For me, this has been one of the fundamental battles of my life. I’d like nothing more than to be able to live content with what I have. On the other hand, I see the survival benefits that discontentment brings. But who said the business of Survival was pleasurable?
One of my old buddies-of-a-sort asked me once, “Will, why do you always think the minimum is enough? Cause it ain’t.” He’s right; it’s not.
(This is one of those narratives that threads the narrow passage between the sandy bank of constructive self-analysis and the boulder-strewn shores of emo literature and suicide notes. As always, I try to land on the beach and avoid the rocks.)
Take a look at fashion for instance. You need many different styles of clothing for different purposes. The styles need to be current – you have to pick out your own clothing with reference to what other people are wearing. Even the most “unique” and “independent” and (especially) “Goth” or “punk” among the human race often state their distinctiveness by wearing the same kind of clothes that 10,000,000 other punks and Goths are wearing. You can’t win – very few people can pull off a truly distinctive yet effective look, but I wish more people would try. The world’s much too concerned about conformity for my liking, not that Society really cares about my opinion, at least at an individual level.
Anyway, about fashion. I’m watching TLC’s “What Not To Wear,” and I think, “Gee, I should probably be on this show.” The hosts, for instance, just blew me away with their knowledge of how to pick well-fitting clothes with tasteful, flattering designs and patterns. (Wouldn’t it be great to be an expert at something? It’s a piece of my new self-idealization!) And then the hairstylists and make-up people come in and do just as much, or more, to change the subject of the episode from “ow” to “wow.” And I watch this, and I add “money” to my self-idealization, because I need a lot of money to pay for good clothes that fit and proper hairstyling, but I don’t need to worry about make-up because men aren’t required to wear make-up if they don’t want to.
To make money, I need to spend a lot of money on developing the skills I need to get a job that I like, which is the only job I’d want to stay with, otherwise, quite frankly, I’ll be content to stay at home and play video games all the time and only come out once a week to take my stepfather for groceries*, and then I’d have real problems.
* - It’s quite likely that I’d continue to hike around the wood paths and lake trails of my area, as I’d run into so few people that I don’t have to care about my clothes or hair.
So now I am lucky, because I can work at a job that I sort of like and pays me almost enough, and I can put everything away because I do stay at home most of the time, coming out to take my stepfather for groceries on Friday nights (I’d also play video games, but I don’t have time, because when I start playing an RPG or something, I can disappear for days) and I drive my mother’s car at 55 mph (90 km/h) and I bring a brown-bag lunch to work and I have enough clothes handed-down or from birthdays or Christmases past that I don’t have to buy new ones now, which is good because I’d probably buy all the wrong clothes anyway. (“Ooh!” my eyes will say to my brain. “Check out this great looking t-shirt!” and I’d strut out of the department store like I just bought a hand-tailored suit.) I will buy a new suit when I get a job that I like, and I will also buy a place to live and a small car.
I am really trying my best to be honest now. It’s quite cathartic, and I feel like I’ve cut down on a lot of the clutter in my brain by writing this stuff down. All this (well, aside from the heart side of things, which I won’t get into) is what’s in my head now. Therefore, it is also me, right now.
I’m not an expert in anything, which isn’t a real problem for me, but it can be a problem for others because most people expect other people to have serious, life-consuming passions that they can talk about backwards and forwards (and Star Wars doesn’t count). A lot of the girls I see on personals and dating websites state that they want guys who know exactly where they’re going. I only have a vague idea, and I have no socially acceptable life-consuming passions (sleeping until noon and spending three hours watching sports highlights or the weather channel doesn’t count).
The way I see it, I have two options. Either I can bundle up the micro-passions I do have (say, photography and/or writing) and present them on a very low-key basis, but while that can help me be a good conversationalist by having the tools to ask the right questions, it won’t help me swim when I encounter someone with a digital SLR and $3,000 worth of lenses and filters, and all I have is a zoomless old beater and an enthusiasm for long walks taken while swinging a torn camera bag from my shoulders. I’m content to stick with the old beater until I get a nice job, because I know it backwards and forwards. I’ve had a lot of good times with it, and I can’t justify the expense of a better one anyway when I need $5,000 just to go to school this year.
Anyway, what bugs me is not that I don’t have the stuff, but that I have to spend thousands buying my way into something in order to be taken seriously. Actually, that sounds fair – the part that really makes me pause to ponder is that a lot of girls would require me to be seriously into at least something in order to be worthy of consideration in matters of the heart.
It’s all kind of pointless in the end, because in spite of my difficulties in interfacing correctly with society, some girls have thought I was cool, and it had nothing to do with photography or writing. It doesn’t matter if the number is still in single or low-double digits. But it means I have at least something to offer, and that’s a very nice feeling to have, although in saying this I hope you don’t think I’m being overly conceited.
I have to go to work tomorrow morning.
Bye for now,