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My Search for Motivation

This post is more specific to my emotional struggles than my finances. It appears here because my financial circumstances are largely driven by my emotional state and my tendency to make the same mistakes over and over again. I think that exploring, dissecting, and understanding my emotional pitfalls will help me avoid repeating the financial missteps that led to this blog.

“So how are you doing?” she asked

I paused the video game for a moment and looked over at my roommate’s girlfriend sitting next to me on the futon. She was waiting for Mike to finish showering before they went out on their date.

“I… uh. It’s kind of hard to say…”

No it’s not.

“What do you mean?”

No harm in being honest with her, since I’m not trying to date her and I’m not interested in her that way.

“I never thought I would be this unhappy with this much money,” I replied bluntly.

“Oh?”

I gestured to the gigantic screen in front of me. “I play video games to take my mind off my own thoughts. I’m hoping that the more time goes by that… something will click inside me and I’ll be motivated to do something.”

I sighed.

“I just feel so empty inside. I don’t see a point to doing anything anymore… I feel like I’ve tried everything but no matter what I do, I’m never going to be able to attract someone I want into my life.” I set my controller down, “That there’s no point in exercising, dressing well, making a lot of money, going on dates, writing, socializing… improving myself, learning to cook, buying a new car, being honest…”

I pursed my lips. I was rambling again.

“And when you realize that it doesn’t matter what you do, that you’re always going to be alone and there’s nothing you can do about it… it just kills your motivation to do things. To even try anymore. Because what’s the point? Nobody wants to be alone.”

I swallowed.

“I have more professional and financial success than I ever thought I would have at this point. I have everything going for me and yet I feel so empty inside. I feel like I’m wasting away my life and I don’t even see a point in changing.

I shook my head and repeated myself,

I never thought I could be this unhappy with this much money. I just feel so empty inside and I struggle to care about anything anymore. I struggle to see the point in trying.”

I still don’t understand the point in any of this. And so I just try to live as comfortably as I can until the day I finally get to lay down and die.

Mike came out of the shower and she gave me some parting words of encouragement before joining him. I tuned everything out and went back to my video game.

In an interesting place right now, emotionally.

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The Lord Was With Him

“Have you considered that maybe the Lord wanted you to have this job, instead of your old one? That this was his plan all along?”

I paused before replying, exhaling into the night as my breath formed little clouds in the December air.

“I mean… maybe?” I replied weakly into the phone.

I looked down the street to make sure no one was listening. I had stepped outside earlier when I was raising my voice to ensure nobody in the house could hear what I was saying to my brother over the phone.

“Greg, I’m not sure that anyone could look at your current position as anything but an enormous step forward for you, professionally and financially.”

I nodded absently. I missed my old job dearly, but there was truth to his words. Objectively speaking, notwithstanding the bitterly unfair chain of events that occurred, there was no denying what he said was true in every respect.

“I just… wish that there was a less painful way that this could have happened.” I said quietly.

Like the annoying guy at every party, I was fixated on what was wrong rather than what was right.

After reflecting on recent events in my life, I’ve gained a newfound appreciation for the story of Joseph in Egypt. His life teaches us that at times, the Lord’s plan for you may necessarily include the injustices you will suffer at the hands of others in order to bring about greater blessings in your life.

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What do you enjoy doing?

This post deals with accepting myself. Why would I put this on a blog about debt? Because my financial health is directly influenced by my emotional health.

The worst question, the one I hate above all others (and its variants) comes up on first dates:

“So what are your hobbies? What do you do for fun? What do you enjoy doing?”

This question almost always puts me on the defensive as I try to come up with an honest answer that doesn’t suck. Usually I just come off as really boring.

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Light at the End of the Tunnel

This may come as a huge surprise to some of you, but when I originally started this blog back in 2013, I was working to get out of debt. The blog’s main purpose was to help me regain control of my spending habits through a combination of financial transparency and public accountability.

It was pretty effective; I wound up paying off something like $24,000 of debt in nine months. Considering my full-time income at the time was $37,000, I was proud of my progress. It took a lot of hustling, extra jobs, and strict budgeting to reach that point.

By early 2014, I had completely paid off all my credit cards and owned my (very old) car outright, no car loan. All I had left were my student loans. Sometime around that point, I stopped being open about my income, debt, and progress for reasons I’ll explain momentarily.

The purpose of this post is a return to transparency and accountability. My financial circumstances have changed a great deal since I stopped blogging about them in 2014. In some ways things are much better than they were (income), in other ways, things are worse (debt).

In both ways, I am self-aware enough to recognize that it would be wise for me to incorporate a measure of public accountability once again, especially since I can finally see the light at the end of this financial tunnel.

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My Break from Social Media

About two weeks ago, I cut off all my social media accounts. This decision was largely prompted by realizing that after recent events, I was often feeling worse about myself whenever I checked my various feeds; in some cases, a lot worse. There were too many painful reminders.

I had often stumbled across different studies online that suggested a relationship between social media and depression. So I pledged to quit for 90 days and pulled the plug. I deactivated my Facebook account, my Instagram account, and my long-neglected Twitter account. I deleted Snapchat years ago, reasoning that if your picture/caption was actually funny, you’d have it immortalized on Instagram, not thrown away in a Mission Impossible-style self-destructing Snapchat message.

It’s been a little weird, to say the least. But also very, very liberating. Perhaps the most shocking part, to me, was how little I actually missed it all, along with how much more productive I became. Here are some reasons why.

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Why I Stopped

Do not murmur my son, for it is wisdom in me that I have dealt with you after this manner (D&C 9:6)

This scripture has been in my head for nearly a month nowEvery time I get mad at God, myself, others, my situation—when I beg God to miraculously change things… this scripture immediately comes to mind.

