04 October 2010

Open Letter to a Friend

I don't presume to know everything about your life, whether you should feel obligated to anyone, or what keeps you from doing what you want to do. Nor do I presume to be so wise at 23 that I may advise you on how to do it. Hell, I struggle with my own hangups, so who am I to talk about how you should get over yours?

It's just that when I see or read you, I can't help but see also the bubble you've got around you. Some people will say it's a result of your upbringing, but that just gives you an excuse to stay there, when it should be the opposite. You've got the youth, the time, the brains, and yes, the money to do what you want. (You've even got a little egocentrism going--at least enough to believe this letter is for you.) Added bonus: you're actually attractive. What's really stopping you?

I think you're afraid. I think you're afraid of getting hurt, heartbroken, mugged, attacked, rejected, lost, and/or humiliated. I think you're afraid that if and when you screw up, you will disappoint someone. Your family, peers, superiors, and/or crushes will lose their respect for you. Some of them will outright desert you for your suckiness.

This just in: you've reached the age of majority. This means that, barring the law, the only one you have to disappoint is yourself. Yes, you want to keep the true friends; yes, you don't want to do anything that will break your mother's heart; and yes, you want to seem worthy to a potential SO. Thing is, you'll be all the more deserving of their love and respect if you lived your life without being so hungry for their approval.

If they seem to encourage that hunger, there are only two reasons to continue to allow their opinion to matter, and these are conditional. One, you genuinely love them, and doing what makes them happy does not perpetuate some kind of codependency. Two, you value their wisdom and mentorship, and they will ultimately encourage you to be less clingy and discover things on your own.

Wanting to please the wrong people will only make it that much harder to get out of your bubble. Already, you're both cushioned and suffocated by your fears, like sweet carbon monoxide in your sleep. It's scary out there, darling dear. Stay in here with us. We'll keep you safe. Stay.

You know, you're probably tired of listening to those voices. You're fed up with the way they control you. Maybe you're starting to see that these controls don't really exist, or don't have to, and the pin you need to pop the bubble is already in there with you.

And to play to the approval-seeker in you, you can probably tell that you come off as a bubble kid. I think you know what I'm talking about.

So you have something to contribute, you latch onto whatever detail in the conversation may possibly be connected to your experiences, only to underscore how much you have yet to gain--and not just when you recycle your tales.

You constantly draw attention to the things you would like to do and have yet to do, plus the flaws you have yet to work on--as if you need any more encouragement (see above paragraph on your inherent assets). Should you get discouragement instead, you're only so eager to take it and paste it up on the inside of your bubble, to thicken those walls.

Friend, you probably know that this reputation will be more damaging than the one you're likely to develop outside. You know that bullies will take advantage of your fear, because a bubble is just that much easier to push around. You know that people who really care about you will get frustrated, waiting for you to come out.

I mean really, what's the worst you can do out here? You make a bad decision. You fall, and for the wrong person or thing. You lose stuff, like wallets, keys, money, friends, houses, and jobs.

You're a smart person. It's not like you're the type to blindly rush into these things, right? And even if you do, you'll accept that the shit happened, you'll learn from it, and you'll move on, right? It's not like you're going to take that shit, your first failures, and use them to build a bigger, thicker bubble, right? Right?

(Good, because I figured we'd wait till we're bedridden and decaying to be surrounded by shit. At least then it won't be by choice.)

Right now, I've got a feeling of deja vu. I wouldn't be surprised if I took that bubble-shit metaphor stuff from someone else's prior, more eloquent writing. But that's just it, isn't it? People have written so many "move on with your life" letters and speeches in the past, and written better, that it's hard to claim this post is anything new. It's practically cliche. So, why are you taking it from me? Why are you just sitting there, looking at my blog? Why don't you just go already?

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