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  • Susmita

The Privilege of Being Young and Stupid

Hey so it’s been a hot minute. I have been dealing with a lot of work and I have been sick for the past two weeks so yeah, I haven’t been super on top of this blog. Nevertheless, I have not disappeared so here’s another post :D.

So as I’m wrapping up my final year of college, I do find myself going through this period of reflection, much of which is wrapped up in this sense of mourning regarding my life in the last few years. Just for a brief overview, the first year and a half of my college experience consisted of me dealing with childhood trauma as well as a bunch of physical and mental health issues. The moment I started feeling better, the pandemic hit. Then the next year and a half consisted of me being confined in my house and eventually having to take a break from school all together because my physical and mental health started getting bad again. Next thing I know, three years flew by I was a senior in college. A large chunk of my senior year has consisted of me having to pick up the pieces of the shit show my life has been due to the pandemic. And though I will say that I am in a much better place physically and emotionally, I did find myself mourning a lot of the experiences that I missed out on due to my health conditions and the condition of the world.

There is a part of me that feels like I missed out on thriving in college, getting amazing grades, building a group of life long friends, getting involved on campus, having work experience as a TA, intern, researcher etc. But I’m not going to talk about that part in today’s post. Today, I’m going to talk about how there has been a weird impulse in me to go absolutely bat shit crazy and make every bad decision possible to where my life look like an episode of Euphoria.

I say this is an impulse because while I do have the intrusive thoughts pushing me in that direction, I know myself and I know that me doing all of these crazy things wouldn’t resonate with me and wouldn’t make me feel good in the slightest. In my mind, while I have this impulse to have this “party phase”, I know myself and I know how I generally don’t even like loud places or the taste of alcohol. I have this impulse to sleep around but I have no desire to act on it because I know deep down inside that this isn’t what I want. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with going out and sleeping around, I just know those things aren’t for me and that it is likely not coming from the healthiest, most authentic place personally. And with that being said, here are a couple of things that I have identified through me reflecting on this subject matter.

1) Being Asian American

I feel that one of the things that really impacted my sense of self is the whole thing regarding on how Asian people are the “model minority.” The whole concept is absolutely bullshit because it’s basically a stereotype created to divide Asian people and pit them against Black and Hispanic people in the U.S. so that white people can point to a demographic and say “look at these people thriving, why can’t yall pull yourself up from your bootstraps” even through the conditions that Black and Hispanic people have been put through are systemically different than that of Asian people in the U.S. There is simply a different history and comparing different communities up against each other is nothing but comparing apples to oranges. Additionally, this screws over Asian people because our struggles aren’t taken seriously and it glosses over a variety of issues that affect out communities.

Macro issues aside, I think where this personally starts affecting me is the need to be competent and high achieving. It’s as if my achievements aren’t something to congratulate rather it’s simply and expectation or norm. When you fall short, even a little, it can feel devastating. But if you meet those expectations, whether it’s getting straight A’s, getting into a top university, becoming a doctor, lawyer, etc, it can sometimes be underwhelming. For me personally, I have a lot of issues with recognizing and celebrating my achievements because even if they look impressive on the outside, I personally feel like I’m simply doing the bare minimum. It’s nothing impressive.

As a result, I feel like I don’t have much of a margin of error. From a very young age, I felt like I needed to have it all figured out and not waste time in pursuing career goal. I don’t feel like I can learn through making mistakes and failing because of the way that it is often received in my community. Especially coming from a South Asian household, let’s just say that gossip goes around quickly and saving face is second nature. We don’t encourage vulnerability rather we sweep things under the rug because not doing that invites in the scrutiny and judgement of others. I often felt the need to sit on the side lines and learn from other people’s mistakes so that I don’t make my own. I don’t think this is a bad thing, after all the saying does go along the lines of “a smart person learns from their mistakes but a wise person learns from other people’s.” I think observing and thinking through things saved me a lot of difficult situations I would have otherwise faced. But just because you can think 20 steps ahead, doesn’t always mean that your heart is aligned with that. Which brings me to my next point:

