Conor’s Complaints: A little New Year’s contemplation
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Are You Feeling Infinite Yet?
Movies, literature, and parents’ nostalgia after too much red wine paint a picture of high school as this magical time period, a transformative experience that you will look back on forever. We are told that, right now, we are in the time of our lives. But how do you spend the time of your life? That is a high expectation to live up to. Have I been doing high school right? With my four years nearing a close, that question has popped up in my head frequently. Some people say if you aren’t involved in school activities and going to sporting events and dances that you’re missing out on the whole experience. Others argue that crowd is cliquey and superficial and would rather spend their time avoiding the entire scene. Some people spend all their time cramming over homework because they “need to prepare for their future” and others spend all their time partying because if they’re not they’re “missing out on their youth.” We’re young, so that’s what we’re “supposed to do.” I see the reasoning behind each option. The truth is, I don’t think there is one correct way. It is different for everybody. From what I’ve been told in the movies, a genuine moment is supposed to occur where I truly feel alive and free and am overcome with clarity and emotion. You’re supposed to feel “infinite,” whatever that means, but when it happens you’re supposed to know. So we spend our time chasing this feeling that is practically unreachable. On weekends, we hop from party to party looking for something better and 90 percent of the time nothing lives up to our expectations. Please no more parties in Tabor. I said please, baby, no more parties in Tabor. I’m not saying those movies are false and the feelings of magic and infiniteness they portray don’t exist. So don’t say to yourself, “He just doesn’t get it” or “He doesn’t know how to have fun.” I’m just saying this description makes high schoolers feel like they constantly have to live up to something extraordinary. These moments can happen, but they happen rarely and they are created by different things for different people. You don’t have to be involved in every school event to do high school “right.” You don’t have to get drunk at random house parties every Saturday night either, and you definitely don’t have to stand tall on a truck bed with highway wind rushing past your face as you drive through a tunnel. Sometimes staying in on a Saturday night to watch a movie or just chill with a small group of friends is the way to go. You shouldn’t feel like that is a waste of a night. “This is what fun looks like” is a subjective statement. Don’t hold high school up to a godly comparison and regret how you spent your time or feel like what you did was inadequate. The second we set our expectations to reality and feel at peace with what suits us, the more “infinite” we will feel.
It’s 9 ‘o’Clock on a Saturday…
Have you heard some people talk about adulthood? It makes me want to flip an hourglass upside down and move backwards. There is this common perception that making it into adulthood is like walking the plank. First, you start losing your friends! Then your dreams and career aspirations die! Then you get a job in middle management! Then pretty soon you die! If you don’t believe me that this perception is common, listen to the song “Piano Man” by Billy Joel. Basically he says life doesn’t work out for everybody the way they want it to and in response, they all become lonely alcoholics who can only be soothed by Billy’s smooth piano-playing. “They’re sharing a drink they call loneliness, but it’s better than drinking alone.” Yeesh Billy, that is bleak! Is that what adulthood is all about? Is that all you get for your money? Momma, if that’s movin’ up, then I’m moving out! (I know most of my peers aren’t getting that last Billy Joel reference, but some middle-aged dad is going “a-ha!” right now). My point for bringing all of this up is that I don’t want to spend my adulthood wishing I am still in my youth or as if my dreams are being pushed toward the end of a plank. That is no way to approach life! I get it. Getting older isn’t always cool. Watch an episode from the second season of “Friends” and then watch an episode from the final season. Seeing all the actors wrinkle and age, or become slightly out-of-shape (Chandler) causes the show to lose a little of its luster. Also at that point you’re thinking, “How are you guys still hanging out at a coffee shop everyday? It’s just kind of weird now.” If that example didn’t have you sold, watch 1990s Adam Sandler movies and then look at 2017 Adam Sandler. Yikes. He’s not so charming anymore. So you get it now; growing older isn’t always cool. However, this narrative that entering adulthood is the start of the end of your life is over dramatic. Tell nostalgia to shut up a little. Growing up includes a lot of amazing events and moments to look forward to and dreams don’t always have an expiration date (except for that elementary school dream I had to make it to the NBA. I don’t think that one’s going to pan out.). I do get that life doesn’t always work out and things change. There’s sadness in that. I also in no way think “Piano Man” is a bad song, like any white person, I think it rocks. My main point is we should not assume change or the passing of time is terrible. It can be incredible. Who knows though, maybe I’m too naive to speak on this subject.