At this point I couldn’t get it out of my head if I tried.

It also relates to my hiatus from blogging and vanishing posts.

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Judgment and Self-Destruction

Editor’s Note: This was originally posted on December 21st, 2016. It was retracted and republished on January 20th, 2017 after I made a few edits.
This post is more specific to my emotional struggles than my finances. It appears here because my financial circumstances are largely driven by my emotional state and my tendency to make the same mistakes over and over again. I think that exploring, dissecting, and understanding my emotional pitfalls will help me avoid repeating the financial missteps that led to this blog.

I wasn’t a fan of Les Misérables when I first saw it. I remember thinking to myself that the movie was entirely too long and the whole “sing every single line” thing was completely unnecessary. That said, over the years, I found myself continuing to discover parallels between myself and the film’s primary antagonist; a tragic legalist by the name of Javert.

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The Daily Choice to Heal

Editor’s Note: This was originally posted on December 18th, 2016. It was retracted and republished on January 20th, 2017 after I made a few edits.
This post is more specific to my emotional struggles than my finances. It appears here because my financial circumstances are largely driven by my emotional state and my tendency to make the same mistakes over and over again. I think that exploring, dissecting, and understanding my emotional pitfalls will help me avoid repeating the financial missteps that led to this blog.

It was my first week at my new job. I had my own office, a title bump, and was making even more money than what I had been offered by Victoria’s Secret. All things considered, I should have been happy. The truth was that I missed my old job and my old team.

I had done my best to forgive and move on, but it wasn’t always easy. The series of events leading up to, and following, my resignation were extremely hurtful on their own, but to make matters worse, my departure from Vivint had created an opening, and in their attempts to fill it, they had contacted people from my professional network, some whom I had trained in the past.

This led to some oftentimes painful discussions with the candidates Vivint was reaching out to, they asked me about the job, the team, the company, whether it was worth it for them to work there. A few phone calls were made. It was heartwrenching for me, like talking to your ex’s new boyfriend and having him ask you how to make her happy, what you loved about her, etc.

I had done my best to take the high road. I strongly recommended Vivint to these people, opting not to discuss the circumstances surrounding my departure. In one case, I wound up convincing someone to apply for the role because I felt they had what it took. I passed my recommendation along to the company and they were hired. It was a bittersweet moment as I congratulated them on their success and told them (truthfully) how jealous I was.

As I sat in my office reflecting on these things, an email hit my inbox. It was from Vivint HR; an exit survey. The first question was “What could we have done to make you want to stay?”

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Blessed are the Merciful

Editor’s Note: This post is more specific to my emotional struggles than my finances. It appears here because my financial circumstances are largely driven by my emotional state and my tendency to make the same mistakes over and over again. I think that exploring, dissecting, and understanding my emotional pitfalls will help me avoid repeating the financial missteps that led to this blog.

This is a post about mercy.

I’ve been struggling to write it for three days.

The spirit constrains me from discussing specifics beyond the fact that a few days ago, I became aware that my blog had been compromised through a combination of social engineering and identity theft by the person I set up password protection to keep out. The deeper I dug, the more damning the evidence became that someone had broken the law in order to take advantage of my vulnerability and hurt me. Eventually I found multiple smoking guns that confirmed my suspicions as to what happened and who was behind it.

As I turned up more and more evidence of wrongdoing, my friends went from skeptical to convinced. Each day of analysis yielded a smoking gun and evidence pointing to criminal behavior and the person behind it. It got to the point where coming up with a rational way to excuse, dismiss, or downplay my findings and conclusions became all but impossible. There were too many breadcrumbs. The perpetrator had made too many mistakes in trying to cover their tracks.

By the end, my roommate and I were both dumbfounded at what we were seeing; it was absolutely insane the lengths this person had gone through to get the password; had they not made so many little mistakes, I doubt I would have caught them.

An increasing number of friends and family told me I should take legal action, at least to protect myself. This was the opinion of the two attorneys I spoke to, as well. I had enough evidence to form a case to get this person in trouble.

Even my brother, who is the one person I’ve talked to that adamantly argued against my taking legal action of any kind in this situation, had given up trying to explain away what I’d uncovered, finally admitting that the situation is “really weird” after the final smoking gun was uncovered two days ago.

I’ll be honest: for a moment, I wondered if God had legally delivered this person into my hands like Laban to Nephi. It was almost like a gift; vindication. Legal recompense for my extreme humiliation and pain. Justification and redemption. A reward for my faith and perseverance.

But I kept getting a very strong prompting.

Leave it alone, Greg.

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4. Wrong Side of Heaven

Editor’s Note: This post is more specific to my emotional struggles than my finances. It appears here because my financial circumstances are largely driven by my emotional state and my tendency to make the same mistakes over and over again. I think that exploring, dissecting, and understanding my emotional pitfalls will help me avoid repeating the financial missteps that led to this blog.

This is a long post. By the end of it, you will understand why my issues have proven notoriously difficult to treat, why I may not have dated you even if I thought you were attractive (along with other weird behaviors), and the long-term consequences of substituting gospel doctrine for professional therapy.

I’m going to do this by showing you how I tried to reconcile my abandonment issues, self-loathing, and the beliefs I picked up from childhood with the gospel of Jesus Christ; weaving them into a twisted tapestry of false doctrine and self-hatred that would guide my dating behavior and lead to incredibly damaging situations for myself, and in some cases, others.

To understand the significance of my doing this, you first need to understand the role the gospel has played in my life thus far.

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