If you thought my stomach hair-related angst was overly personal...you ain't seen nothing yet. A continuation of this post. Which is, frighteningly, from July 2008.
[Video: "Musikbyrån Makes Me Wanna Smoke Crack" by Pelle Carlberg]
You know those problems that just won't die? Maybe they're a life strategy or mental framework that just isn't helping you anymore. You've identified the issue long ago. It makes you feel bad, and you want to change. But you don't know how to change. And in a world that enables your pain, you don't know any other way to feel.
Well, I still have the same issue that I did in 2008. I feel like there's a hole in my life where a career should be. I keep telling myself, "I can be happy with or without a career", but after my career as "a student" ended, I was never quite the same person again. Sure, I had some jobs, but they didn't give me that sense of purpose that I craved. After college graduation, my mental health and functioning were completely shot to hell in a matter of weeks. Only years later did I read about the extreme emotional turmoil that can afflict autistic spectrum folks who are unprepared for these transitions (although I'm sure there are neurotypicals who've been through the same thing). I felt like after college, I died. That the "real me"--the optimistic, motivated person I used to be-- was frozen in a vault somewhere, waiting for a time when society could make some better use of people like myself.
It weirds me out that there is an amalgam to my experience--the person who feels empty without a mate--and yet the advice geared at these people barely goes a millimeter into what could be a very deep wound. They're told, "don't give up hope, you'll find someone", which leaves them even more bereft if they never do. In American culture, we're supposed to beat ourselves up for "falling behind". As adults, we're supposed to be the dictatorial parent, spanking our own damn selves for failing to "measure up". It's normal to look at Facebook (oh, the humanity) and see all the people getting married, having kids, buying houses, attaining prestigious careers...and to think that without these things, we are inferior, even if beyond the goalposts are things that some of us never wanted in the first place.
Although I am a radical, and have little good to say about most aspects of our mainstream American culture, it has just as much a hold on me as anyone else. Maybe the pressures even affect me all the more, because damaging cultural tropes were able to jump in and fill the hole that "student" left in my identity. The hole was quickly filled with a lot of self-hatred that it has, and will, take me years to overcome.
Self-love (and no, I don't mean it that way) is relatively easy when everything is going well and according to plan. But it's most needed when it's the hardest to conjure up: When the obstacles seem endless and the rewards few. When "he", whatever he is, is nowhere in sight, and might never be showing up at all. The answer is not to bemoan the fact that people have become doctors and lawyers in the same time that I've been doing "nothing", i.e, a bunch of sometimes-important things that our culture couldn't care less about. The answer must surely be to fill that emptiness with love (hi, ms. hooks)--the self-generated kind, since the space is too large for anyone else to fill for me.
It might be telling that I've written much more about romantic love--something I have never experienced--than self-love, which is something I desperately needed to cultivate, like yesterday, in order to have any chance at a happy life. As a culture, we know what romantic love looks like, and I would venture to say that we don't know what self-love looks like. If I can find that out, it may not be a husband, a career, or a house, but it would be something of great value. Whether people care about it on Facebook, or not.
Now, let's be soothed by the dulcet tones of Scandinavian indiepop.