What’s New?Guest Post, · Categories: Guest Posts
In a year where so much has burned to cinders it’s strange to even say “the grass is always greener,” but that tendency to look for the newly green has been on my mind of late. A few situations stacked up on one another and pointed out a pattern in my thinking that feels like something one would outgrow in adolescence. I’m prone to get really hung up on whatever is new to me and think it’s somehow going to be the solution to a vast range of problems, and then end up disappointed and sad. It shouldn’t be surprising, because when has such a thing ever happened? (Maybe if I fell in love with penicillin when it was new, but not so much with people, jobs, diets, or religions.) Yet here I am again, reveling in the dirt over the septic tank.
In some cases there’s nothing there to hang a hope on, but that has never stopped me from projecting a story out to infinity and casting myself in a starring role, though surely one dwarfed by your blinding magnificence. If I like you, you’re doomed to be cast as a superhero of some sort. This is hopeless because it’s a situation where reality has no foothold, but it also leaves me feeling humiliated for failing to guard against it. Being reminded that I have a tendency to expect others to save me is just another layer on this already fairly shitty cake.
There are so many circumstances where it feels like I missed that one critical day of school where everyone matured, and I am somehow waiting for a chance to do the make-up work. My upbringing was largely free of milestones: Never learned to drive, didn’t go to prom, never been on a date or had a career, you get the idea. There are things about being unstuck from that schedule that are agreeable. I’ve kept a commitment to learning, I love toys, games, and cartoons unabashedly, and have not let life steal my sense of humor. These are all good! But this particular starfucker thought-loop has proven costly for me, and led me to be pretty unfair to people who have turned out to be human and not miracle unicorns.
The crazy thing is, I can sidestep it sometimes and everything works better when I do. I was resistant to start therapy in large part because it was a certainty that I’d be talking to a person who actually listened to me, something I’ve had very little of in life, and no way was that going to happen without my getting tremendously hung up on them. It totally happened. But it was okay because, knowing to expect it, I kept my brain on a short leash and my behavior on lock down. Somehow making right behavior a predictable thing is not a skill I’ve been able to master, though. I’d like to map a path from wherever this is to somewhere a little more developmentally advanced.
It makes a certain kind of sense, though. New growth is appealing because it suggests continuity rather than something that will end. I wrote something recently about joy and mentioned the Sarah Dougher song “Secret Porno Collector,” whose protagonist only wants “to keep on pretending that every pleasure’s never-ending.” Is that too much to ask? Can’t we all have a secret hole in one wall where this stuff is allowed to fester and flourish?
We probably can, and many among us likely do. But it’s hardly worth it if it comes at the cost of really knowing one another. I’ve spent many years plugging holes in loneliness with shallow chatter because it was all I had access to. But just as it became plain that impersonal contact had no nutritive value, it also weighs on me that my overblown expectations have the potential to break the backs of people I’d like to know better, and not as captives laid up in traction. It feels like the price of potential authenticity is growing up, a punishment I’m tentatively willing to endure. After all, the grass does it every day.
Heather Seggel is a freelance writer who would just like to emphasize how much hygge she’s packing in this photo.