“Researchers found that early success bestowed on individuals produced significant increases in subsequent rates of success.” – Sicence Daily, April 2014.
I can’t necessarily disagree with the findings of the scientific study above. An element of my life would in fact back it up. I can’t deny that in terms of work, I have enjoyed many successes. The problem is the link society makes between success and happiness. They are not synonymous. In fact, I don’t even think one necessarily leads to the other.
The friends I made following my return home were great. For the first time I had found people who liked my music, the weird bands no one else did. They liked the same sports, had a similar outlook on life, even drank the same drinks (bar the odd one who liked drinking bloody Foster’s). They took me to nights in my own town that I’d never heard of – it was amazing. I finally felt I had found my people, my tribe. Following the passing of my grandma, this had become so important for me. The problem was these guys hadn’t had the same life experiences as me, they hadn’t gone to university. That is not to be disparaging about their intelligence, each of them are skilled and talented in a multitude of areas. Obviously there’s the odd one with no common sense, but we all know someone like that, don’t we!
From staying at home, they had become part of a new trend. Through school and university I had been around people smoking the odd joint. I had smoked a few myself – although it had never really done much for me, I got why other people enjoyed smoking a blunt and chilling out, playing video games and ordering a shit tonne of food (that bit, I was good at…). But the new drug of choice was something altogether different. Chang. Charlie. Blow. Their vice was now Colombian marching powder. It was never forced on me, they aren’t that kind of group, but it was always offered around. I said no a few times, but eventually gave it a try. Once again, it didn’t really do much for me. Sobered me up a little, made me talk too much. I was certain it was crap, and it had no real impact on me.
Over the next few months I came to realise the problem with it. Not just within the group, but much wider than that. Going in to toilets for a piss in a pub now meant dodging people ramming a key up their nose, or smashing a line off any vaguely flat surfaces – including one humerous incident involving a guy realising mid line that the landlord had coated the windowsill in WD40. I don’t blame anyone for laughing at that, despite the serious subject matter, it still makes me chuckle. The scary thing about the story was that the problem was endemic enough for a landlord to take such action. This isn’t a few people buying gear on special occasions, it’s everyone and everywhere.
Now when you mention the C word these days, it conjures up the glamourised images and drama of Narco’s on Netflix. Pablo Escobar is a household name, and I saw friends genuinely upset when he died in the aforementioned Netflix series (apologies for the spoiler, but if you haven’t seen it yet that’s on you…). It’s still seen as a “designer” drug, used by celebrities and the rich, costing hundreds of pounds a time, for gear directly from the Colombian’s or Bolivian’s. This image couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s been sold and cut with god knows what 6 or 7 times, before a random guy, normally part of a large UK based drug network, in a rented car sells the end user stepped on gear for £80 a “gram”, or £40 a “half”.
Now you’re probably wondering how this links in to the title of the post… bear with me. (See what I did there?)
Work was going well, my social life felt like it was bang on track. Things were looking good… but they weren’t. I was living with a friend now, in a penthouse apartment not too far from my family home. Looking back on this period, the glaringly obvious issue was that I hadn’t allowed myself to grieve for the loss of my grandma. This coupled with a realisation that although my friends had similar interests, some of us had fundamental differences. Whether it was outlook on life, political views, or the company they kept. To try and put this in perspective, I had to draw a map to explain that Pakistan was not in Europe during a Brexit discussion. Why? Because he was voting Brexit to keep the Pakistani’s out of the UK. I cannot be friends with someone who openly espouses racist views. Sadly, this is still rife in large parts of working class Yorkshire.
It eventually dawned on me – I was spending too much money on a lifestyle I didn’t really want, in a place I had outgrown years before. The majority of the friends were square pegs that I had hammered in to the round vacant holes in my mind. The drink and drugs were a distraction and an escape from reality. I needed to make my reality better. I needed to break this cycle. I needed out.
I made my excuses, blamed work, and didn’t renew my tenancy at the apartment. I moved back in with my parents temporarily, and doubled down on my work endeavours. It worked – another promotion was soon to follow, and a fresh start on the horizon. Success breeding success, now where is that happiness?