Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Failure to launch

I haven't posted much to this blog this month, even though there's so much going on in the world and just as much I could say about it.

I've actually sat down at my computer several times in the past week or so to write about all of it: the devastating earthquake in Japan (and the YouTube video from a crazed Catholic who saw it as some sort of "beautiful" sign from God); the Wisconsin loss; Governor Rick Snyder's plan to destroy my home state of Michigan; the victim-blaming piece of bullshit I read in the New York Times about the gang rape of an eleven-year-old girl in Texas; and the news that a woman in Nebraska--thanks to her state's anti-choice legislation--was forced to watch her newborn die because she had not been permitted to terminate a pregnancy that doctors told her would result in the death of her baby.

But each time I've started writing, I've gotten too overwhelmed/tired, given up, and gone to bed. Lately, I've felt too deflated to accomplish much of anything.

I feel as disappointed in the world as I did in the first grade, when a classmate called and asked if I'd like to come over and play Candy Land with her. I envisioned her house--which I'd visited many times--transformed into a castle made of candy. I pictured the two of racing through it, sugar adding to the energy I already had just from my level of excitement. And I eagerly said yes.

But Candy Land turned out to be just a board game.

I read a really great Between the Lines article last week called "The kid aren't all right," about how my generation isn't going to stand for any anti-LGBT bullshit. One part in particular gave me some much-needed hope: "This generation is often ridiculed for having a sense of entitlement. But these kids show that they feel entitled to basic human rights. And if those rights aren't there, they're going to organize, ask, demand, and fight to have them."

If that's true, then I need to find a way to join in. Part of why I'm so down about things lately is that I feel like I'm the only person who gives a shit about anything (even though from reading my friends' posts on Facebook, I know that I'm not).

But I feel so terribly alone because my current living situation and babysitting job make it really hard for me to go out and pursue my interests. I live with my parents twenty minutes from campus, don't have a car of my own, and work on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings. And because I'm a transfer student, I don't really have any friends in the area.

So, woe is me. I keep telling myself to be strong and stick it out until June, when the kids I babysit will be done with school for the year and I can think about moving on to something else, freeing up my evenings. But that's not real strength.

When I transferred to Wayne State, I moved in with my parents because doing so would save money. I knew that transferring would mean taking longer than four years to finish up my BA. So I thought that by moving in with them, I'd be making them happy. Because if there's one surefire way to make my parents happy, it's by saving money.

But it just hasn't turned out that way. My parents, though they mean well, are stuck in some kind of time warp, and are waiting for me to "launch." Their word choice scares me. I'm afraid that by their definition, I'm never going to "launch." I got my driver's license three and a half years after it was legal for me to do so. I won't finish college in four years. And to top it all off, I'm gay, so even if I were in a committed relationship, it's not like I could get married anytime soon.

I mean, it's understandable for my parents (like any parents) to want to watch their kids grow into successful adults. But what they don't understand is that for so many reasons, they can't hold me to the standard to which their parents held them. For one thing, there are obvious economic obstacles to making it through college in four years (thanks, Rick Snyder, for slashing state funding to Michigan colleges/universities by more than 20%).

And more importantly, there are so many ways to be successful. And success, to me, is happiness. We can agree that I've failed. But I'm not a failure because I got my driver's license three and a half years later than my peers. I'm not a failure because I won't graduate from college on time. And I'm not a failure because I have no desire to marry and have children. Instead, I am a failure because I've settled for living in Grosse Pointe. I'm a failure because two hours from now, I'm going to leave the house for an evening of babysitting instead of leaving it to go after what really inspires me.

Life has told me to settle for board games. Living, however, has taught me that if I have any hope of doing something good for this world during my time here, I need to build a candy castle--even if right now, it only exists in my imagination, and no on else can see or understand my need to create it.

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