Talking Isn’t Enough

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on this blog.

If left to my own devices, especially when I’m feeling sad, I stay inside a lot. This habit is not without its bright sides. I watch a lot of movies, I don’t eat fast food, I protect my skin from the sun, and I perfect my music video persona (this is when I play songs I like and pretend I am performing in a music video for that song while in front of a mirror.) But ultimately, the longer I stay in, the more I begin to believe that I can only face the public again once I’ve experienced some sort of transformation.

I’ve learned through therapy that this behavior is, at heart, the result of my deep-seeded fear of being a disappointment (note: even as a write this, typing out that I go to therapy makes my hackles go up. I don’t want people to think I’m seeking pity or, worse, bragging). The face of what I think the solution might be habitually changes. Sometimes, it’s once I’ve achieved a specific body composition, other times, it’s once I’ve curated a new wardrobe, or even once I’ve written a number of op-eds that I will, without a doubt, look back at months later and delete.

Frustratingly, at least in my experience, change doesn’t happens inside a vacuum, and in movies, books, and real life, people who try to achieve some kind of metamorphosis through isolation usually end up…not so good. Howard Hughes ended up wearing tissue boxes for shoes and generally feared being “contaminated from the outside,” Robert DeNiro’s character in Taxi Driver convinced himself that assassinating someone would rid the world of corruption, Norma Desmond became totally oblivious of her crazy-eyes.

Not only does isolation decrease your ability to appreciate things, good or bad, it also, I’ve found, narrows your mental wiggle room to the point that you can confirm whatever bias you have. If you have no one else to bounce your ideas off of, anything you think just becomes true by nature of no one arguing against it (this also happens when you surround yourself with glorified yes-men instead of actual friends, but I digress.)

The longer you stay by yourself, the more likely you are to think it makes a whole lot of sense to wear tissue boxes for shoes, take your date to a porn cinema, or twirl your hands around while you walk.

I’m not saying I wanted to kill myself during these introverted interludes, but I did, on occasion, kind of wish I’d get hit by a car or get shot in the back of the head. Why? Maybe because I felt like I wasn’t going anywhere. And I genuinely wasn’t. I could go on and on psycho-analyzing myself, but what I want to get at is that I don’t feel that way any more, and a big contributing factor to that has undoubtedly been in the people I have been fortunate enough to meet. I won’t name names in the interest of not coming off as a snob, but their unifying characteristic, all of them, is that they are people of action.

It has always been frustrating to me when, while I am having a meltdown about how I feel like I am not doing enough, not working hard enough, not making enough progress, someone tells me that I am “only _____.” I.e. only a college student, only twenty-two, etc. I think I know what they’re trying to say, and that they’re trying to make me relax, but I wonder if it’s possible that they think my complaint is that I am not wildly successful. But that’s not what I mean. I’m not patient, but I also know that I have not done enough to merit some sort of iconic status. What I worry about is that I am not working hard enough. I am worried that I will use the fact that I am a student, or only twenty-two, as an excuse not to do more, and that is why I am almost always made more upset when people try to comfort me.

To come to the title of this post, I want to articulate why I really don’t like to hear people talk, and especially complain, about things they want to do. This is not something that is unique to people my age, but people my age are certainly not excluded, and, a lot of the time, are considered champions of this behavior. I’m just going to address an imaginary conglomerate being of everyone I think of who acts this way, and address them now:

There is no golden apparition, person, or place, who is going to pluck you out of obscurity for no other reason than the twinkle in your eye or whatever, and give you all the means necessary to finally “let you shine.” That scenario isn’t real. It never has been. There is no guy with a big cigar who is waiting to point at you and yell, “KID, YOU’RE GONNA BE A STAR.” And you’re not misunderstood, and you’re not too good. People are complicated, but you are not some sort of extraterrestrial. Really smart people know that putting all your mental energy into how different or worse other people are, is just a defense against the possibility that they might be better than you. Really talented people know that work that eventually brings results is not “beneath them,” but largely just very, very hard. Everyone wants to be great, but you don’t get there by being pissed off that it isn’t happening for you yet. As Ronnie Coleman says, “everybody want to be a bodybuilder, but don’t nobody want to lift no heavy-ass weights.” And you can make the point that some people have connections and some people don’t have to struggle as much as you, but what good does that do for you except give you an excuse to give up?

Recently, I have been working on several goals of mine pretty intensely, and it has kept me very busy (which is why I haven’t posted on here in so long.) I have an increasing suspicion that I would not have gone after the opportunities that have come my way with as much persistence if it weren’t for the fact that I am now routinely surrounded by people who have no problem with, and in fact, enjoy the process of, working. There’s some saying that you are the top 5 people you spend the most time with, and I don’t think it’s an absolute, but I do think it really makes a difference. If you’re not obsessed with something enough to put the possibility of not being perfect right away above your ego, you don’t really want to succeed badly enough.





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