Frida Kahlo to Marty McConnell in a letter. Such beautiful advice. (via the-owls-are-not-what-they-seem)
I’m not sure why, but when I conjure up the image of my idealized self, it’s always miserable somehow. Someone told me once that Abraham Lincoln was ‘melancholy’ but it was acceptable because back then, being depressed meant you were smart. I don’t know if that’s true or not. I don’t think it’s really the point.
I’ve always admired tragic figures, people who paint morality with a gray brush, the bad guy. When I was 5, I wanted to be like Darth Vader. At 11, a suburban upper middle class white girl, I somehow really connected with Eminem’s lyrics-the violent, the angry, the cruel. In high school, my favorite book was The Picture of Dorian Gray and I was in love with Sid Vicious and Pete Doherty.
The characters I wrote were all angelic, quiet European boys who had a lot of sex, drank a lot of booze, and wantonly hurt people’s feelings almost out of habit. I was fascinated by narcissists, and began to surround myself with them in real life in the hope that their affectations would rub off on me. It became this bizarre situation where I’d begin friendship after friendship knowing that the other person was full of shit, but feeding into it anyway, knowing that it would buy me their affection. And in the end, the narcissist would inevitably get sick of me and leave, and I’d be sad, wondering why I couldn’t wield the same power I’d let them have over me.
With each iteration of the theme, however, my image of how I wanted to be solidified even as my sense of self dissipated: why couldn’t I do what they did? I wanted that dark magnetism, to give off that aura of not-giving-a-fuck. I wanted to be sure that I was great—even if I wasn’t—and pull people into my circle of influence so I could crush them when they were no longer useful to me. I wrote tens of thousands of words dedicated to this theme, about men like the ones I’d known, crushing girls and boys like me, and it was never whitewashed: they were miserable, self-loathing, horrible sons-of-bitches. I knew all too well that narcissism and insecurity are two inseparable sides of the same coin made of fool’s gold. But they were also magnetic. It was easy to see how they were great, why people would try to get close to that. I could write it, but I could not be it.
And even now, I can see in my mind what I should do. I should forsake all my friends as rudely as possible and channel an amphetamine addiction into going to an ivy league grad school. I should fuck people and refuse to answer their calls. I should drink and read and be miserable. I should get a job propping up the capitalist structures I hate, exploit them to my benefit, and laugh at people who call me on my hypocrisy because I can afford to and they can’t. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.
The thing I can’t figure out is why I think being miserable will make me happy. Maybe it’s that I know I can’t ever really be happy, and what I really want is to be something great and something loathed, because those are real things with assignable value. But it’s just as impossible as looking in the mirror and seeing someone of value staring back at me.
I’m not a narcissist. I’m not a heartless ice queen.
I’m just regular, plain old sad.
I tend to screw myself over at every turn, subconsciously. I’m afraid of making any decisions because I’m pretty sure it’s going to be the wrong one. So I wind up doing nothing, which just screws me over again.
I’ve made too many mistakes. I’ve fucked too many things up. I think I’ve devalued myself. I’m no longer really capable of or the right fit for what I thought “success” would look like.
One of my favorite authors once wrote that any war can be won, you just have to redefine the parameters for winning. I’m not really sure what definition I need. Just surviving doesn’t really feel like winning to me.