Quiet your own voice. Don’t do or say anything even mildly transgressive for fear of looking, sounding, or feeling ridiculous. Don’t make any definitive statements; keep your sketches and bad poetry confined to a journal and shake your head vehemently if someone asks to see. Suppress your good ideas because what, they wouldn’t make a difference anyway. Second guess yourself at every turn and make yourself believe you have nothing to offer.
Have every day, month, and year planned out to the letter — treat life like an endless to-do list and leave no room for deviation. Feel like you always have to be doing “something productive” before you feel like you’re worth anything. Get crushed under the insistent weight of small things. Feel weird about having free time and feel at loss for what to do with yourself when you actually get it.
Have no idea what the hell you’re doing, ever — treat life like a giant question-mark-shaped water slide and slide down it without a prayer. Cave under the unavoidable facts of things; surrender to the vast senselessness of the universe and feel too small, too insignificant and so give up trying and just coast on. Spend melty hours smoking joints making vague plans and nodding in agreement; promptly forget what was said the next day.
Go out all the time because being alone in an empty house makes you feel stagnant and cold-sweaty. Purge your thoughts and feelings, drug your frustration drown your apprehension and repeat the tired “you only live once” mantra to make yourself feel less thrown. Put your own goals on the back burner and promise yourself tomorrow to block out the sticky vagueness of subterranean anxiety.
Stay in all the time because going out takes too much effort and there’s nothing new to see out there anyway. Plod around in dirty PJs from the sunken couch to the kitchen and back, turn on the TV and flip through the channels hating absolutely everything even though you’ve got a half-finished novel or project sitting right there, but meh. Sigh and chew something without tasting it, drop your feet on the table so heavily your heels hurt.
Have a type and stick to it. Only read books that agree with your ideology, only date people who share your background, opinions, interests, and schedule. Treat potential partners less like people and more like furniture; judge them on how well they fit into your life and complement what you’ve done with it. Stop being curious and start feeling very tired and fed up.
Buy into things. Take advice from self-righteous self-help books and diets that tell you to eat less fruit and more chemical protein powder. Follow trends, adhere to standards, bleach your teeth your hair and your asshole because that’s what it takes to be attractive, maybe. Get personally involved in people who have no knowledge of or interest in you whatsoever. Buy clothes that don’t even fit, sweat and ache over them and curse your genetics and your higher power.
Categorize and trivialize. Classify yourself and everyone, stay tight in your comfort zone and be the first to point a finger at people who move from theirs. Reduce human expression and emotion to gifs and blanket statements, drop things you don’t understand instead of trying to understand them, rely on cards to express your sentiments and songs to express your feelings. Buy everything pre-made and pre-packaged because you’re too damn busy to create your own life. Forget what handwriting looks like. Forget what ecstasy feels like. Forget you are capable.