I am constantly riddled with the distinction between genuine truth and falsehood. I experienced disassociation for parts of my life. I don’t remember exactly but I recall feeling like a figment of my own imagination.
i was an alien sent from pluto avenging myself on anyone who thought my home wasn’t a planet. i was a fucking monster who wanted to avenge myself on anyone that didn’t believe i lived under their beds. i didn’t exist for any other purpose but to take a sledgehammer and ask at what point i cared enough to stop. i am not the same person anymore.
i remember my reality feeling so separate from other people’s. i had no certainty and i couldn’t escape the feeling that i didn’t exist, that i couldn’t keep existing, that i didn’t deserve existing because i couldn’t exist properly
sometimes it was nice though. it was kind of like being high.
Someone who feels that separation between their reality and the shared reality everyone else participates in must reconstruct their relationship with what is real by relearning to trust their own senses. This is often why I found myself relying on others to confirm what I already knew to be true. Support systems were crucial.
When I was 14, I desperately wanted to seem cool. I believed that if I looked like a cool person, that coolness would somehow infuse itself via osmosis into my essence. No pair of glasses ever gave me the confidence or the sense of belonging I craved. Seeming like a confident person was a band-aid on top of a crater of insecurity. I fell into self-loathing regardless of whether I wore plaid shirts and listened to music before it was cool.
i desperately envied the people who could have good facebook profile pictures and i sometimes got so lonely that i imagined myself being best friends with the marshall and lily from the sitcom how i met your mother. i watched it on repeat when i did my homework. i was friends with harry potter characters in my head. when i didn’t see my fictional friends for a while, i became lonely and craved to have their silly plots and chatter filling in the background. i didn’t like an empty background. the absence of foreground. the absence of focus. without focus i was overwhelmed. when i was overwhelmed i was scared. when i was scared i wanted a hug. when i wanted a hug i wanted friends. when i wanted friends i wanted hermione granger.
To avoid historical ignorance, I will not claim that people today are more likely to be caught up in falsehood. My mother claims that she was under immense pressure as a young person as well, hence why she bothered to perm her hair at all. But I will say that social media and the cultural obsession with celebrities and self-expression requires a level of self-performance. Growing up in that affected who I am now. It is ignorant to say that these cultural movements and innovations are dangerous, but they do present real challenges to the way we understand ourselves and express that self-understanding to the rest of the world.
“What do we want more than to lie in bed at the end of the day and just watch our life as a satisfied audience member” – Bo Burnham*
imagine being an audience member at every moment – no smartphone needed. performance is fun until it stops being a show and starts to be reality. the self-consciousness you have come to appreciate as an overactive fire alarm gets eyes and comments on your every activity. you are conscious of yourself making toast. you burnt it. you are an unsatisfied audience member that never bought a ticket. imagine that.
*from his stand-up performance Make Happy (on Netflix)