The Jaded Millennial

Histrionics

I’m known to be a person with a certain flair for the dramatic. I try to deny it as much as I can and shrug it off as just blatant exaggeration for increased comic effect, but when you sit an entire afternoon discussing with your friends how the way you’re coming out to your parents is by inviting them to your wedding to another guy and yell “surprise!”, something is rather off. I actually took it so far that I started thinking whether E! or Bravo would finance it and make a wedding special on the struggles of a foreign gay youth being rejected on his wedding day by his Eastern European parents. Americans would eat that shit up.

This began during my adolescent years, I would say. I used to long for drama, for a feeling of excitement in my life. I was a very lonely teenager, but that was of my own fault. Once I made serious inquiries into my own sexuality and came to terms with being gay, I was suddenly different from the rest, I was more interesting, in my eyes. I assumed no one would really understand or accept me, so I began to detach myself emotionally from family and made very few friends. But I assumed wrong, because it wasn’t necessarily the case, I just very rarely allowed people the possibility. For instance, I had a crush on a classmate in high school, and I told him about me. He reacted very badly, as you’d expect, but he came around. He put his preconceived notions aside and genuinely tried to be my friend, just because I trusted him enough to tell him this. I didn’t want him to understand me, though, I wanted him to kiss me. I didn’t want anyone to understand me, to accept me, because that wouldn’t have worked with my martyr complex, so I pushed people away. I had friends in high school, of course, but I didn’t have any real connection with them, expect maybe with one or two. But then college came around, and I was a different person by then. I was adamant that I wouldn’t let being gay define me and now it doesn’t. I left those things behind. However, I’m no less dramatic. I channel it differently, perhaps.

I’m known to be a stressed out person. Actually, I’m something resembling a giant ball of stress. It is an unmistakable trait of mine, that I am very tense, that I stress out about much of what is going on in my life. These days, I think that is how the dramatic aspect of my personality comes out in full force. A certain part of me thinks it is because the stakes are simply not that high. For instance, there’s that examination period in university during which I am wreck. I am so stressed out all the time, I overdo it with the amount of coffee and cola I consume, and, in the end, the results are quite impressive. But to what cost? And what exactly would happen if I don’t stress? I would probably still get good grades, so the stakes wouldn’t be there if my body weren’t also destroyed in the process. This strange notion that “things are good” is very foreign to me. I seem to live in a general state of dissatisfaction, especially with myself, which simply undercuts my chances of actually living my life, and not merely observing on the sidelines. So I allow myself to be dramatic sometimes, since it reveals to myself that I can still get excited about life.

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A connection

A person’s sexual choice is the result and sum of their fundamental convictions. Tell me what a person finds sexually attractive and I will tell you their entire philosophy of life. Show me the person they sleep with and I will tell you their valuation of themselves. No matter what corruption they’re taught about the virtue of selflessness, sex is the most profoundly selfish of all acts, an act which they cannot perform for any motive but their own enjoyment – just try to think of performing it in a spirit of selfless charity! – an act which is not possible in self-abasement, only in self-exultation, only on the confidence of being desired and being worthy of desire. It is an act that forces them to stand naked in spirit, as well as in body, and accept their real ego as their standard of value. They will always be attracted to the person who reflects their deepest vision of themselves, the person whose surrender permits them to experience – or to fake – a sense of self-esteem. ― Ayn Rand, “Atlas Shrugged”

