Move back in with your parents and haunt your hometown like a very sad ghost—the kind of ghost that cuts themselves with a dull razor blade because they don’t want to do any real damage, and gets Further Seems Forever lyrics tattooed on their wrist. Treat your hometown like it’s a decayed museum full of broken artifacts. Sincerely believe that you can resurrect certain memories if you visit their origin and think about them hard enough. “This matters to me now because it mattered to me then…”
Make sad Facebook updates and tag unflattering pictures of yourself drinking at your hometown bar knowing full well that your friends are going to be judging you. They’re going to be sitting in their grown up apartments with their grown up jobs and they’re going to feel flashes of pity go through their young professional work clothes for you. Maybe they’ll even text a mutual friend something like, “Um, have you seen so-and-so’s Facebook lately? WTF are they doing? Have you spoken to them?” A part of you feels incredibly embarrassed that your life has been reduced to this but another part feels so freaking liberated. When you bring your life down to the depths of nothingness, you have nowhere to go but up. Up, up, up.
Think back to all the interviews you’ve read with famous musicians and actors who said things like, “Before my big break, I had no money and didn’t know a soul in the city. Sometimes I wouldn’t leave my apartment for weeks.” Find it very hard to believe that someone like Patti Smith wouldn’t leave their apartment for weeks and had no friends but take solace in reading the words anyway. People go through hard times and feel completely alienated from their surroundings. Figure that this is your time to do that. This is your Patti Smith time and in a few years when you’re famous and rich, you can tell interviewers, “After graduating, I moved home and had no friends. I had no money. I barely left the house. It was a terrible time and I wasn’t sure I’d ever get out of it.” Play these pretend interviews over and over again in your head and smile softly to yourself.
Date someone who’s terribly ugly and post pictures of the two of you making out on Facebook with the caption: “me n mi boo!!!” Have your friends in Chicago, San Francisco, and New York call you immediately and express concern. “Who is this person you’re dating? Why didn’t you tell me?! Why do they look like the Loch Ness Monster?!” Okay, they don’t say that last part but you know that’s what they’re thinking. Respond politely to all of their questions and then turn off your phone. The truth is that you don’t know why you’re dating this person you have no physical attraction to. But maybe you’re doing it because it’s unexpected and will piss people off. It will cause them to reevaluate their opinion of you. You can imagine your friends talking about you over drinks at some overpriced bar whispering, “I just don’t know what happened. They’re living back at home and dating this person who literally looks like a gremlin. Have I shown you?” And they’ll laugh and laugh at your expense, all while claiming to still love you. But they don’t. They’re just thankful they’re not you. They’ll need you forever now just so they can always feel good about themselves. So what do you do in retaliation to their judginess? Post ANOTHER picture of you and your Loch Ness Monster with the caption: NO APOLOGIZES. OUR LOVE IS FOR REAL….” Screw it. If you’re going to get Judge Judy’d, you might as well go big.
Stop leaving a digital trail of everything you’re doing. People already think you’ve gone off the deep end but if you stop tweeting and going on Facebook, they’ll actually think you’ve died or at least gone to rehab. After a few weeks of complete digital silence, get a text from someone asking if you’re okay. Decide to call them and sound enthusiastic and healthy on the phone. Claim to have completely forgotten about the Internet for a sec. Your friend will be creeped out but also sort of jealous. You were able to go off the grid and do your own thing while they remained a slave to all of these electronic devices. They’ll wonder if you’re the one who’s actually figured out how to lead a happy life. They did the “right” thing by moving to a big city after college and networking but deep down they feel kind of empty, no matter how much money they blow at brunch on Sunday. And, sure, you seem sad and pathetic moving back to the town everyone else forgot about it but you actually seem happier than anyone else they know. So, in a weird way, you might be the one everyone starts to envy.
Moving back to your hometown, working a lame job, dating Chewbacca, and deleting your Facebook: these are all things that one might consider to be a bad decision. They raise an eyebrow and cause people to label you a failure. You fell through the post grad cracks and we have the Facebook pictures to prove it! But in reality, the things you do to screw your life up might end up being the things that ultimately repair it. By officially deciding to not give a crap, you’ve given yourself the gift that very few have, which is total and complete freedom. Go you.