve failed to discover that thinking happy thoughts is a good idea.

          And no, positive thinking SHOULDN’T make you feel bad about yourself, but the research shows that for many depressed people, positive thinking advice does just that. Which is why I prefer more nuanced ideas about changing thinking, like confronting fallacies in our thoughts or practicing self-compassion, rather than reciting affirmations.

          If you’ve found what works for you, that’s great and I hope you keep it up, but please don’t assume that you know better for me than I do. I haven’t been at this 50+ years, but I have been given the same advice you gave literally hundreds of times. If it was as easy as you make it out to be, I would have been cured the instant someone first handed me a copy of “The Secret”. I wrote this post because I was having a bad night, but in general I am much, much better than I used to be, and that has come from my own hard work and finding things that work for me, as well as getting lucky as hell to have good social support and medications that work.

          Suggesting that I just need to tell myself I’m a wonderful person and everything will be okay is saying that all those efforts are meaningless. I understand that you were just trying to help, but you should probably consider that most depressed people have been told to “not dwell on the negative” hundreds of times already, and don’t really need to hear it again.

  4. Warning…I’m about to cuss on your cute lil blog!!!

    I blame the full fucking moon last night! I don’t know about on the left side, in LA, but here in the middle, in Columbus, Ohio, there was a giant, beautiful, city-illuminating full moon. It literally caught me off guard as I was driving home from the gym – so off guard that I had to pull over to chase it down for a shitty-ass iPhone pic (why the HELL don’t I carry my DSLR everywhere I go?!) and then lost it. Yes. I lost the moon. I guess I drove so low near the Scioto River that I couldn’t see it beyond the hills & trees. Total blonde moment. “Whaa?? Where the hell..It was just…damnit!”

    Anyways, I digress…I too had a shitty night last night. Without going into too much detail, because it would be a blog post of its own, my night was awful. It started okay! Walked the dog, went to the gym, saw (and then lost) the gorgeous moon, went to Bible Study, came home, cruised for eligible bachelors on Match.com, vacuumed, checked Facebook….BAM! BAM FUCKING BAM!

    My ex-boyfriend had defriended me. “Umm…duh, Ashley, that’s what SHOULD happen!” Uh, yeah, I know. But I wanted to do it first, if at all, I thought we were on good terms, even though broken up! Again, not going into the details of our torrid relationship (we dated 3 times in the past year. You can read about the first time and subsequent breakup here: beautifulwickedness.wordpress.com), but I thought we had reached a place of space between us, but friends to some extent.

    This little thing threw me into a tailspin! I questioned God’s plan for my life, who are my real friends, whose real friend am I, why’s he mad, is he mad, did the new girlfriend make him do it, and on…and on..and on…Thank goodness for best friends. For TWO FUCKING HOURS last night (in the middle of the night, mind you!), my best friends talked me out of my hysteria.

    So all of this is to say, GURRRLLLLL…I feel ya. You are not alone in those feelings. But. We are rockstars. We will feel like shit, say and think things we don’t mean about ourselves, and then pick ourselves up and move on and grow.

    …or someone once told me 😉

    • Never be afraid to cuss on my “cute little blog”. I fucking love cussing. (Blame my past as a a goody-two-shoes. Ever since I realized that good-girl shit wasn’t getting me anywhere, I’ve been leaning hard in the other direction.) Hell, half of the traffic to the post that you linked that got me all my readers came from my cousin Nicole at “Moms who drink and swear”. I love her blog to death, and she cusses more than I do.

      Also, thanks for the empathy and the confidence. I’m pretty sure my bad night came mostly out of a combo of hormonal bullshit and lack-of-sleep due to travelling. I even knew that to some degree at the time, but damn it I still couldn’t shake it.

      That’s what I hate with such a fucking passion about this depression bullshit. You can have all the logic and reassurance in the world, but if your brain chemistry isn’t on your side you’re still fucked. I’m a very introspective person, really to a practically pathological degree, and between that and many years of therapy, I have a lot of insight into the fucked-uped-ness of my sad thoughts. Unfortunately, sometimes that isn’t enough.

      But oh well. Here’s to things looking much brighter in the morning, and to best friends for helping us last until then.

  5. As long as you can keep writing like this I don’t think you will ever be without hits and followers. A very moving piece. Thanks for reminding us all that we’re not alone in our bad days. We may feel like it, but we all have some idea of what it’s like. Again, very awesome.

  6. Thank you! I guess I am lucky I can write what ever the hell I want. I just don’t care a a deep level what others think about me…and I am lucky enough that neither of my parents get to see how I really feel at times. Thank you for the honest post. Thank you for sharing you feelings with the rest of us, feelings that sometimes we are afraid of letting out in the open.

  7. Pingback: The perks and perils of ‘Positive Thinking’. | a little dose of keelium

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