Being the hero/heroine in your own (big fat selfish?) story

Not that I’m much for perusing the internet in search of intellectual stimulation (due to encountering the opposite phenomenon 99% of the time instead), but I happened to see an article today on “Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy” – found here, if you’re interested. The article isn’t that long and it’s not too much of a revelation, in my opinion, but it’s worth a read for the sake of reflection.

FYI, some technical definitions of terms found in the article:

“Generation Y” = anyone born between the late 70s and early 90s

“Yuppie” = (usually) derogatory term for young urban professionals.

The author goes on to note that there is a dreaded ‘unique brand of yuppie’ whom they have designated a GYPSY: Gen Y Protagonist & Special Yuppie. This poor GYPSY, the author hypothesises (through a bunch of shitty “internet humour” cartoon drawings in some kind of sad attempt to be Hyperbole and a Half), stumbles through life generally miserable because their expectations are too high, their sense of self-importance/self-worth is far too inflated, and their view of life is therefore literally delusional. Unlike anyone else in the history of the world (the author posits), GYPSYs believe that they are the special, important protagonist in their own life story.

HAHAHA I mean isn’t that just CRAZY? Who the hell thinks of themselves as a unique being? Who doesn’t think of themselves as simply a uniform, unoriginal, pointless brick in the long road of human history? They must be sooooo full of themselves, like whoa.

Irritated yet?

If you belong to Gen Y (and many borderlines do) – or even if you don’t – you will likely be feeling as disgruntled as I was with each sentence of this absurdly simplistic article. So pointless. This article can go in the trash along with those idiotic slogans/feel-good posters that seek to transform all of life’s troubles into silly, unnecessary trifles that just need to be magicked away with positive rainbows of simplicity, like the ass-hats in these examples would have you believe…

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ARGH! Life. Is. Not. Simple. Not for anyone. I understand the sentiment here (namely, “Do what you can to simplify life”), but it clearly only goes so far. Real life is full of pesky “complications” – of which mental illness is a HUGE one. Oh and death, violence, cruelty, trauma, disaster, disease, disability, poverty, etc. etc.  But hey, if we drink enough water, eat organic fruit and give lots of hugs, they should all sort themselves out, right?

Come on. 

I used to brood on the fact that life is, for the most part and for most people, a boiling pit of chaos and woe (OK I still do a lot of the time). I see this view of the world as very integral to my BPD: the idea that we are each alone in a little cell of our own consciousness, struggling to make contact of any meaningful kind with others. The problem, as I saw it, with myself and other borderlines is that we seem to be hyper-aware of that depressing reality, and also extremely resistant to the healthy, meaningful relationships that seem to give other people’s lives (as I viewed it) meaning. For this reason, a lot of borderlines waste a lot of time and heartache on really terrible relationships, seeking to capture the meaning that ‘other people’ seem to have via their lovers, spouses, kids, functional families, etc. etc. whatever.

But we’ve got it all backwards, and it takes a lot of work to understand that. The fact is that life is about finding your very own, super personalized meaning in among all the meaninglessness. It’s not selfish. It’s not self-absorbed (or if it is, it shouldn’t be considered a bad thing). Sometimes I think of all the things that supposedly make our little human lives meaningful and think I don’t have them: no sense of a greater calling or what I’m “meant” to be, no relationships that I feel like I’d die without, no one who looks to me for meaning in their own life.

But then, more importantly… so what?

As I progress in my treatment for BPD, I’m learning how to identify and value what is meaningful to me, what gives my hours and days and months meaning. For me, it’s about being healthy and strong. It’s about doing something that I think is soul-enriching at least once a day. It’s about bringing something positive to other people but not getting lost in their identity/wants/needs/etc.  It’s about giving my two cents when I think it matters, even when I feel like there’s no point, just to remind myself that I am entitled to my voice and my thoughts. It’s about finding a sense of community and understanding, even when I have to work pretty hard to find it (and even if that means finding it in people I will never meet, like my favourite authors/poets). And yes, it’s about bigger things like ‘making a difference’ through the long-term paths that I will choose, but to be honest, I’m not even close to considering all that yet because I want to get a handle on the smaller stuff first.

Does all that make me self-absorbed? Wildly ambitious? Delusional? A GYPSY? (Oh and side note: Really? Your little cartoon discussion of your stupid theory wasn’t silly enough, you had to add a racist slur in there as an acronym?) I don’t think it makes me all that different from any other person who ever existed.

There are a variety of reasons and ways that those born into the so-called ‘Generation Y’ are unhappy, stressed, depressed and generally burnt out. But it has way less to do with supposedly being raised with too much focus on self-esteem (which does create incredibly annoying personalities, I’ll grant the author that) and way more to do with the general lack of self-compassion under which virtually everyone – of every generation – is currently suffering. A focus on self – NOT necessarily a focus on ‘self-worth’ and self-absorption – is required to live a happy and healthy life.

After all, if you can’t understand or tolerate (let alone love) your story’s protagonist, then why the hell would you keep reading the book?

 

Cat xxxx

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