I recommend you don’t read this, it’s just the beginning of seasonal depression setting in.
The hardest part of graduating college (which I did in May of this year) has been finding myself alone again. This problem only gets worse due to the fact that I have returned to my childhood hometown for a career job. On paper, things couldn’t really be better for me. I’ve followed in the steps of my forefathers, forsaking manual labor for a desk job, something I’m allowed to do thanks to my education. I have a steady relationship, a cat, my own apartment, a paycheck (which, despite the dismal amount people in my profession get paid, is still more than I have ever had) and a few close friends who I see each week to play fantasy roleplaying games and consume copious amounts of alcohol with. Yet, I feel unbelievably empty. I feel like my brain is slowing rotting. My memory has become shit, I rarely write or read anymore, and every decision I make doesn’t feel like something I’ve made, more of something the cosmos has handed me. Most of my days involve work followed by immediate escapism into the realm of HBO, Netflix, Reddit, and video games. I know I’m the only one to blame for this, but I continue to find scapegoats. Predominantly, the emotional drain of lacking the conversations I used to have.
At school, all those months ago, I had a network of likeminded people who all found sheer pleasure, or perhaps schadenfreude, from having continual intellectual conversations. The classroom, the bar, the walk in between, was always full with the pondering of people who strove to better understand the curse of life that had been put upon them. People who valued, and questioned, and (never wanted to understand) battle with what it meant to be alive. I thrived in such a location. Every decision was made with hedonism, every word made me feel alive, every time I picked up a book I saw a challenge that I couldn’t wait to conquer. Now, people who are content surround me. And in that content-ness, my own contempt has grown from ember into a raging fire.
The few life rafts I have seem too scattered and often, equally shattered by the dismal bubble lifestyle this place breeds, to save me. I lost the community where I built myself, trading it in for a community that had built the version of me that first entered the factory of my happiness. The worst part, the people here are so happy I’m back. They don’t ask if this tonal shift has had any impact on me. To tell them I’m having a mental breakdown would only make them think that I no longer belong in the place that primed me for true self-actualization.
Perhaps an analogy, to best describe my current emotional status. The common cuckoo bird lays its egg in the nest of another bird. That mother bird, which sits upon the cuckoo egg, can’t help but mistake the baby cuckoo as its own. It will raise the cuckoo child, with all the tenacity and infatuation of a mother. I am the cuckoo bird realizing for the first time that it is, in fact, not like the others. No, I am the cuckoo child, which, upon figuring out this great identity crisis, went and lived with its own kind for some time. And that time, amongst the other cuckoos was the best time of my life. A thousand misguided children, led by older misguided children, falling in love with our own images for the first time. Yet, I have returned to the nest my true mother abandoned me in, only to find the birds I shared a nest with as shallow, and lacking the charisma of my fellow cuckoo. This realization is crushing. Who I grew up as and who I truly am cannot co-exist. If I don’t kill one identity or the other, this stagnation will be my hell. My eternal furnace of self-punishment.
Then again, 2016 has been a shit year for everyone. David Bowie is gone, an evil pumpkin is showing us how easy it is to kill the idea of democracy, and the zeitgeist really just seems to care about a gorilla and memes.
In the words of some whiney band, “Emotional baby boy, emotional man”.”