#OurWorld: The Sham of Adulthood

Sam av
I keep a series of rants on my Facebook. They’re just what they seem…it’s when the urge to write collides with my sense of outrage. Since I mentioned this particular incident in my video today, and I wrote this rant on my Facebook also today, I figured it would be a good time to just put this up here. I think the message is important, and this is all that’s currently on my mind. Today was supposed to be another politics day, but they’re related topics.

—-
I had an incident yesterday that hit pretty much every single one of my triggers and the ensuing rage resulted in a purge of more than 100 Facebook friends. Some of them were family. Some friends. Some were just people I knew had said some shit in the past so heinous I had considering deleting them right then and probably should have. I hang onto people like this because I generally believe that it’s important to stay informed. They disagree with me, so I should keep them nearby to understand their perspectives.

To understand the full ferocity of exactly what occurred, I need to take a step back into my childhood and set this scene.

I had a stormy childhood. My parents divorced when I was in fifth grade and I was the middle child. My brother and sister handled this differently than me. I won’t tell you their stories because their stories are theirs. What I will tell you is that I was The Middle in every sense of the word. I was between every single conflict that occurred with my family. If you know me at all, you know that I am an observant, inquisitive person with a heart that frequently bleeds for the pain of others. I hate to see people upset, and I’ll often sacrifice my own feelings and absorb their pain into myself. I am a tough cookie. Usually, I can handle doing that.

However, there were more adults in my life than simply my parents. I had a lot of extra Moms (and Dads). I had a fantastic mom, actually. I didn’t really need another one or anything, but my mother was going through her own set of struggles – heartbreak, credit destruction, depression, divorce – and I didn’t feel like I should interrupt her internal world of hurt for childish foibles back then. So I set myself up with a lot of other strong, kind women to stand-in for her while I was growing up. I had an amazing aunt and uncle, several friends’ mothers, one of my bosses, and many teachers.

I have always been too smart for my own good. No, I am not tooting my own horn. Believe me when I say that this has more often been a curse than a blessing. I didn’t do well with friends my own age. Most of my friends were older, many of them adults. I paid close attention to people and their struggles because of the position I was in, so I gained a lot of personal experience with people. What came of this mostly was that I can usually find the benefit of the doubt there somewhere, and you have seen that in my posts and notes. I want – desperately – to hate people. But I can’t. Because nearly every single person is a complex compendium of experiences and struggles all their own. So when a person upsets me, I find ways to justify their behavior, and I can let it go.

As I grew up, I learned. A lot. I asked questions people didn’t want to answer and I made statements and made advice no one thought I was ready for. All my life I have been shot down with “Because I said so” and “I’m older and wiser than you” and “You don’t know any better.” The adults in my life drilled my head with promises that someday I would be older and I’d understand that things weren’t the way I saw them now. It was like…some kind of warning that one day I’d learn to hate the same people for the same reasons as they did? Or that I’d somehow one day disprove my own convictions and learn to be less kind.

But I haven’t. Honestly, none of my core values have changed. I still see people this same way. I still impose myself between the downtrodden and the aggressors. I still sacrifice pieces of myself to please others. At times, this gets to be so bad that I crash, and I crash hard. It’s incredibly painful to be this way. Right now I look out upon the world and all I see is a future of blood and ashes. Everywhere you turn, there’s just hate, hate, hate. Labels and categories and reasons assigned to despise a person that have no foundation in facts and really just come from the gut.

I’m twenty-eight now. I’m the adult. I’m roughly the same age as the people who taught me to be a good human. It dawned on me when my niece was born that it has now become my responsibility to build good humans in the world like my set of Moms (and Dads) did for me. I have to be the example. I have to explain why things are the way things are when they don’t make any sense.

I won’t say “Because I said so.” I promised this to myself growing up. Back then, I really did want to know Why. I won’t make this mistake with today’s children.

And I won’t say “I’m older and therefore wiser than you are.” Not ever. Because what I have learned about my parents is that they weren’t always wiser than I was. In some cases, they weren’t even close. And I’m not naive enough to believe I know everything. I love a well-crafted debate. I cherish those moments when I am effectively proven wrong. I look forward to being challenged by the perceptions of today’s youth. They’re brilliant and energetic, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with in the decades to come.

Age does not confer wisdom. They are often correlated, true. But the adults in my life, for the most part, have not left Leelanau County for as long as I have been alive. World experience has to be gained out in the world.

So. The Incident.

Poor-shaming is one of my hottest buttons. I simply can’t stand by and hear it. I grew up poor. My parents worked their asses off and taught me the work ethic that has driven my every action. My siblings and I are hard workers who don’t call in sick and don’t slack off. All of us have gone through times in our lives when we had to find new jobs and new places to live. There isn’t much to be had. The difference between wages and rent in the area is crippling. We’ve all gone through low points where there seems to be no point in even living. Every day we work for the majority of our time. All of the money goes to bills.

That isn’t life.

And it doesn’t matter if that’s the life you knew. That doesn’t make it right. There exist entertainment and life’s simple pleasures for a reason. We were meant to balance work and life, learn and experience, not devote our entire lives to the machine of America. Where’s our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness?

This country is a shit hole. To deny this is completely foolish. People are broke, sad, and angry. The results of what has happened to our nation is obvious. Violence, apathy, grief. What we have is a delusional subset of the population screaming “MURICA!” and condemning everyone who so much as whispers that there is something wrong here that CAN and absolutely SHOULD be fixed. On the other side you have a huge subset of the population that has the academic degrees you told us we should get, the mindfulness you taught us as children, and the energy to get some shit done.

