There’s a reason My So-Called Life and Freaks and Geeks are such eternally beloved untouchable TV treasures — they show what high school is really like! And specifically, for girls. If you are a 16-year-old girl, slowly melting in the pitiless cauldron that is high school, suddenly wanting to kiss boys and date them instead of sticking your tongue out at them or avoiding their cooties, but not really sure you really want that or if so, with whom and how and it’s kind of scary, and they are just as into to the idea of kissing you, or else they’re not, in which case you likely have a raft of body-image or self-confidence issues and life is an actual hell, and boys, no matter how cute, are typically gross or awkward at all times, and it’s like kind of an irresolvable bummer — that’s not exactly fun! It’s also a time when you might inexplicably go goth for a few months and read Marily Manson’s Long Hard Road Out Of Hell and adorn yourself in Hot Topic bracelets and cut yourself and wear black jeans so wide-leg it looks like you sewed two camping tents together. Or you might start siphoning wine and brandy off the top of your parents’ liquor collection every morning before school and brag about it to other, largely disinterested students. You might lose your virginity to a pale, rod-thin windsail of a boy with Calvin and Hobbes hair whose lovemaking method resembles a woodpecker on meth. You might start uncontrollably resenting your parents and picking dumb fights with them. You might develop severe acne all over your body. You might die in a car accident driving home drunk from Beth’s house. Point is, it can suck.
When you’re a 12-year-old boy you’re basically a belligerent, incorrigible, whiny rodent of a human. You might have started masturbating by this point, but you definitely don’t fully understand what that thing is down there or what it’s supposed to do, just that it seems very needy and attention-hungry. You might have irregular hygiene habits. You might wear stained oversized t-shirts. You might spend several hours a day rolling in actual mud. To be honest, I was more the type who didn’t even want to sit on grass for fear of grass stains, so yes I was another flavor of 12-year-old dumbass boy. But anyway, 12-year-old boys can’t drive, they can’t pick up a girl and take her to the movies. They haven’t started getting in shouting matches with their parents yet but have passed the age where whatever Mom and Dad say is more or less law. They’re confused and likely feel ineffective, out of place, a shiny new screw with useless thread.
Being a 40-year-old man is frustrating because you’re not old enough for anyone to pity you or grant you any extraneous favors, there’s no “Hi I see you dropped a pen and are having trouble bending far enough to retrieve it,” but you have nonetheless passed on from “Oh God, I’m 30, do I have my life together, am I married, what?” to “I have a family, somehow, and a mortgage and car payments, and my sex drive is slowly suffocating from lack of oxygen (wife) and at the same time, I’m still attracted to girls my daughter’s age, this is troubling.” If you’re lucky you’re kind of a timeless hunk and still look good, which is quite the luxury, but most likely there’s not a lot you can do about it. You’re tied down, you have responsibilities, and unless you’re part of that uber-lucky percent who do what they love, you’ve made the mature, soul-deadening decision to find a reliable way to make a big amount of money. Bummer.
Do I even need to explain this? Society is basically a big, creepy complete asshole to women in general, but specifically women are brainwashed — or bravely fight off the brainwash — to think that they need to be married, pregnant, and on the administrative board of a Fortune 500 company by the age of 30 with a book deal and a movie based on their lives. It’s not realistic, and it makes many women feel terrible and confused. One of the strongest pressures is to be married and have kids, and I think it’s sad how pervasive the pressure is and how many people settle for someone they’re not excited about just so they can achieve what they’ve been led to think of as goals on a checklist. It’s not their fault, in a sense. The pressure is on screens, big and small, in print, in their best friends’ mouths, their mothers’ mouths, and maybe, sooner or later, their own. This is not to say marriage or children or a good career at a young age are bad goals or that you should be an asexual career backpacker in Thailand, just that what should be a birthday becomes instead about as much fun as defending a thesis in front of colleagues and advisers who seem to hate you!
At any moment in your life, no matter your gender, your race, how pretty or not, no matter how much money you have or your family has, you can justifiably feel frustrated or even miserable. Everything costs money, everyone is telling you what you’re supposed to be doing. But I’ll come along to say, food for thought, it doesn’t matter what you do. Doesn’t seem to make sense, right? Well of course you need to make the right decisions, you need to be respected, or you need your parents’ approval and attention, or you need that boy to be your boyfriend. You need the right clothes, you need the right friends, the right career, the best vacation. Of course, yeah, but no. Your perspective, more than anything, defines your reality. I’m as dumb as they come, I’m still relatively young. I have no wisdom but join me in trying — emphasis on trying — to control how we think of what we do. And be there for doing it. Whatever you’re doing, maybe try thinking I am doing this. And what does that do for you? The awareness, the mindfulness, of what you do at every moment, can help you to stop seeing each age, and each thing you do or don’t do, as signposts along a highway to goal city, to some kind of heaven where sex drips like honey, respect is guaranteed, and the money trees form a vast forest. I repeat, you don’t have to do anything. What you do at any moment, at any age, is what you are doing. It is no more or less than that. Anyone can advise you, and an experienced elder person or a holy book (religious or not) might aid you, or a lover who likewise teaches you, inadvertently or not, to see, but that’s it. There’s no answer to the frustration but to not see it as such. Wherefore frustration? It’s gone, I’m typing a blog post.