The epiphanies and panicked need for change once associated with mid-life seem to now come when we hit our thirties. Equal parts Fight Club and a Liftime Movie of the Week, thirty year old musician John Mayer’s heartfelt March 27th blog entry, still knocks at the door of some reclusive truths of the times we live in. I’ve always thought that insight, unlike wisdom, can come from anyone and from any angle. Incidentally wisdom only comes from men with white beards and blind black women.
What I’m about to write isn’t about fame or success or celebrity or the media. That’s my business.
This is about us all.
This is about a level of self consciousness so high in my generation, that it’s actually toxic.
This is about the girl in her bedroom who poses in front of the camera she’s awkwardly holding in her outstretched hand. She’ll take a hundred photos until coming up with one she’s happy with, which inevitably looks nothing like her, and after she’s done poring over images of herself, will post one on her myspace page and then write something like ” I don’t give a f*ck what you think about me.”
This is about the person trying out for American Idol, who while going off about how confident they are that they were born ready to sing in front of the world, are trembling so badly they can hardly breathe.
This is about me, the guy who walks through a throng of photographers into a restaurant like he’s Paul Newman, but who leaves a “reject” pile of clothes in his closet so high that his cleaning lady can’t figure out how one man can step into so many pairs of pants in a week.
This is about a young guy who maintains a celebrity blog that subsists on tearing other people down but who has wrestled with a lifelong battle for acceptance as a gay man.
This is about us all. Every one of us. Who all seem to know deep down that it’s incredibly hard to be alive and interact with the world around us but will try and cover it up at any cost. For as badass and unaffected as we try to come off, we’re all just one sentence away from being brought to the edge of tears, if only it was worded right. And I don’t want to act immune to that anymore. I took the biggest detour from myself over the past year, since I decided that I wasn’t going to care about what people thought about me. I got to the point where I had so much padding on that, sure, I couldn’t feel the negativity, but that’s because I couldn’t feel much of anything. And I think I’m done with that.
I’m not the first person to admit we’re all self conscious, Kanye was. But what I want to do is to shed a little light on why we’re all in the same boat, no matter the shape of the life we lead: because every one of us were told since birth that we were special. We were spoken to by name through a television. We were promised we could be anything that we wanted to be, if only we believed it and then, faster than we saw coming, we were set loose into the world to shake hands with the millions of other people who were told the exact same thing.
And really? Really? It turns out we’re just not all that special, when you break it down. Beautifully unspectacular, actually. And that truth is going to catch up with us whether we want to run from it or not. The paparazzo following me to the gym ain’t gonna be Herb Ritts and the guy he’s following ain’t gonna be Bob Dylan. It’s just a matter of how old you are once you embrace that fact. And for me, 30 sounds about right.
What now, then? I can only really say for myself: Enjoy who I am, the talents and the liabilities. Stop acting careless. In fact, care more. Be vulnerable but stay away from where it hurts. Read. See more shows. Of any kind. Rock shows, art shows, boat shows. Create more art. Wear hoodies to dinner. Carry a notebook and hand it to people when they passionately recommend something and ask them to write it down for me.
Root for others.
Give more and expect the same in return, but over time.
Act nervous when I’m nervous, puzzled when I don’t know what the hell to do, and smile when it all goes my way. And never in any other order than that.
And when it’s all over, whether at the end of this fabulous career or of this life, which I hope takes place at the same time, I should look back and say that I had it good and I made the most of it while I was able. And so should you.
I’m going quiet now.