A couple days ago I was shuffling through the (ridiculous amount of) music on my phone when I ran across what I had, on numerous occasions over the past several years, called a sort of theme song for my life. At once a declaration of exasperation and hope (towards present pitfalls and future triumphs, respectively), All Time Low’s “Weightless” encapsulated well the way I felt whenever I would fail to achieve the many goals I set for improving my life. The song’s optimistic chorus, which begins “Maybe it’s not my weekend, but it’s gonna be my year” resonated strongly; yet by year three, the optimism was empty; the certainty that the bad would turn around: anything but certain.
Life has been good lately, and so I came quite close to skipping past “Weightless” when it came on, thinking of it as a relic of some bygone and happily-forgotten era of my life, a thing to which I had once related, but (happily) would no longer. But I didn’t skip it. And as I listened, I began to realize my graduation celebration had come a bit prematurely; I wasn’t onto the next track. I had merely made it to the second verse.
All Time Low – “Weightless”
Manage me, I’m a mess.
Turn a page, I’m a book half unread.
I wanna be laughed at, laughed with just because
I wanna feel weightless.
And that should be enough.
But I’m stuck in this fucking rut,
Waiting on a secondhand pick-me-up
And I’m over getting older.
If I could just find the time,
Then I would never let another day go by.
I’m over getting old.
And maybe it’s not my weekend
But it’s gonna be my year
And I’m so sick of watching while the minutes pass and I go nowhere.
And this is my reaction to everything I fear
‘Cause I’ve been going crazy.
I don’t wanna waste another minute here.
Anyone familiar with my life for the last several years can appreciate the aptness of all that. My life was the perfect image of stagnation, and time and again I would make excuses for the failure to go anywhere. I really was in a rut. My rut’s name was “Pawling,” and frankly, the profanity fits the frustration I felt towards being in that rut. Even as I wasted time I lamented not having the time. I committed to changing my life tomorrow — and of course, tomorrow never comes. Which is why, of course, no weekend was my weekend, and the year that would have been mine never arrived.
Until this year. Or, more accurately, until last year, when I began to make proactive choices which led to where I am this year. And while there were some parts of the early 2013 I’m not proud of, I feel confident that this is, especially in a comparative sense, “my year.”
So flash forward, and I’m here, a graduate student. But in many ways the naive, immature person who preferred having a catchy pop song to relate to over worrying about the implications thereof, has lingered. He and I are in an outright fight to the death. And I don’t think I realized that until this week, and tonight in particular, as I listened again to the song while reflecting on the night’s class and subsequent bus ride, wherein I — or he — outright dominated the so-called discourse. He is the Adam who does NOT know how to shut. the hell. up.
I wrote, several years back, about the surreal effect I’ve experienced wherein I feel like I’ve lost agency over my own behavior, and I sit, mouth agape, watching myself say or do things that I want to stop, am almost screaming at myself to please stop, and yet despite this being me we’re talking about, who wants me to stop… I don’t. Times like this my eyes wander even as my mouth moves. I can see the rolled eyes. I can see the people whose looks communicate to one another “here he goes again.” I hear the person I just interrupted, again, and I hear the unspoken curses nested in the tight corners of the forced smile they feign to stop themselves from reaching across the table and slapping me.
It occurs to me that it would likely be better if I truly were just completely oblivious — if I had a degree of plausible deniability, and honestly didn’t know that I was behaving in unacceptable ways. Not only could this be used to excuse it — he’s socially inept — but it would save me the added frustration (added, that is, to my own self-criticism) of wondering just how many conversations have been had between peers about how obnoxious I tend to be. It’s one thing to be paranoid that people dislike you or speak ill of you. But this is something else; this is a full-fledged awareness that I do things for which I ought to be disliked or ostracized. That phantom me on the periphery wants to stick around after I leave so that when someone says “I thought he’d never stop talking” he can say “I know, tell me about it!”
Of course one of the issues, the one I have no doubt I subconsciously cling to and use to justify my impropriety, is that on occasion someone will compliment one of my diatribes or tell me I’d more or less spoken their mind. And so while I’m off in the corner of my mind discussing with half the class how much I wouldn’t mind if Adam suddenly lost his tongue, someone’s telling me they can’t get over “how smart you are.”
Make believe that I impress,
That every word, by design, turns a head.
…yeah, make believe.
Make believe that I’m half as smart or put together as those folks seem to think. Because it’s simply not true. And if you need proof, you need look no further than the faces of the people in the room.
Perhaps it’s my social ineptitude — or my seeming inability (is it merely refusal?) to take the reins and make myself less impudent — that has led me to live such an introverted life. As much as I love being around and talking with people, I have tendencies which invariably drive people away. Once more with paranoia, it’d be unreasonable for most people to constantly wonder whether they’d said or done something to make someone avoid them. But me? I can point to specific, empirical evidence in the form of a dozen shattered friendships I broke by clinging to too tightly.
I have trouble letting things go — not for good, but just in general. I like being sure. I like knowing what happened, what’s happening, what is supposed to happen next. I don’t jump from one rock to the next; I slowly shift my weight from one foot to the other, lifting only when I’m sure I’m on stable ground. I don’t do well with uncertainty. But my neediness in that regard means I rarely leave the ground.
Verse 2, continued:
I wanna feel reckless,
Wanna live it up just because.
I wanna feel weightless,
‘Cause that would be enough.
I’ve said it to folks but I don’t think most people understand the extent to which the trip I took with some new friends a few weeks ago was extraordinarily beyond my typical comfort zone. I did not know where we were going. I didn’t even really know who was going. I didn’t know where we’d stay, or what we were going to do. Yet despite so many years of assuring myself that leaving the ground would most likely result in pain upon landing, I jumped anyway.
This could be all I’ve waited for.
This could be everything!
I don’t wanna dream anymore.
I’ll be honest. Blogs like this one? I’m not sure which Adam writes them. Is it the one who’s excited about making progress, overcoming shortcomings, pulling the zipper across my lips? Or is this in some convoluted way the utmost of narcissism, a meta-faux pas? Does it engender empathy, or merely exacerbate the problems?
All I can really do is be optimistic and take solace in whatever value sheer honesty may be said to have. If it turns out that someone I’ve been driving away is encouraged to know that I’m aware of my unsavory idiosyncrasies, cool. They might rightly point out that recognizing a problem and actually solving it are hardly the same thing. And to that I can simply say I’ve made a lot of progress recently — a lot more, in fact, than most of the previous three or four years combined can boast. I’m still making a lot of mistakes.
Maybe it’s not my weekend.
But it’s gonna be my year.