The End Of Justification
Justification, to self or to others, is bullshit.
Let me start over.
Lately, inconsistency and I have been pretty good friends. Well, Internet inconsistency anyway. The act of blogging, or Youtubing, or social media-ing….these things haven’t come consistently or easily to me lately.
And that’s not exactly new for me. You see (despite that I realize I am about to say something completely paradoxical) inconsistency in certain areas of life has been somewhat habitual for me. I am not often consistently challenged, and therefore, I am not often consistently engaged. While I often undertake tasks for my own personal happiness (challenging or not), I also often find that what makes me happy changes faster than I or anyone else can keep track of.
In any case, I’ve been lately inconsistent with writing on The LITMO Life.
And truth be told, writing in general.
Writing has not been making me happy lately. Actually, with more precision: public writing has not been making me happy lately.
And here’s why: people have not been making me happy lately.
Let’s back up, one more time.
I began writing exclusively for myself. As a kid, I kept journals on journals on journals. As a teenager, I actually enjoyed the creative writing prompts many of us were subject to in high school. As an adult, I abandoned creative writing in favor of the legal career I was pursuing, only to happily rediscover it later at a time of great transition.
At some point, I started writing to share. I realized I liked sharing my experience with others because it helped me connect to others. Anyone that has known me for any length of time knows that my interest has always been first and foremost in creatures. Human creatures, animal creatures. Creatures that feel pain. Creatures that love. Creatures that have strange motivations for doing the things they do.
I love creatures. And what are humans but the most complex creatures of all? Humans often don’t even know why they do the things they do. Humans get caught in a trap of believing what other humans tell them. Humans struggle to find ways that they want to human for themselves.
So it was nice, in my experience, to make significant connections with other humans through writing.
And I always wanted to see the best in people. I always want to believe that even when someone does something shitty, they are doing it because it’s coming from a place of insecurity, or instability, or inability (to comprehend, to empathize, or to love in the moment). I never, ever want to believe that humans do shitty things to other humans just for the sake of doing shitty things to other humans.
I continued to believe that even when, by all accounts, it was clear that sometimes humans do shitty thing to other humans just for the sake of doing shitty things to other humans.
And here’s the other thing about humans: the ones that choose to comment on the Internet are often shallow, maudlin, one-dimensional, repugnant, swamp-like hyenas who likely have no idea how to connect with other humans in real life, and therefore spend their days screaming to be heard in the anonymous world of ones and zeros.
In short, Internet commentators are bullshit.
And writing, especially on the Internet, will naturally draw commentators. I have mostly had a personal policy of not reading the comments on my pieces published in more established outlets. However, as my career grows, so too does the violability of my inner sanctum. I’m on the Internet, so I am highly reachable. Via comment, or Facebook, or Twitter, or email. It’s the nature of the beast.
And (here’s where I get even more frank): I have also lately become sick of all the bullshit.
For me, reveling in the joy and excitement of a new marriage, it has been fun to write about love and marriage and relationships. Much of my prior writing career, though, was in the land of politics and social justice and cultural reform.
Writing, as any other art, is inherently valuable.
That said, living in the world of personal essays about relationships and sex and travel and food and trips felt fun for me for a time, but has now begun to feel hollow.
When the math is done, all of the reasons that I wanted to pursue public writing in the first place are all disappearing slowly but surely.
I am no longer finding enjoyment in the connection with other humans, because other humans know first and foremost how to judge instead of connect. The essays I was writing as an invitation to connect are being seen instead as an invitation to criticize.
I am no longer finding enjoyment in social media, as it’s become just an avenue for people to contact me about everything they need without once asking how I am doing in return.
I am no longer finding enjoyment in writing about light-hearted lifestyle topics because the world is feeling too heavy.
In a world of Trump and First Amendment rights and terrorism and “terrorism” and walls and rape and stupid, idiotic, hollow memes about “covfefe” and judgment on comedians without appreciation of comedy as commentary and broad, sweeping designed distractions like mindless television shows and national pastimes, writing publicly about – and being judged for writing publicly about – things like my views on monogamy and my marriage and my travels hasn’t felt worth it to me.
I occasionally go through periods of change that I refer to as personal metamorphoses. I start shedding the friends that are more like “friends,” I sleep more, I think more, I journal more, I spend time assessing what hasn’t been working. And inevitably, I make a change. On the last of these such metamorphoses, I quit my job, left a huge part of society, and went to travel full-time. Now, a year later, newly married, newly assessing the value of things in my life, I feel I am going through another metamorphosis.
