There’s a large portion of the Left (and frankly the Right too, and also pretty much anyone who is alienated enough to make politics a centerpiece of their life) that lives their life with a lot of ironic distance: constantly in reaction to stuff, making fun of others, and basing a lot of happiness and self-esteem on their ability to critique stuff with wit and severity, etc. The podcast Chapo Trap House is a good example of the mindset I’m talking about.
I spent most of my early 20s living my life with ironic distance. I thought it made me cool, edgy, “hard.”
Going through that phase was necessary for me. But while I thought it made me “hard,” it was really the easy way out.
Way more challenging and difficult is standing for something with extreme, authentic earnestness. That’s hard. To believe in stuff and to actually *be* something.
It’s actually quite easy to make fun of extreme earnest-ness. But too much irony will eat your soul and make you feel more and more empty inside. Too much irony — not finding out who you are, and then being that — is toxic.
Look, it shouldn’t be a challenge to fill yourself up with real substance, but it can be a challenge, and that’s hard, but it is worth it.
I wish I could tell my younger self that it is OK to be someone. To discover who I am and be unafraid to express that.
I’ve got one life to live. If I don’t live it, then what’s the point.