6 min read

Hey Jeff: Edition 1

Hey Jeff: Edition 1

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This is the first edition of what will become a weekly feature. 'Hey Jeff' is GEHB's version of 'Dear Abby.' Send in your emails with questions about anything - life, sports, fun, something difficult, whatever - and we'll address them in 'Hey Jeff.' Talking helps in just about everything. If 'Hey Jeff' is a talking outlet you are comfortable with, please use it. But know, I'm in no way qualified to give life advice, but I'm happy to talk through things in a written form.

"Hey Jeff,

I think it's pretty cool you're starting this. I've always enjoyed what you write. I also really appreciate you talking about your struggles.

I don't know what kind of advice I'm looking for. I might just be coming to vent. IDK.

I'm a 31-year-old father of 1 with another on the way. I'm currently a stay-at-home dad/part-time worker. My wife is the primary breadwinner. I feel really bad that she isn't able to stay home and be a Mom like she wants to be. She does like to work, and she's good at her job, but I know deep down that she'd like to be a stay-at-home Mom.

The problem is I have no idea what I'm good at. And I've been unable to really find a career that will provide for our family. It makes me feel like a real loser. I don't feel like I bring much value to my family. I want to find a career. I want to provide for my family, but I have no idea how to find out what I'm good at.

I'm sick of being so stressed about money. I'm not good at sticking to a budget. I spend more than I should. Luckily we don't have much debt outside of student loans and maybe 5k on a credit card that we're slowly paying off. I try not to compare myself to others. But I'm envious of those who have figured out their careers and are able to enjoy life without the constant stress of debt hanging over their heads. I'm happy for them because I know most have worked hard to get there. I'm not a "eat the rich" kind of guy. But I am jealous.

Sometimes it seems like the best plan would be to get a life insurance policy, wait the amount of time you have to wait where they still have to pay out for suicide, and then just commit. I know how stupid that is. My wife and kids would rather have their dad, but sometimes it just doesn't seem that way. You don't have to worry though, I really don't think I'd ever actually do that.

Anyways, thanks for letting me vent. You're a good dude.

Go Cougs!"

Hey man,

First and foremost, you're so loved. Your wife, those kids, they love you. I love you, and I mean that sincerely. No matter situation you are in, you're loved. I hope you believe that, because it's 100% the truth.

Secondly, and I can't stress this enough, if you ever have thoughts about life insurance and that your family would be better off without you, please know that is your brain lying to you. It's categorically false. It's as false and as wrong as anything I've ever heard. They aren't just better off with you, they need you. If those thoughts crop back up, talk to someone - anyone - and let's get you the help you need. I'm always a DM (or DM me and get my phone number) away. Call the suicide hotline at 988. Call a parent, or a sibling, or your wife. Call someone.

As for the feelings of inadequacy and stress, I think that's pretty normal. Your specific circumstance might be unique, but your headspace is somewhere that I think most men can relate to.

It's really hard.

I'm 34-years old. I have a successful career (though, not a dream job by anyone's definition) and have started multiple little side gigs that produce relatively consistent revenue streams. When I filed my taxes, I had done better in 2022 than I ever thought that I would do in my life.

And yet, I take antidepressants every day, always have an emergency stash of Xanax handy in the event of another panic attack creeping up, and am currently dealing with a bout of Guttate Psoriasis that flares up when I am overly stressed.

Stressing about money is one of the most difficult things in the world. I remember the few weeks before my wife had our first baby. I made $15.71/hour as a low-level supervisor in banking. My wife had just quit her job - where she made $12.50/hour - and she was committed to staying home. No matter what kind of math I did or how I arranged a budget, I always came up a few hundred dollars short. It was the most stressful feeling that I had felt in my life up to that point.

I thought the next promotion or the next commission check would be the answer to my problems.

Promotions came and commission checks grew, and then I had to get medicated.

Over time, I grew to realize that I needed to change my outlook. Life was going to be hard no matter how much I did or didn't make. The stress over taking care of my family was going to be there whether I was a millionaire or homeless. I needed to find a way to see the sunlight through the clouds - because with every passing month and year, the fog was growing thicker and more difficult to see through.

I remembered a time when I was with my grandparents at their farm. It was September and in the middle of the corn harvest. My grandpa drove the tractor, my grandma drove the dump truck, my uncle drove the tractor to push the freshly chopped silage up the the corn pit in a way that it could be stored for the next year. It was a time consuming process, and weather was always a factor. If a hard freeze were to come in, a year's worth of corn would be ruined.

So, my dad and I drove up to the farm to help out. My dad and his brother helped milk cows and feed calves while the real farmers could do the corn. I was small enough that I rode in the dump truck with grandma and kept her company.

It was later in the harvest, late September when you really start to get nervous about the weather, and my grandma and I had just dropped off a truck load of corn and were headed back out to grandpa to pick up the next round.

When we got to the field, the tractor was stopped and grandpa was standing in the field, hopelessly looking up at the corn chopper.

I don't remember what was broken, but something was broken, and it was clearly going to jeopardize the rest of the harvest. Grandpa and grandma never swore, but they got as close as I ever heard them when they were discussing the problem. But, then something happened that I've never forgotten.

One of them made a joke. The other one laughed. Then they laughed together. Then grandpa picked me up in his arms, climbed back into the truck with us, and took me back to the house with him. That night, we played Parcheesi and had a great time at the farm.

They had no money. They were about to lose a corn crop that would impact their paychecks for the next year. But they still found a way to be happy with me and my dad that night. It was fun.

So, when I was looking through the thick fog, realizing I needed to try and be happier, I started doing some things to try and force positive or happy thoughts to the front of my mind.

I started each day with an email to someone random - an old friend, a distant aunt, a cousin, someone - and sent them a few paragraphs telling them why I was thankful for them in my life.

The emails weren't very profound, but it forced my brain to find someone positive to think about, and it forced me to communicate that positivity outwardly. And over time, I started realizing that I was noticing happiness all around me. Life was still hard and my circumstance hadn't changed at all, but I saw more happiness.

To this day, I still send one or two of those emails a month to try and force myself to focus on positivity.

I'm still on antidepressants.

I still have the Xanax stash.

The psoriasis still flares up.

The panic attacks still scare me (have even hospitalized me a couple of times, mostly out of fear).

But the fog isn't as thick as it was before, so the sunlight of happiness pierces through a lot more quickly.

I love you, brother. So does your family. And so do so many other people. Stay with us, and let's cut through the fog together.



If you would like to submit a 'Hey Jeff' request, email [email protected], DM @rakoto10 on Twitter, or find me on Discord!