“And we can find out the information
Access all the applications
That are hardening positions based on miscommunication
Oh, f*ck your feelings
Truth is only hearsay
We’re just left to decay
Modernity has failed us
… And I’d love it if we made it.” – The 1975
It’s a running joke among me and those close to me that one of these days, I’m just going to walk into traffic. It’s said with a healthy dose of abject sarcasm and, if you didn’t know me, it might be concerning. If you do know me, however, then you’re likely the kind of person who suffers from chronic over-achievement, too, and are trying to figure out exactly which freeway you plan to walk out onto yourself.
What can I say? I only keep company with the best.
The hip, new thing is calling my generation the “burnout generation.” We’re not so good at turning off, it seems, and have made a career out of always being available, always being on, and mastering our lives/brand (because these are the same thing #obvi). We were raised with accomplishment at the forefront, and we’ll be damned if we don’t “kill it.”
At any given moment, I’m “work/life balancing” my career at a Fortune 100 company with being a wife/mom, helping my husband run a gym, being the President of the LGBTA employee network, being a lead recruiter for Texas A&M, writing 3 books (in various stages of editing/drafting), finishing my 200 hour Registered Yoga Teacher Training, travelling, training, and sometimes having friends if I can manage to combine them with eating or one of my other hobbies.
There’s a sign on my desk that says: “I need something that’s more than coffee but less than cocaine.” Nothing has ever understood me like this sign.
“I think I’d welcome the end… just slide into whatever oblivion there is and then ask whatever god comes to meet me to rip me apart,” Ander ruminated. “No heaven, no hell; I just don’t want to exist anymore. I just want to rest.”
As a writer, you find yourself very excited when something resonates with your readers. You want your entire work to resonate, obviously, but everyone subscribes to different things. When you’re writing a series where perspective is its own character, you figure what sticks for one person, will offend the next. So when the previous quote came back time and time again as a highlight… well, I noticed a trend.
When I was at my most recent weekend module for my yoga training, I came home late on Friday and told Daniel about all the things I’d learned. I told him about the paper I had to write, about how worn out I was going to be come Sunday, and gave him a run down of my to-do list outside of the module. I made a joke about how I wasn’t going to survive.
“Of course not,” he said*, “because you don’t know how to just relax and have fun.”
Um. Of course I do. Look at all the super fun things I do. Then he pointed out my knack for turning super-fun-things into work, and I started to notice yet another trend: I don’t know how to just be. And neither does anyone else I know.
Because being on (and on brand) is central to our definition of ‘being,’ we are struggling to keep up. Every addiction, every action, every political opinion, every blog post (hi, yes, I see the hypocrisy) has to be a part of something greater than ourselves. Part of the collective consciousness. Part of our narrative. And because we can’t scale it back, we find ourselves further polarized. We double down. We speak louder, and for longer. We forget that there’s beauty in the complexity, that there’s compromise somewhere in the center. In the words of Walt Whitman: “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself; I am large — I contain multitudes.”
*If he sounds like he’s being a jerk–he’s not. He knows he has the same problem.
All this to say: we have to get better, friends. We aren’t going to survive if everything is a hustle (or the hustle that pays for the side hustle). We thrive on the idea that we are paving the way for ourselves (we are), that we are changing culture to fit our more “relaxed” lifestyle (we are), that we are manifesting our dreams (we are), but then we are all self-medicating for our crippling anxiety. We don’t know how to relax and have fun. We even turned self-care into a damn industry, and we are going to over-achieve ourselves to death.
Do yourself a favor; go get lost in something. Go for a walk. Or read a book (shameless plug for Sons of Mil because it’s my new obsession and the author is bomb). Take a bath. And don’t Instagram it.
Because I would love it if we made it.