But now that we have all of these qualities, we are condemned for them.

At the debate last night, there were more people drinking and grumbling over both candidates than enthusiasm. There is NO excitement for this election. NONE AT ALL. So for anyone to believe these two candidates are the best of the best, chosen by the people, is completely false. We’ve been had. The government has us bent over the table in so many ways. No one is even fucking hiding it anymore. Videos of cops shooting unarmed, surrendered people. Proof that the election was rigged. Monetary raises and honors and awards for the people stealing our money from the banks.

WHERE IS YOUR SENSE OF OUTRAGE?

I was third in my class. I graduated with a 3.997.

I graduated college with a 3.741. GVSU, Honors College, a degree in Cell & Molecular Bio.

I could have gotten a PhD.

I make my living dedicated to saving the lives of strangers. Many of whom are probably the same assholes that I rant about from time to time. But that doesn’t matter to me. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you came from. We’re all humans with the same intrinsic value to this world. There ought not be any room in your heart for hate.

So a conversation started on “affordable housing” and the availability of jobs. In my area, the average rental is about $1100/mo, but the average job pays $9/hr. The area is dependent on tourism in the summer time. Many people get laid off in the fall and winter. The service employees that serve the wealthy tourists must live outside the city because they can’t afford to live in it. The area is at 98% occupancy and most people spent 57-60% of their income on rent. The city itself has recognized that this is a problem. We’re driving out young professionals who can’t find an opportunity here, and now there are more jobs than there are people who can fill them, since service employees can’t afford to live nearby.

But I walked in on a conversation about how people shouldn’t ‘expect’ affordable housing and that no one ‘owes them’ anything, about how there are ‘plenty of jobs’ but people are ‘too lazy’ to get them and just want their ‘handout.’

I have not personally met a single person my age that is on any kind of government assistance. On the contrary, they’re often working 2-3 jobs trying to make ends meet while hopelessly saving for school or trying to pay back the student loans – loans we obtained to save our damned souls when our parents and adult role models urged us to (read: shoved down our throats) lest we be stuck ‘flipping burgers for the rest of [our] lives.”

So when I pointed this out, I got dog-piled by a bunch of poor-haters. They were quick to tell me to make something better of myself, become an RN or a lawyer or something, that it’s not that hard to figure out. They hadn’t even read my comments where I told them I had a career and was just barely part of the middle class now. I’m actually doing pretty well…it’s just that I’m not dickish enough to declare that because I did it, anyone can. I got incredibly lucky in many ways. Nor did they have any clue that I’d already been through school, which I had also said in my comments.

/Yeah. Because it’s super easy to just ‘become’ a lawyer. Anyone can do that. It isn’t that hard to figure out. /sarcasm

So when there wasn’t any good and useful information to use against me, this zinger came out there.

“I’m older and wiser than you are. We’ll just leave it at that.”

/Triggered

I’m almost 30. When do I qualify to be a real adult? Do you all sit around at your tables comparing ages so that you know exactly how much value to assign to your respective opinions, or is it just with people who are obviously younger than you are? How do you gauge that? Is it the lack of grey hairs, or wrinkles? Because that seems awfully subjective to me. There are different hues of grey and depths of wrinkles. How many years is a wrinkle worth? A grey hair? Is there an algorithm I can learn so that I can also judge everyone else’s statements by their age? I’d really like to make sure I’m accurate. It’s important to me. If I had that equation, I’d probably increase my wisdom thousandfold. At least! Then I’d know exactly how right every single source of information was. It’d be better than any other source of knowledge in existence, I’d bet.

You know why they say this?

It is the only thing they have that I cannot refute. “I’m older than you are.”

“Yeah, I’ll give you that. You’re definitely old.”

You know what else though? They will ALWAYS be older than me. It gives them an excuse not to come up with any argument that has any substance or evidence. They will ALWAYS be older than me. Therefore, it won’t ever matter what I say or how many times I ever prove them wrong. Older is better, and they will always win. I can be twenty. Thirty. Forty. And it won’t fucking matter because they won’t ever listen to what I have to say. I will forever be a child to them, even if I am raising my own kids.

Congratulations…you’ve just proven to me that you don’t give a shit about the truth. I therefore cannot take anything you say seriously. I therefore don’t need you in my life. You are the reason we cannot have nice things. You are the reason this country is a mess.

Get out of the way.

“Why?”

“Because I said so.”

—-

S.K. Balk lives in the frozen wasteland of Northern Michigan. She is the author of the dystopian medical sci-fi THE BLOOD OF NERYS (also available in print).

 

Check out our #OurWorld category every Tuesday to tune into some of the causes we think are important to raise awareness.

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About oneofthedragons

Samantha K. Balk and F. R. Donaldson met on An Archive of Our Own, one of the many fanfiction sites online, when Sam asked Frankie to illustrate the fanfiction that would one day lead to Sam's first novel. They've been friends ever since! This blog was created as a way to share the oftentimes difficult journey any new author experiences on the uncomfortable quest of an introvert for attention to his or her most personal work. It is meant to remind you that authors don't just appear fully fledged like a George R. R. Martin, that all of us start out unsure and feeling inadequate. Feel free to ask us anything. Sam: sammykaye9@gmail.com Frankie: reluctant.fraggle@gmail.com

Posted on September 27, 2016, in #OurWorld and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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