Consider this your digital Bar / Bat Mitzvah!
Just a few things to get out of the way:
- First and foremost: this is not meant to be one of those awful pseudo inspirational thinkpieces. I realize there is an entire Personal Responsibility Porn industrial complex that has thankfully been quarantined to Medium.
- I’ll be making some pretty broad generalizations.
- I am a straight, white American male. (It’s great, I know!)
Keeping those things in mind, I’m going to do my best here to debunk some conventional wisdom that’s been ingrained into this failed social contract of ours. Starting with the…
Narrative of Competence
Remember when, as a child, you thought of that shining distant future self who was going to be so great? And now you’re just who you are and that’s cool, right? You weren’t transfigured into an adult at some precipitous moment, you never struggled heroically until you were ready for the ultimate challenge — you never had the whole world turn to you at once and confirm explicitly that you are the finest human being to have ever lived. That’s cool though, okay?
People seem so quick to disqualify themselves from almost any opportunity/job/esteemed position because of the inadequacy/unworthiness/unpreparedness they perceive in themselves.
Yes, I respect the experience and training of all parties involved when the plane I’m in successfully touches the ground. Of course I respect the finesse of the lady who somehow scratches plaque off my teeth with a hooked instrument effortlessly while making light chit chat without hideously maiming me for life.
I might not trust you to be an air traffic controller or a dental hygienist, but I’d probably support you pursuing that thing you always wanted to do and/or ascent to whatever position you’ve always desired at your job/bid for presidency. At the very least, I would only object to your appreciation in prestige and position as much as I do to the people who currently reside at that strata.
That 17-year-old kid who is really good at being a Get Go employee should be the mayor. I would go door to door for him.
Narrative of Good vs Evil
I spent some of my early years thinking near daily about how:
- God is good and Satan is bad.
- The USA is strong and right and good and Iraq is weak and wrong and bad.
- The GI Joes are the coolest and best people on earth and Cobra Commander should be captured and executed ASAP.
While it might be a little bit more excusable for a five-year-old to walk around thinking about how nothing would be better than having an enemy worthy of their hatred, it’s an especially bad look on adults.
I’m not gonna belabor the opinion of “Real life is more complicated than GI Joes” so let’s wrap this one up.
Some people never get past that good guy vs. bad guy narrative and carry it with them for life. Y’know those people who walk around with so much anger and let it spill out in the weirdest places, on the most inconsequential bullshit? I live to play the heel in their lives!
Not related: some people get a tattoo of the Star Wars Empire symbol or cosplay as Destro. They are just sad.
(On a slightly contradictory side note, let’s continue to smile and applaud as Nazis get mowed down in Indiana Jones movies forever.)
Narrative of Realness
The worst people use the word ‘hipster’ the most, right? Everyone knows this now and can agree on it, right? The meaning of hipster becomes more diffuse and confused, but the people who casually dispense the word as an insult are definitively the fucking worst.
And hey! Fuck the people who litter YouTube with this pablum:
"(artist/s playing above) are the greatest. I remember the oldschool stuff back before ______, ________ and ______ came along and fucked up the whole game. This is the real shit. Fuck Drake."
It just reads as “I like a handful of things and am not just closed to, but openly hostile toward all new experiences forever.”
We all start out with roughly the same factory setting shitty personality for the most part. As a teenager you might like a few things enough to write them on the cover of your notebook.
But the real test isn’t just forming opinions and preferences independently of whatever South Park tells you is cool. Lest you go on compiling definitive lists of all the things you hate.
Maybe you got past that or maybe you just go on pretending you hate Mariah Carey’s “You’ll Always Be My Baby” for your rest of your life.
The Narrative of People without Answers Being Stupid.
Real quick now:
A terrible habit was beaten into you by all those years of quizzes and teachers calling on you to answer a question while you were just trying to remain focused on staying awake:
Having an answer.
Having an answer no matter how ill-prepared/poorly phrased/ill-informed is a requisite at all times.
When someone says “I don’t know” in a position where they credibly could have just pulled something out of their ass, they have my respect for life.
So there you are, my highly effective teens. Do with this chicken soup for your soul what you will!