Why is it that bad things feel safer? I mean, they hurt like hell and you feel like shit, but it seems less terrifying than a good thing happening. I used to think it was the depression. I imagined depression as Jabba the Hut, feasting on my failures, my failures transforming into fat, pushing down on me harder. (Ugh. I know I chose the image but it’s still vile all the same.)
But I’m starting to think it’s a maladaptive behavior; a habit of safety and control. ‘Cuz if things start to get good, that means they can get bad. If I get something, it could be taken away. Or worse, I could enjoy it, and then it could be taken away or I could ruin it.
I know I have written on this quite a bit already, but I was thinking about it in the context of women recently. I think women are more likely to protect themselves through insults and assumptions of failure to protect against “embarrassment.” This is a generalization, but when my friends are waiting to hear back about something, they spend a lot of time talking about what they will do if they don’t get it or how they know they won’t because there are better people out there. They are already preparing for the worst, and they don’t know why. My male friends don’t seem to be that way. It’s not that they walk around like a sheriff, with their thumbs tucked in their pants, their chests broad like a rooster saying “I’m just kicking it, waiting for what’s mine.” But they don’t seem to spend as much time berating themselves beforehand like women do.
There is an Amy Schumer skit. (NSFW) I don’t actually think the skit is that funny, but I love the point of it. A bunch of women are standing around, and as one compliments the other, her automatic response is to point out something horrible about herself. They go back and forth, dissing themselves each time they get a compliment until one woman approaches. They compliment her and she thanks them, and they proceed to kill themselves. She has, by accepting the compliment, shaken the base of their lives to its’ core.
Are we stuck in a cycle where it’s never enough? Is that what the American Dream is attempting to create? Not a person striving to reach the top, but a person who is constantly told they can be better and therefore in their current state, is not enough. Because we can always be thinner, richer, “happier.” And evidently the fault lies with us, not with sexism, racism, homophobia, religious persecution, ethic-judging, classism, (any form of defeatism).
I suppose that’s why I hate the American Dream. It was created as propaganda to keep utilitarianism alive. But there isn’t really an American Dream. I can’t remember the last time I met someone who was content with where they were in life. I’m not saying you should get to a point of success and just stagnate there and quit. You should always try to challenge your mind, help others, question society. But that’s different than believing you need to be more, have more, want more in order to find this non-existent happiness.
What if the American Dream was rather a list of ideals to live your life by:
*Always respect those around you and treat them the way you want to be treated.
* Never assume to know who someone is, but always assume the best.
* Always help others, in whatever way you can, in whatever ways they need.
* Add value to the world in your actions
* Always analyze, critique and question everything in life
* Never stop learning
* Live your life in a way that makes you proud
(I’m clearly missing a few, so feel free to offer suggestions in the comment section.)
I don’t do religion, though in reading this, I suppose a lot of these fall under the tenets of most of them. I just think if we stopped trying to achieve and rather just tried to experience, live, understand, connect, and question, we might find moments of contentment, even if we can’t find this illusive and non-existent “happiness.”
Oh my goodness, did I really just write this cheesy ode to the world? Did I go hippy dippy on myself without realizing it? I better stop now before I go too deep and resent myself in the morning.