Posts Tagged Introspective
I am now 20 years old. Or, to be precise, I will be 20 years old by the time you read this, and presumably I will be busy recovering from a massive hangover following a night of booze and retro-gaming with my friends. I’ve successfully avoided thinking about this for a long time by occupying myself with anything from studying to the aforementioned inebriated tomfoolery, but it’s an issue that keeps creeping back into my head, so I might as well address it now: What does it mean to be 20 years old?
For starters, it means that I’m one year older than before, though at the same time I am just one day older than before and an entire decade older than before. At any rate, a significant portion of my life has gone by. The wonders of modern medicine would have me believe that I could live well past 100, but when you factor in my lifestyle, my unhealthy diet, my lack of exercise, my passive smoking and active drinking, suddenly 80 seems like a pretty optimistic guess, which would mean that a quarter of my life is now over. The, by common opinion, best quarter. I have ambivalent feelings about this: On the one hand I wonder if I made the most of the experience, on the other hand the sum of those 20 years alone is overwhelming. The thought that I did, said, felt and saw all these things is surreal and I could spend hours just pondering on the wonders of the past. I can’t begin to imagine what a mindshattering task it must be to carry the memories of 80 years. How merciful of Mother Nature to make us forget.
Just a few hours ago I was a teenager, but now I’ve passed the invisible barrier to the realm of twentysomethings. I assume this new moniker brings a lot of changes I don’t fully appreciate, yet, but what I do know is that this is a time of transition and that, at some unspecified point in the future, I’ll have to become an adult member of society, to put it in general terms, or a man, to specifically address my case. Perhaps I should really rather treat those as two different things, since the recipe for adulthood seems to be a pretty uniform across all borders of gender and sexuality: get a job, find a mate, start monogamous relationship, produce offspring, spend the last precious years of your life sitting on some veranda and tell young whippersnappers to get off your lawn. Some of these points are on my agenda, but I feel glad to note that I will do so whenever the hell I feel like it. The quest for manhood is slightly harder to dismiss, since it’s less about my actions and more about the way people see me. Well, there’s no stopping other people’s gaze.
For the longest time I’ve simply ignored this issue, figuring that if you live by the ideals necessary to make you a good person, becoming a proud exemplar of your gender ought to happen automatically. I’m still convinced that this is a very good attitude to have towards the various stereotypes and social constructs surrounding the issue of gender, but as I’ve learned in my dalliance with pick-up arts, one should never feel above testing a new philosophy. Even if you end up disagreeing with most inherent ideas, merely dealing with the questions behind such ideas can help to advance your own perspective of things. So who am I to simply scoff at the stereotype of manly macho-men when some parts of their codex might be worth considering?
The problem is that the societal image in question is not only subject to a lot of change, but so ambiguously wide that it’s ultimately always necessary to find your own niche (but, really, how else would there be any fun to be had here). I can’t say I’ve had the time to exhaustively consider the subject. I have simply been more conscious of my own actions in the past few weeks, wondering how I’d judge them. This hasn’t brought me any closer to figuring out what kind of person I should be and where exactly being a man figures into this, but I have found more than a few things that most certainly have nothing to do with it. I had an easy time dismissing most of these, even if some of these concepts play an important role in the self-image of a lot of people.
Let’s see. It has nothing to do with alcohol or cigarettes, or any of the other drugs that look so cool and adult to teenage idiots. It’s certainly not about holding your liquor or knowing how to deal with a hangover. It’s not about promiscuity either, nor physical violence, nor “manning up” and ignoring pain, nor being stoic and tight-lipped about feelings, nor about cars, beer and football. Possibly it’s about knowing how to tie a full windsor, or cheering up a kid with a magic trick, or walking away from a fight, or taking the blame for somebody. Maybe it’s about having doing these things and going through these thoughts. What it probably isn’t about is long-winded blog posts.
I felt that this particular occasion called for something deep, long and profound, but to be honest, I got nothing. Fortunately I don’t even have the time to indulge existential queries. There’s a good deal of studying still ahead of me if I intend to make it through this term, and luckily I’ve had the brilliant idea that now would be the perfect time to pick up a bit more responsibility on The Escapist. Then there’s the fact that I haven’t done any for my regular projects in a while, not to mention a certain piece on Gravity Bone that might or might not happen at some point in the future. But that’s all business for tomorrow.
Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a bottle of vodka waiting for me.
Joshua recently took some time to address a crucial question: “Who am I?”. I’ve been asking myself the same question lately. Many things in my life are going to change over the next couple of months and when I walk out of the experience I’ll be changed too, so I’d enjoy being having some sort of static point of reference I can compare myself to. So I’m going to pick up Josh’s idea and take a moment here to think about just who I am. The following is a reflection on the state of Deadpan Lunacy as of March 2011.
