I am 22 years old. The last warm remnant of my teenager-hood is slowly unraveling itself from my mind and floating away deep into to the abyss. Mostly because I have held on to it consciously. In its place, a dark wad of…something has taken residence.
This dark something has been seeping into the most miniscule aspects of my life and wedged itself in large invasive blobs on the wide cavities of being that make my life, a life.
Adulting, we call it.
It has slowly been contaminating anything and everything to do with me and my affairs, and it seems I can do nothing but watch, ball my fists tightly and shriek at the system, or white people, capitalism, my upbringing, or God.
It appears that my three-year tenure as an adult (at least legally) is not at all reconcilable with life as depicted to me by society during my younger years. Growing up, validation and actual success were always murky concepts, with the two often used interchangeably depending on how loudly, say for instance, the kid who lost at a game of tag wailed. Because of this ideological coddling, transitioning to manhood is a bigger nightmare than it has to be.
The rules have changed, dramatically. No longer do we have the luxury of being validated constantly. Losing is now losing and no longer winning perceived differently. Pain is real, present and persistent, gnawing away at all the delusions that used to keep you safe from the monster under your bed.
That monster has crept up from under the bed now, it has instead exploded into a million atoms that blanket almost every aspect of our lives now. That monster is now in the workplace, manifesting as your boss, deadline, and competition. That monster has even infiltrated some parts of you, it goes by the name’s anxiety, low self-esteem, and a dire lack of confidence.
That monster comes at you daily and each day with a renewed sense of strength. The difference between that monster now, and when you were a child it that it was hardly real before and could then be expelled momentarily with a few words of comfort, perhaps even delusion. However, that monster is real now, and no longer cowers when you close your eyes and count to three.
The major problem is that today we seek to deal with suffering by lathering complexity over the delusions that used to keep us safe as children, so they may be reconcilable with the evolved suffering we experience as adults.
I believe in our quest to build a positive relationship with success, happiness and meaning, we have unwittingly and consequently built a hopeless, wildly unrealistic relationship with failure and suffering. This is concerning for quite a number of reasons, but chiefly because, as I have come to understand- we spend more time wrestling with and running from suffering, than we do actually pursuing happiness.
We interact more with grief, than we do with happiness. What we have then opted to do, what our schools, and dishonest guardian figures have taught us to opt to do, is inject life with positivity. In as much as this is not in and of itself a bad thing, obviously, the real danger occurs when we are willing to fabricate this positivity, drain it out of sources that are not sources at all and even scrape it off of the teeth of delusion.
We’re taught that losing is not real and are encouraged to accept that life is a sick virus for which there is no practical cure. We have been taught to absolve ourselves from personal responsibility. Why? Because our suffering can always be blamed on something, someone else.
We could never be responsible for our lives, not in any way that matters, because there is always some oppressive force out there waiting with clenched teeth and crouching just outside the door, waiting to attack.
And so, we are left rotting away, with our creative spirit crushed and stacked away in the basement. All because we have and continue to, downplay competence at the expense of our feelings. Pain is just as real a feeling as bliss and being dishonest in our interaction with suffering helps nobody. Politics that discourages bravery and promotes coercion will be the death of the world.
Tebogo Moatshe is a Libertarian, Anarcho-Capitalist who spends most of his time thinking and writing about ideas. He is a teacher by profession and hopes to inspire rational thought amongst South Africa’s youth.