In truth I hadn’t expected this whole “Looks at 30” thing to happen as sporadically and at random as it seems to be. I’ve gotten used to the random bouts of nostalgia, and I even occasionally make it through one without a somewhat awkward conversation with someone from my past. What, I said occasionally.
And while yes, I have totally had a few relatively awkward conversations with people from my high school days (hooray for social media I guess,) I have also had what, for me, are some of the most awkward conversations to date, with some people that I’ve been friends with for a very long time.
No less than twice in the last week have I heard the phrase “you have no idea how much you shaped my life and helped make me who I am today” or something similar.
You have no idea how difficult it is for my humble and modest sensibilities to process that kind of statement. I spend a great deal of effort in an attempt to keep myself humble and gracious, because I know what awaits me on the other side of ego. As such it’s kind of difficult for me to really engage that kind of statement mentally with much more than a grin and a shrug.
Like that wasn’t really my plan the whole time. Which is both true and untrue, simultaneously. It is true that I try to be a role model, that I try to live in such a way that others may see my example and choose to follow. I detest the notion that things that are wrong are tolerable simply because “that’s the way things are.” I hate watching the way people treat each other, treat themselves, even in their minds and hearts and without any tangible effect on the outside world, the general level of selfish and egocentric behaviors and thoughts that I encounter on a day-to-day basis.
That said, I’m not used to people actually paying attention, and I’m damn sure not used to people informing me that I had some central part in their transition from adolescence to adulthood, and the very idea that I might be some kind of philosophical or metaphysical cornerstone to the foundation of someone’s life is fucking scary.
Let me be perfectly honest: I have no idea what the fuck is going on. I’m just another motherfucker trying to figure this shit out, same as y’all. That said, I’ve spent my whole life doling out advice to people who would come to me for it (for whatever the fuck reason) and so maybe I’ve got a better handle on things than I think I do. But just like computers, other peoples’ problems are infinitely easier to deal with and fix than my own. This is true of anyone trying to give advice, I understand, but we’re not talking about anyone else, we’re talking about me here.
I’m choosing to avoid the arduous examples of this kind of shit, but I will say that throughout high school, while I was depressingly, woefully single, I was running mediation and more or less holding together two separate relationships for other people until finally one day I just couldn’t do it anymore; taking on the stress of two relationships without getting any of the benefits, spending all day every day after school talking one couple and then the other through whatever bullshit problem they had that day, while I spent my time more or less lonely as fucking shit. The relationships both ended shortly after my involvement did.
Which brings me more-or-less the central issue that faces me in this particular regard: recognizing that this kind of shit is not ACTUALLY my responsibility. I can be there for people, provide what help I can, but it is unhealthy and unwise to invest that much time and energy into something with such a non-existent personal payout. It’s not a question of selfishness vs. altruism or human compassion, it’s a question of personal boundaries and the responsibility of each person to be primarily concerned with their own health and safety, and to conserve what energy they have for things that are uplifting, either to themselves or to their community.
Making ridiculous energetic sacrifices for other people with absolutely no way to replenish the energy spent is not only autonomous abuse, but completely counter-intuitive to the idea that happiness should be the central concern of a person’s life journey.
As to what happiness truly is…you’re better off trying to figure out what happiness isn’t. Which is what a lot of people spend their youth and early adulthood figuring out the hard way. Happiness is an internal state, not an external condition. No one else can be responsible for a person’s happiness: only that person can walk the Path meant for them. No job or amount of money or anything will make you happy if you are not already possessed of the mentality which allows happiness to exist.
And on that note, I would like to share with you my two favorite Christmas songs of all time.
Yes, they’re both Weird Al. And yes they’re both awesome.
Merry Christmas internet friends and faithful readers! Unless you don’t celebrate Christmas, in which case please feel free to insert the appropriate holiday into the above statement to make it inoffensive.