Ayn Rand’s quote from her most famous novel resonated with me in a considerable way, as did many things in the other brilliant novel of hers, “The Fountainhead”. But I didn’t expect it to correspond so closely and with such an intensity to my own experiences.  Needless to say, I met someone new. Yet this individual, from our very first encounter, made my life instantly much more interesting and I only met him a week ago. I’m still trying to establish whether this was a good or a bad thing. Not that I expect the world to be within these parameters of morality, but knowing me, the world of drugs, alcohol and partying that the people around me were attempting to initiate me in could have done some serious damage. The aforementioned phrase, knowing me, implies that, since I am a highly impressionable and sensitive individual, I could have easily fallen prey to these circumstances surrounding me. But this was a world I hated, of drugs and partying, so I didn’t partake in any of it. I sidelined myself, observing this new environment, observing him mostly. In the span of three days I’ve seen him drunk, high and sober, and he fascinated me. The many facets of his personality were made clearer the more I spoke with him. The carefree, happy-go-lucky persona that he conveyed during his period of intoxication soon revealed a kind, loving but troubled soul, dealing with issues that may be far beyond his twenty years of age. I believe he seldom manages to make sense of what is going on in his mind. That Robbie Williams’ “Feel” is the song that characterizes him the most is highly revelatory in this regard, especially with the “my head speaks a language I don’t understand”. I couldn’t pretend to know what it was that inflicted such overwhelming emotional distress in him at times. That he was introduced to the world of alcohol and drugs at a very young age, that he was influenced by certain older and more experienced individuals around him, may be either the causes of his pain or the consequences of a preexisting problem.

I was very attracted to him. At the same time, and maybe because of it, I felt a relentless need to help him. Because I found what he was dealing with strangely similar to my own issues, of depression, loneliness, identity, an incessant and almost primal need for affection that is anything but carnal. Perhaps I am over-emphasizing some similarities to make myself accept comfort from him, but nonetheless,  I truly believe I could have become like him were the circumstances of my childhood and young adulthood akin to his. A matter of nature versus nurture, after all. Comparing the two of us, it is clear we took different paths and have contrasting manners in which we deal with our problems. But he reflected my deepest vision of myself, and I didn’t need to have sex with him to realize that. I felt a strong desire to help him so that, in the process, I could help myself as well.

However, he left. To travel around Europe, he said, something he had done numerous times in the past. A sort of escapism, perhaps, though not necessarily the tendency to escape the physical reality and its surroundings, but mostly the one pertaining to his mind. It saddened me to see such a scattered and messy person actively rejecting stability. I may very well be in the wrong here, though, for in all of this, he still manages to find moments of happiness and joy, and I know he’ll have many of those this summer. I don’t think I could say the same thing about me.

Longing

“Are you one of those people who says on a first date, ‘I’m really not in a hurry to meet somebody, I figure if it happens, it happens’? Because those are the most desperate people of all. I’m just saying this so that if you are this person, you aren’t hiding it from anybody.
There is no shame in being hungry for another person. There is no shame in wanting very much to share your life with somebody.”  – Augusten Burroughs

No, you are definitely not hiding it from anyone. They say clinginess is a very unattractive feature  in a person. If that is the case, I may just be the ugliest mutt you ever laid eyes on. It is certainly not a voluntary decision. Ever since I was a teenager, I would go through all of these relationships, few as they may have been, out of mere neediness for another human being. Hardly a revolutionary fact that loneliness is difficult to endure. In this premature and persistent search for a relationship, I denied myself the idea of going through a promiscuous phase out of sheer pride and dignity. Was it too much to need the comfort of a relationship for my very first sexual relations to occur? An ex-boyfriend from a few years ago, who I was severely infatuated with, was reluctant in going forward with the aforementioned sexual relations because he believed it would have triggered a promiscuous phase in me. As if once I popped my cherry, I would suddenly feel the need to screw every other guy from here to Hanoi. Little did he know, that little foray into fornication would have had less to do with pleasure and more to do with an ill-fated necessity to cement the relationship.

But maybe I should have used the past tense. While my particular brand of clinginess carried itself right into my very first serious relationship, which lasted for a little over a year and a half, I believe it may be a matter of the past. When this need of clinging on to him so tightly faded, so did the love, albeit a reductive statement, that I was able to offer at the time. To give you an idea of just how awful of a human being I was in the first few months, I would like to say that I question my own loving behavior in that time. That particular cloying behavior was excessively affectionate, so that whenever he wouldn’t reciprocate with the same amount of treacle and sentimentality, I would have something over him. I’m finding it hard to vindicate myself for it, and for how the relationship ended, but the only comfort I can give myself in regards to this is that it wasn’t intentional. And also, that I’ve changed. I am still very much hungry, as Augusten says, for another person. However, I’ve come to understand that it is not in my control. Love is not in my control. I should give myself over to circumstances, the ones regarding other people. As Viktor E. Frankl said, “Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.” I believe the same about love. Most of the times the circumstances won’t work in my favor. Sometimes they will devastate me. One should try, though, on the off chance that they do.

