Self isolating from self
But they sound worse than us and I know a lot of my issues come from not rebelling enough at the right points in life.Young adult fiction is a stepping stone, good if it helps you get better at understanding people without a Wes Anderson narrator whispering in your ear. Unfortunately, the ability to parrot accepted opinions is often taken for the ability to derive judgments of one’s own. I’m thinking of a homestuck 13 year old who is constantly told that he/she is “so mature” for getting straight A’s and being well-spoken with the dinner guests and not ditching class to smoke brick weed with Devin. Whether or not those behaviors are good, the kid isn’t mature, he or she is well-trained, and if you keep claiming maturity then you are going to stunt development. Sorry: not having an adolescent rebellion means you didn’t complete adolescence. The result is neotenous adults who are not overly sensitive—as conservative media would claim—but rather overly dependent on external rules. Cards Against Humanity is so funny, right? You get to say bad words, but it’s only a game.
“Help, I was a gifted kid and now I’m a normal adult!” Different adjective, same problem. Once Hal Incandenza is typecast as “gifted,” everyone will find it convenient to grade him (praise/no praise) on whether he is living up to his label. How do you look gifted? You can solve P vs. NP……or you can read the dictionary. I’ll bet that every ex-gifted kid who now uses “adulting” as a verb is a fan of those faux-pretentious memes, “mfw she confuses epistemics and ontology,” fitting Wikipedia philosophy into preformed joke structures, lowbrow expressions of highbrow concepts, a few college words to suggest immeasurable depths. You do what you know: exert the minimum necessary effort to convince other people of your intelligence. But you can’t convince yourself.
The consequences are predictable. Imposter syndrome. Scrupulosity. Sexual fetishes suffixed with -play. Gushing compassion ruined by the inability to picture how one appears to the outside world. Neediness. Ill-fitting jeans. Trouble with romance, and not because they don’t know how—deep down they do—but because they cling to a rulebook (“milady”) instead of trusting instinct. They were never allowed to have instincts. For that matter they’ve never really wanted, never felt a desire that wasn’t assigned, which is why: open relationships, switched majors, medicated anxiety, and ambivalence, ambivalence, ambivalence.
I know how heavy lies the burden of wasted potential. So please take this in the gentlest possible way: you were never that great. Greatness is a meaningless thing to apply to a kid, or a college student, or any idea that hasn’t forced it’s way onto paper. The only path is forward. “It’s our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” I think that’s Dumbledore, take it or leave it—there’s a time and a place for young adult fiction