May 28, 2010

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:29 pm by Iain

So I’m trying this new thing where I stop affecting apathy in my writing. Partly for my own growth as a writer, but mainly so that I force myself to confront my emotions with a candor that doesn’t hide behind humor or ambivalence to mask (or silence) its ramifications. It’s difficult. Not to mention a little bit ironic. I mean wow, it took me what, roughly five months for me to completely reject “I just don’t think it’s possible for irony to ever become a bad thing” just two posts down? Sure, I understood that something like this was going to happen when I said something so definitively, but five months? My life is a roller coaster. (Sorry Ali)

Anyway. I have officially graduated from the four year institution of my choice. Unfortunately, my life is just as meaningless as it was before I started, but things are alright, because things have changed. And as apprehensive as I feel towards those four years, I think I’m happy with the things that have changed. I know, I know, you’re probably a little worried that that was a signal phrase that is going to lead into one of those glowing recaps of my college experience posts. Let me be the first to tell you that this is exactly not what I’m about to do. What I am going to do is to tell you how much this post is not a glowing recap of my college experience, while all the while writing about my glowing college experience. Ah Northern Iowa, you’ve taught me so much.

I don’t want to get sucked into writing about how much progress I’ve made and how far I’ve come and all those really smarmy, dramatic readings of the process, but really it’s kind of hard not to. I was a pretty big dick four years ago. There was a lot of sexism, a lot of thinly veiled elitism that I’ve used to excuse my privilege. Some institutional racism too, although I haven’t been able to address that as fully as I want. But overall yeah, a lot of privilege. These are definitely all traits that I’m continuing to grapple with right now, but it’s crazy just looking back and wondering how these all were born (Short answer: American popular culture, parental issues, internalized hegemonic insecurities).

Getting back to the not-narrative, there were a number of pivotal moments that precipitated the gradual softening of the me-dick. Starting at the beginning, freshman year there was an old high school girlfriend who happens to have a name that is actually much more ubiquitous than I originally thought. It was a bad relationship. Neither of us were ready for what we said we were, especially not me. And most of all, for the entirety of the relationship and much of my next, I was a verbally abusive, sexist, piece of shit. Completely hollow, all about power – it was…bad. So when it finally ended halfway through freshman year and both of us were able to step back and see how grotesque it really was, I began to have some serious issues.

But of course, rather than having the guts to stop and try to deal with any of what I was experiencing, I thought it would be a better idea to just displace my self-hatred. So I got a new girlfriend. And then almost a year later, when we broke up for very similar reasons as the previous relationship, I started to remember all the awful things that I had done. So then I displaced those onto a third girl, even though my ex was acutely aware of all that I was doing.

I don’t think I can even begin to explain how completely ruthless that was. I remember being accused once by my high school girlfriend of being a sociopath. I think that’s part of it.

The rest of that year was spent in the depths of white male guilt. Gradually, with the help of my girlfriend, Ali, I was able to at least attempt to change, although it wasn’t until the last year and a half that I’ve tried to take hold of where I am going, with varying success. It’s so tempting to just distance myself from all that I’ve done, but I’m trying not to. I’m really trying.

I think a big part of this process for me was realizing that nearly everything that I was doing wasn’t original. All that bullshit about dating and not dating and then dating again, it’s been done – of course it’s been done. But it’s not just that other people have done varying degrees of what I’ve done, but that so many people have. It’s a societal thing. And the ridiculous thing is that there are so few people that are willing to be convinced of that. This type of oppression happens on a daily basis and nobody does anything about it. What the fuck.

We just explain it away with a ” he’s just a guy! All guys do that…right?” or with that disposable gallows humor telling us to suck it up or to think of the good things or that maybe he just had a bad day? And then you have hipster irony, which does all those things while simultaneously silencing you for actually being a victim. Please don’t use this type of irony.

And so I’m in this weird place where I’ve done all of this bullshit and I try as best as I can to not do it and to call it out, but no one wants me to call it out because then they have to analyze why they’re doing the things that they’re doing and then they don’t understand or don’t want to understand and so they get confused and then they look at me and then they get mad and then I don’t have friends. That or I become “the Race Guy,” or that guy that talks about feminism but he’s a guy so…?

And so that’s where I am. Four years later.

Liminality is a nice place, I guess.

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