Well well well well well. I think the little breakthrough I had the other day whilst writing has really had a powerful impact on my state of mind, in that I was coming to the realization that pretty much everything I was doing in my life was geared towards survival and not much else and that’s a depressing way to live. Also too, I had the epiphany that I’ve been living under this oppressive delusion my whole life, one that was so all-encompassing, I was barely aware of it.
I think we all (or at least we here in ‘Murrika) grow up with the message of “You’re so special and one day you’re going to be a rock star or a doctor or the president” shoved down our throats- a little overacheiving propaganda that I guess is supposed to keep us from being complacent and not trying. Because hey, if we all try really hard to be the best we can be at becoming some kind of rich famous being, maybe we’ll at least become a bang-up manager at a supermarket, right? Except the whole campaign seems ill-advised at best, because it also serves this needlessly egotistical way of thinking that if we don’t grow up to do something spectacular to save the world, or at least get famous in some way, then our lives are wasted and the masses will be disappointed. Worse than that is how stressful that way of thinking gets- like everyone’s just waiting on us to peak at the top, they’re standing there tapping their feet impatiently, and there’s a limited amount of time left to “do something valuable” with our lives, so what are we waiting on? Hell, I’m 23 and I haven’t even published a book yet and most people who are important get that kind of shit rolling before they even get out of their teens! Tick tock, tick tock-
Except here’s the thing. Nobody’s keeping tabs on me. Few people are even that aware of my existence. The ones who are probably aren’t expecting that much out of me, just that I keep on being awesome and stay out of jail. Nobody’s really waiting on me to have any kind of breakthrough to fame and fortune and nobody’s going to be disappointed if I don’t publish that novel I’ve been thinking about. Hell, most of them probably couldn’t be bothered to read it anyway.
I don’t know why this way of thinking never occurred to me before- it seems stupidly simple now that I’ve got it- but it’s like a thousand pounds of pressure off my back just to have the thought, “wait- what if nobody gave a shit?”
I’m essentially supporting myself now, I have a way of making money, and sure, maybe I’m not doing anything superimportant, but I’m no burden on society, either. If my existence doesn’t have any negative impact, the world is definitely not going to come to an end if it doesn’t have some massive positive impact, either. I’m not sure who I thought I was trying to impress all these years, but it’s always been this thing of mine that I had to be the best at everything I tried, and now I’m realizing it’s all really not that big a deal. Now that I’m truly an independent, free agent, I should do things because I want to do them, not because I think they’ll make me important. And that was a lot of what was getting in the way of working on my art and doing things that I actually enjoy.
I felt like, whenever I was putting my pencil to the paper, there was this huge burden of only working on things that would eventually further my artistic skill towards something that would make money, some kind of project I could publish, something marketable and entertaining, something that would eventually amount to something. So much joy was getting sucked out of the work that I choked up every time I went to draw because none of it was good enough and it all just felt like a waste of time. That supposedly “productive” delusion of working towards fame and fortune was so strangling that it paradoxically killed all my motivation to work.
Now I’ve realized, hey, maybe I can just draw because it’s fun, now that I have a way of supporting myself. Maybe I can take art classes because I enjoy them, in my free time, and because I’ll be able to afford them, and maybe one day I’ll be good enough to sell some work, but there’s no time limit on this, you know? I have a job not only that I can use to support myself through all this but actually colludes with the lifestyle of an artist- manning a front desk late hours into the night where we’re expected to do nothing to keep ourselves awake for hours except maybe reading or doodling. Well, I’ve got a sketch book now and you can bet your ass I’ll be getting in plenty of practice time on the job.
The philosophy of “Wait, what if nobody gave a shit?” applies to other areas too, like:
- “Oh god, I just tripped and made an idiot out of myself on the bus in front of all these people! …Wait, what if nobody gave a shit?” or,
- “Wow, I’m looking really fat, I wish I were all skinny and buff and sexy. …Wait, what if nobody gave a shit?” or,
- “Hmmm, sushi for breakfast is kind of a weird choice. …Wait, what if nobody gave a shit?”
I’m truly entering a phase in my life where I’m doing things just because they make me happy, no other reason. It really feels good to finally have control over my life- being somebody “unimportant” seems a little scary to me at first but it’s also ridiculously liberating. If I plan on doing something important, it’s because it’ll make me happy to do it, not because I feel obligated. And I’m sure I will eventually do those thing, because I do enjoy giving back, but for the time being, I’m just going to stretch outward and feel what life has to offer me without feeling pulled in directions that nobody’s actually requiring me to go.
I’m not saying that people need to give less of a shit- a lot of people really should probably give more of a shit, but about things outside of themselves. What I’m trying to do here is to let go of the needless egotism, the inexorable need to be important, the delusion that everyone cares about every move I make, and discover what fun really is again. I believe our god given right is to enjoy and observe life to the fullest.
Like one of my friends said, “I think my parents will be super proud of me if one day I can just pull rent on my own.” They’re the only people who give half a shit and their lives won’t come crumbling down if we don’t become president- they don’t ask for THAT much, just that we don’t wind up fucking our lives over. Oh- and I’m pretty sure they also wanted us to be happy.