I think the two to three years following college should come with a warning a label.
"WARNING: Severe levels of turbulence via career, family and love. In no way will it get easier after these post-collegiate years, but you will get better at dealing with winds of change. Or, you won't. It's the only choice you have other than which vice gets you through. Happy Adulting!"
Moving to California has been the most introspective event of my life. For the first time, I'm in a place where I am comfortable enough to explore myself. In Alabama, the cultural forces at play are so opposite to my being that I lost me amongst the thicket of trees. "Lost" isn't the correct word, but either is found. It was a war I fought in and I'm still waiting to find out who won. Whatever she did, Alabama found a way to lodge herself inside my mind so that I can't shake her. Whether it's civic engagement or entrepreneurship, I'm always thinking of ways to divert resources back to Dixie.
In the grand scheme of life, the period following college is a lot like middle school. If you didn't fall flat on your face, question the point of existence and feel the last embers of innocence finally burn out; then I don't trust you. I kid, but more likely than not, what I have experienced won't resonate with you. Or, maybe it will. But, you don't resonate with me.
The similarities I have seen between these two supposedly polar opposite places has caused me a lot of grief these past two years. I have questioned if I was the problem, who simply lacked an appetite for American culture, or has America forgotten herself? As always, it's a little bit both and then something else, too.
Do I have the ability to be happy or did I come out wailing as a baby because I was already done with being here? I've even thought that mental illness – or mine, anyway – is the punishment for the sins of past lives. Everyone is imbued with energy from a collective life force – humanity – and we get back what we put in. As someone who is on his seventh life (6 major moves and coming out as gay), I have tried to make progress with this angry force while it's mine to control.
There is a reason the madness and genius are so closely aligned. When you're intelligent, you have all the thoughts – not just some of them. You think the good things, the evil things, the morally ambiguous things. What does that make you? Human? A monster? Is there a difference?
What happens when those monsters inside your head are your friends? Not in the sense that you converse with them, but that they have protected you. That monster has been the difference between a bashed in head and walking home. That monster was scary enough to protect others because other monsters didn't want to deal with you when they came for sheep.
In 2017, I'm accepting the fact that I'm not a good person. I'm not a bad person, but I'm also not motivated by "good" things. My motivations are based on inefficiencies that trigger my anxieties.
I'm not empowered by any community. If anything, one of my biggest lessons this year was coming to terms with the fact that I will never like crowds. I'll never feel energized by a club or packed bar. I'll never love music festivals. Massive demonstrations tend to over power my senses and exhaust me.
I have a cognitive need to contribute, but I have a visceral rejection to participate.
Slowly, I've been forcing myself back into the public. I actually don't know how many events, meeting, happy hours, etc. I flaked on in the past two years. It was a mix of depression and Bay Area Flake Syndrome (which is just a euphemism for the consequences of our societal addiction to mobile technology). I have to find the right interactions. Work-oriented groups/task forces are my kind of people and I can motivate myself to those meetings (mostly).
Most importantly, interacting on that more personal/productive level has always contributed to my creativity and writing production. In 2017, I remembered writing is what has always gotten me through.