So, who am I?
The semester is now starting proper and since I passed the compulsory language test last week I can start my English major at full pace and I think I did a relatively good job fusing German in there. Some parts I’m going to have to leave behind for now because they aren’t available at the right time, but my schedule is still packed relatively tight. The interesting question is when I’ll finally start seeing myself as a student: My last dalliance with academics was phenomenally unsuccessful and while trying to figure out if I had even picked the right direction I didn’t have the time to pick up a new self-image on the way. The the term civil servant took over, quickly followed by slacker, the accurate description of my occupation come last fall. I’m curious how adopting the coffee-sippin’, messenger-bag-wearing, well read elitist lifestyle will go down. I guess we’ll see.
Let’s have a look at how many things I wrote out of free will for non-academic reasons:
A satirical speech on the stranger parts of environmentalism that scored fourth place in a national contest. Not too shabby.
A philosophical essay that earned me a ticket to a national contest followed by another philosophical essay that lost miserably but was prized for originality. I guess that’s what you get for loudly disagreeing with Kant.
Niche Appeal, the obscure review column, 23 entries and counting. Could stand a little improvement.
Everything on this blog. Underwhelming.
My studies are going to force me to catch up on most classic literature I missed so far, so I’ll be more of a reader than a writer the next months. But I don’t want to let this project die during that time. It’s kind of a guilty pleasure. I often come here when I want to stop slacking, but still can’t get myself to do “real” work. In that regard it’s still more productive than the amount of time I waste on TF2 or League of Legends (more on that later), but not as enjoyable. Rearranging my schedule to make this my prime recreational activity is a nice, but probably utopian idea.
Anyway, in order to not just keep at my current level but actually improve, there’s three things I want to do during the next semester:
- Finish Season 2 of Niche Appeal. That means seven more entries before August.
- Produce something outside of self-publishing. Payment is optional, but it will have to meet some editor’s standards. An article for The Escapist would be my favourite thing to pull off, similar sites will do just fine and if none of that works I’ll settle for a guest post on another blog.
- Blog at least once week. The more the better.
I’m aware of the cancerous nature of this term, but I frequently used it in the past. My obsession with video games has shaped me significantly. It was character defining. Maybe it still is, but that possibility now, more than anything else, scares me. I’ve cut down on this part of my life and I’m not sure I’ve gone far enough. On the other hand I don’t want to drop this pastime altogether, so I’ll have to find a way to strike a productive balance. I guess the message here is: This part of my life is getting less and less important to me.
Well at least until the release of Crysis 2.
I’m closing in on my third year anniversary on The Escapist now, but somehow I feel I’ve run out of steam there. The last years have been an engaging, entertaining and educational experience. I’ve met some great people, published a noticeable amount of work and learned a great deal about composition, flow and pace, even though I still struggle to apply these lessons to my craft. But I just don’t know how to follow up my presence there. Three years is a long time and most friends I made on the site have changed the role The Escapist plays in their lives in that time. Some are now moderators. Some post rarely, others not at all. I feel strangely out-of-place there, almost obsolete.
The Escapist served me well because I needed a platform where I could release my reviews without having to meet editorial standards, but now that I have this platform I’ve started wondering what keeps me there. Granted, the place gives me a lot more attention than this small-scale project. Some of my reviews have garnered more views there than this entire blog has altogether, so I doubt I’ll stop releasing Niche Appeal there (Gotta advertise somewhere, right?). But past that there’s really not a lot of unfinished business I have there. I heavily contributed to the growth of the Obscure Games Group, but the thing is still effectively kaput and the same thing can be said for the This Month in Forums publication. I doubt I’ll have to make another contribution as secretary for Review of the Month.
I’ll still keep an eye out on the site, but for now other projects deserve my full attention.
I’m entering a new group of people, it’s high time to make some new friends. This is harder for me than it sounds, I’m not too great with people. So I’ll need to take an effort to meet my new colleagues and at the same time I need to stay in touch with the select few I call my best friends, now spread over several cities and several studies.
That’s one thing. Secondly, and this is probably going to be even trickier, I need to improve my love life. I promise I’m not going into details here. Let’s just say I’ve never had a lasting, meaningful relationship (Take that as you may), and I intend to change that.
There’s some definite room for improvement here and I’m looking forward to returning to this in six months and measuring my success. I stated everything I know of myself here, but I can’t close this introspective yet. I believe that who we believe to be isn’t necessarily who we are. Actions speak louder than words and intentions alone can’t move a single stone. There’s an interesting tidbit I like to keep in mind: The greek word we based “personality” on, “persona”, among other things, means mask. So our personality isn’t necessarily what’s inside of us, but what we show the world. With that in mind I ask you, hypothetical audience: Who am I?