2) Being Appropriately Naïve

There have been many instances in therapy where I have joked about how my head is smart and can think through things critically but my heart on the other hand… well… it takes her a minute to get with the program. And it took me years to realize this but I think this is part of being appropriately naïve. I know there is this whole predatory thing about how some girls are “mature for their age” which is used to justify older men preying on them. While I’m not going to get into the predatory aspects here, I want to unpack the whole thing behind being mature for your age. Because I do think it can be a thing, especially if you were exposed to a lot of responsibilities and adult issues growing up that you had to learn to navigate at a much younger age than many of your peers. But in the end of the day, a mature child is still a child and it’s very likely that they gained that maturity through inappropriate means since they were put in situations that were not developmentally appropriate.

For me, not only was I put in some of those situations that stopped me from having a light hearted, carefree childhood, I had to think through and navigate difficult situations without proper guidance or my own life experiences guiding me. Even though I made it through the other side by making good choices that I’m grateful to this day, I wish that I had a softer place to land and that I didn’t have to go through a lot of things alone. I don’t feel regret for these choices. If I were to go back in time to those same situations, I would have done the same things because I did what was best for me. Rather than regret, I feel this sense of mourning where I wish had the opportunity to mentally been more naïve. I think that this restless feeling I have in myself to go out and make stupid choices despite the lack of regret I have for making good choices in the past is a symptom of my inner teenager wanting to just be. It goes back to the notion of being a mature child. Yes, my head is 20 steps ahead and is good at making good decisions, but my heart, she isn’t just slow to get with the program, she’s appropriately naïve. And I believe this gap between being appropriately naïve emotionally and knowing better mentally is this feeling of mourning and restlessness.

3) Being Surrounded by White Privilege

I am going to a very rich, wealthy, white, conservative private university. Often times, I do find myself envying these rich white kids. It isn’t the porches they drive to school or the Lululemon outfits they wear on a daily basis, or the Gucci belts. It’s the security and peace of mind they have to just not give a fuck. There are people who I’ve encountered on campus who can’t grasp how much of a financial burden college can be for the average person in the U.S. because of the money they come from and because everyone else in their bubble of a community comes from similar means. There are people who I know that if they lost their scholarships, got a dui, got arrested, or got into credit card debt that they would be fine because they will still have a job after college due to connections. If any one of those things happened to me, I’d be fucked. And I’m not even a low income person. I am upper middle class but I have grown up in a lower middle class area that emphasized taking financial responsibility from a young age. A lot of the people I knew in high school were paying their own phone bills, their own car payments, sometimes helping out will the bills, paying for their own entertainment and thing they want. And while I wasn’t in that camp, when I did go to college and was surrounded by a very different class of people, it felt very strange to say the least. The lack of responsibility that some people exhibited not only felt reckless but felt emotionally stunted.

This especially hit me hard in the pandemic. The pandemic impacted people of color and poor people disproportionately. For the wealthy and white, the pandemic was simply a minor inconvenience. It shocked me on how quick a lot of these people were to move on when I’m still picking up the pieces of my life. Especially when it came to partying and doing reckless things, despite a pandemic happening, it was business as usual for this demographic. Now, for my situation on the other hand, I was living with my parents who are both immunocompromised and who took a very substantial cut to their income. I know that if I ever contracted COVID and I possibly gave it to my parents, it would be the end for them. I couldn’t just go out and have fun and just not give a fuck because I can directly see the consequences of my actions. I can’t just be young and stupid and have fun like a lot of my peers.

