Well, I suppose the sky didn’t fall on my head yesterday after all (insert your own Asterix joke here), but it’s bulging worryingly. Unfortunately, I can’t really speak openly about it, for various reasons. I hope things will turn out OK, and it’s by no means certain that things will go wrong (and in one area at least they are likely to be at least OKish), but it’s all very worrying.
I worry I will never have a reasonable job (where reasonable equals a living wage and enough intellectual stimulation, but not massively outside my comfort zone in terms of ability, self-confidence and social interaction and an environment that is reasonably depression/social anxiety/autism-friendly). Partly because of this, I worry I will never get married and have kids. I’m thirty-five next month. It feels like everyone else has sorted this stuff out by now, or at least everyone else in my peer group (young professionals, usually intelligent high achievers, often ex-Oxford or Cambridge). It isn’t quite true that everyone has this sorted out, but most of them seem to have done so, although there may be some confirmation bias or discounting contrary evidence.
My main ambition in life used to be that I wanted to be a tzaddik (saintly person). I did eventually realise that I simply don’t have the right personality or background for that. I’m basically too messed up, religiously and psychologically. Now I just want to be a good man and a good Jew, somewhat happy with someone to love and to love me. Even that seems far beyond my reach, though.
I feel like HaShem (God) has decided that I should never be happy. I think I could even accept that; what is hard to accept is feeling taunted when happiness is placed before me and snatched away as I begin to accept it. Am I being punished? Am I supposed to grow from this torture? Is my suffering helping someone, somehow? (I hope so, but I can’t see how.)
I guess the frummie (religious) answer to unmarried or otherwise miserable people in their twenties is that one should stick with things and HaShem will make it all work in the end. By the time you get to middle age this doesn’t work so well, so sadly many people just victim-blame the person suffering and say it’s their fault rather than confront the theological problem of suffering. I’m somewhere in between my twenties and middle age, so I suppose I don’t have to accept either of these answers.
The even more general frummie answer to every problem, beyond “HaShem will make it work out in the end”, or really just taking it into further detail, is that I suffer here for reward in the world to come (afterlife), but it’s hard to accept that when (a) I don’t feel that I’m doing enough to have a share in the world to come, especially given my rabbi’s recent shuirim (classes) related to this topic and (b) it’s hard to accept that I’m suffering now to get a reward in the future when I need something concrete in the here and now to keep me going so I don’t go completely off the derekh (stop being religious) and lose my share in the world to come completely out of utter misery and despair. What am I supposed to do to keep going?