Pedestrian

“I never know how much of what I say is true.” – Bette Midler

You would think there were more troublesome fears in my immediate thought than the seemingly trivial fright of turning out to be merely pedestrian. However, not even the fear of death can linger on in my mind the way this does. I’ve dreaded for a long time the idea of being simple, ordinary. For all I know, I’ve subconsciously made myself gay at the age of fifteen so I won’t turn out ordinary. Although I’m pretty sure my sexual desires were already developed by the time this early-onset psychological hipsterism had set in. While my sheer fascination with Todd from Suvivor China hastened the process of accepting I was gay, I do believe it might have triggered the inherent need to surpass my own state of existence. Not mere ambition, but actually striving for dreams that for someone in my position (low-income family in Buttfuck, Romania) would end up being quite impossible to achieve. Why in the world would I ever believe someone like me can become a forensic anthropologist? This might just be a subconscious attempt to set myself up for failure so that I can remain in the comfortable realms of my depression.

Which brings me to another issue from which all this could’ve very possibly stemmed from, and that is overthinking. Hyperbolic self-awareness, after all, is the title of this blog. My brain often fires in a dozen directions at once. If I don’t ponder on the many emotional issues that usually result from a low self-esteem and therefore sit in melancholy hating myself, I have a tendency to believe I become simple. Because I look at myself and I think I’m pretty damn average. I have average looks, average body and even an average intelligence (as a disclaimer, I’m only of average smarts in the portion of the population that actually thinks). Even as I write this in a language that is not my own native tongue, I feel what I express is of a quite average quality because there are the actual natives that can do it better. The thing that in my mind makes me the least bit average at this moment in my life is what you’ve just read. The excessively overdone dramatization of my complicated thought process. While clearly I have not made myself gay, there’s a part of me that believes I have turned myself into a complicated, weird mess so that I have something to like in myself. Because in the end, as fucked up as it may be, I do like that about myself, that is, the fact that my mind isn’t simple. However, to say I made myself complicated and weird to not be average could very well be a consequence of actually being complicated and overthinking it. I’m not aware of the degree of philosophy Bette Midler intended with her quotation, but I do feel that most of the times I don’t know how much of what I say is real or true to myself.

Adrift

“That’s the sin that can’t be forgiven–that I hadn’t done what I wanted. It feels so dirty and pointless and monstrous, as one feels about insanity, because there’s no sense to it, no dignity, nothing but pain–and wasted pain…why do they always teach us that it’s easy and evil to do what we want and that we need discipline to restrain ourselves? It’s the hardest thing in the world–to do what we want. And it takes the greatest kind of courage.” – Ayn Rand

Truth is, most of the time I don’t know what I want. If you were to ask me who I would envision myself to be in five years, I honestly would be at a loss for words. I suppose you could say it is the fear of failure. I remember that, as I was growing up, especially towards the final years of high-school, I was considering different career paths every two weeks. Because as hard as it may have been to do what I wanted, that is, psychiatry, forensic anthropology, filmmaking, the fear of failure would undercut it. But to say that would really be a cop-out. As I stand here, visualizing where I’ve ended up, majoring in foreign languages, I can’t really say I hate it. Even more so, I’m actually one of the best in my university. That particular fear didn’t undercut my chances at succeeding. So I go back to that question. Five years from now, what do I want to be? To demand an answer is as foolish as me stating I have a purpose in this world.  What keeps me going though? I sure don’t know what I want from life. However, I’m intrigued enough to just want it.