4) Being Drawn to Cassie from Euphoria and Lana Del Rey

Ok, so this isn’t so much of a factor, rather it is an observation I have made of myself and I think it transitions well from what I wrote about white privilege above. While I haven’t gotten around to watch Euphoria, I have seen enough memes and commentary to get a basic sense of what happens and the basic character arcs. Out of all of the characters, I find myself being drawn to Cassie. It isn’t so much because of but because of how absolutely unhinged her character is (also Sydney Sweeny is an incredible actor and did an amazing job of portraying how bat shit her character is). I get so much second hand embarrassment from Cassie to where it’s addicting. It’s like the same kind of satisfaction you get from watching Jerry Springer and you start to feel like you have your life together more. There is a clip on YouTube from the season finale and I rewatched this so many times because it was watching a horrific car wreck.

I suppose I admire on how unapologetically insane this character is because it’s a side of myself that I don’t really get to embrace. I wish I had the room to be a bit of a mess without feeling like I’m flushing my life down the toilet. This is also the reason why I find myself drawn to Lana Del Rey’s music. I remember seeing a tiktok from a while back it was along the lines of a Hispanic girl saying how she’s not into Lana Del Rey in a daddy issues, old Hollywood way, rather it’s more of a wishing you could be seen through the lens of delicateness that white femininity is portrayed in and feeling the free spiritedness of Americana that you don’t get to embrace fully as a daughter of immigrants. There is also a tweet that I saw years ago from a South Asian meme account that was along the lines of “Lana Del Rey makes me feel like the reckless rebellious white girl I never was.” And honestly, in both instances my brown ass felt personally attacked.

5) Being Tired of Working on Myself

Finally, another big factor regarding why I want to go on this rampage has to do with how much I have been working on myself for the last few years (hence the opening meme). I have been going to therapy, been keeping up with school, incorporating healthy habits, and basically been trying my best to be a better version of myself. And while I feel like I have made great progress, sometimes I feel like I haven’t been getting the fruits of my labor because a lot of the wins that I have, they aren’t exactly things that I can show off externally. As a result, sometimes it feels like I have been stagnating because I am not seeing my progress materialistically manifest. This then leads to this sense of burn out because you’re putting in all of this work and you aren’t getting the amount of output you are expecting. Now a lot of this does have to do with the fact that I was in my house for a year and half so as result, most of the work I have done on myself has been mainly internal and the external stuff has been delayed. However, my little lizard brain doesn’t see that. My little lizard brain sees a lack of progress and wants to throw up it’s hands and say “what’s the point of doing all of this work.” I know that a lot of the work that I’m putting into myself is the right thing to do and I know that future me is really going to thank me, but for now, I still feel burnt out and mildly depressed.

I see other people being depressed and not giving a care in the world regarding working on themselves and thinking through their actions / self reflecting. And honestly, it feels like we're in the same plave but at the same time they seem to be living more exciting and eventful lives. Sure it’s crazy shit that I wouldn’t want to get involved with, but there is this part of me that wished that my craziness and neurosis manifested in me being like Maddy from Euphoria. Instead, I'm Coconut Head from Ned’s Declassified School survival guide. I try to stay positive and have my little healthy coping mechanisms but I still get hit with waves of bad luck and I have an unfortunate haircut.I feel like it would just be more interesting to go on a rampage instead of being anxious and taking a depression nap. And because I haven’t gotten to this point of fulfillment I through I would’ve gotten by now, part of me just wants to be like “fuck it.” But also, I’m in too deep into this work to where I don’t think I can be quite as unhinged lol.

But yeah, those are some of the thoughts I have about my impulses on going out and being unhinged. I think especially given on how my college experience has been and how I felt this need to be responsible, vigilant, and self-aware all the time, I think I need room to just enjoy myself and cut myself some slack. Of course I’m going to still take accountability for my actions and not do anything reckless, but I do think that going out a little bit more often and just giving myself the space to enjoy life is essential for me right now. It’s an itch that I need to scratch and it’s an indication that I need to be more gentle with myself by allowing myself to not know all of the answers and sit with the dysfunction and confusion at times. And at times I think it can be quite beneficial to take a step back from working on yourself, both to give yourself a break and acknowledge how far you've come so it doesn't turn into a constant hamster wheel of self improvement to where you don't enagage with life.

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