And in that vein, I’ve been cocooning. I’ve been responding to bullshit texts and emails and messages less. I’ve been present with my cell phone a lot less. I’ve been focusing on my physical fitness more. I’ve been happily engrossed in a bubble of marriage, and puppy, and kitty, and family. I’ve been spending my days alone, working, and my evenings with my husband or our family or our animals or all of the above.
Even friends with the best of intentions (perhaps) have been feeling like too much. We often advise others based on what we’re doing, or what we would like to be doing, or what we wish we could be doing, instead of advising others based on what they need. Further, we also often advise others without an invitation to do so. I have been very happily cocooned in my newlywed, newly-living-close-to-family bubble. For a while, I felt it a necessity to “get out” and “do more” but now, I don’t. Cocooning is what is making me happy, so cocooning is what I’ll continue to do.
I don’t know what will happen at the end of this transformation when I de-cocoon. I suspect, like other transformations, I’ll find myself happier, more fulfilled, with less friends perhaps, but with more meaningful relationships with the friends I have left. I suspect I’ll also find myself even further removed from the societal norms of a 9-5 work day, a white picket fence, bills, debt, a mortgage, insurance…and every step designed to keep us in the system. I hope that I will continue writing about the things I love – even the lighthearted things like fun and travel and love and relationships – but I am not sure what will come.
The truth is, I didn’t have to write this long, rambling blog to get to the simple premise on which I will wrap up: I am sick of it. I am sick of nearly all of it. I am sick of the judgment. I am sick of the selfishness. I am sick of the idiocy. I am sick of people allowing themselves to be distracted by television shows and social media. I am sick of people ignoring that the world is falling apart around us. I am sick of people letting bullshit networks like Fox News and CNN and MSNBC dictate what they focus on. I am sick of people finding worthwhile uses of their time in making fun of a president for a mistyped midnight tweet, instead of finding worthwhile uses of their time resisting everything else more insidious that president does. I am sick of cultural appropriation. I am sick of white privilege. I am sick of the power we give stupid words. I am sick of the “safe space” bubble so many of us have helped create, where jokes, comedy, and even serious conversations about issues like race, weight, gender, mental health, and so many other things can’t be discussed for fear of “triggering” something.
I am sick of the need of all of us to justify ourselves. To our own individual psyches and to others.
So, I’m opting out for a little while. Opting out of what, exactly? Everything that doesn’t make me happy and make me feel like I’m contributing to the world in some way. I will still write on The LITMO Life, when I want, about what I want. And sometimes, I won’t. The “blog as business” idea didn’t work for me, it just made me feel like a sellout. So I’m opting out of blogging on a regular schedule. I’m opting out of YouTubing and deciding, instead, to start building a quieter life. I’m opting out of social media, for a little while. I’m opting out of feeling obligated, to anyone, for anything. I’m opting out of saving people’s feelings when I think they are acting like terrible human beings.
I hope, soon, that I will go back to some of the things I loved. I hope I will want to write more about fun topics, and things like love and marriage because I truly feel more centered, more like myself, and more ready to take on new adventures than I ever have. Sometimes, being anchored in a certain way – anchored to a love, to a marriage, to family, to animals – makes you realize all of the ways in which you are still floating about. The ways in which you want to continue to float and the ways in which you’d like to float less.
If we are friends – true friends – and a friendship with me still feels valuable to you, then I hope you can understand that I’m going through a change. I don’t know what it is yet or how it will continue to manifest, but I do know that I’m done doing anything for anyone but me. At one point, I wanted a life filled with connections with others, online or in-person, and filled with sharing and openness and making allowances and little to no boundaries. Everything I’ve experienced in the last year has taught me that that kind of life isn’t sustainable – for me, anyway. That I’m too sensitive, too introspective. What I want, at least for now, is a life filled with love, family, and more often than not, quiet. So in that vein, unfortunately, I won’t be able to be the best friend at the moment. I want off Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat and YouTube. I want the space for reflection, not mindless browsing.
Though I didn’t have to write this blog to explain how I am feeling, I am glad I did. So much of my life over the last year has been public, and there have been parts I have loved about that. And my desire to start The LITMO Life before I began my travels was based on my belief in the power of one thing: honesty. Life isn’t always rainbows and sunshine, and too many bloggers, Instagrammers, Facebookers, YouTubers, etc. project an image of life that is pure perfection. There are, however, hardships, too. There is change, there is growth, there is the busting out of things that don’t fit anymore, and the less-than-graceful transition to a new path. Sometimes, you stumble into perfection in one area, like marriage, and it makes you reassess what you’ve been settling for in others.
So yes, I would like to continue the journey and if at all possible, I would like to continue it with my readers. Alas, certain old adages become ensconced in the public consciousness because of their blunt truth: the only constant in life is change.
And often, if you allow it to be, the change is the best part.
So here’s to change.