I turned 19 a couple days ago, and it was a shitty experience; I kid you not. I had an anxiety attack about 20 minutes before midnight, which pretty much immobilized me for half an hour as I tried to breathe normally and stop myself from crying.
Why did this happen, you ask?
It all started 12 years ago when a little shithead punched me in the stomach during recess.
You see, I was a really tiny kid and this punk had bony knuckles that, when clenched into a fist, can really fucking hurt you. I didn’t manage to swipe one back at the asshole because a teacher swooped in immediately, but ohhh I would bide my time before I got my revenge…
I never did, unfortunately, but from then on I knew I had to defend myself if another peasant dared touch me. The opportunity arose when I was 14.
I was walking down a corridor to my classroom when Asshole #2 (who was sitting up against a wall) stuck his leg out to trip me. I faceplanted but that was the least of my concerns because I had, and still have a rage monster that dwells within me, and this nitwit had unleashed it in a matter of nanoseconds.
I swung around, still on the floor, and whammed my foot into his gut.
Like all spineless idiots, he grassed on me and for unfathomable reasons, the teacher decided my offense was bigger than his. I wasn’t behaving like a lady, apparently. Nobody was punished, but the fact that I was considered the guilty party didn’t escape me.
I call this systematic misogyny.
The injustice of this disgusting bit of sexism and gender role conditioning would come to form the basis of my passion for social justice, but I didn’t know it then because I was fucking 14 and school only taught conformity at that age. (Literature studies tell me this is great use of irony)
So we fast forward to 18 (that’s last year), and I was properly learning about equality, institutionalized discrimination, and the like. I was fueled by the incident with Asshole #2, and I was consuming articles and passages with burning intensity. I’m neurotic, you need to remember that.
Of course, in my attempt to educate myself on social issues, I also had to worry about college and being able to get into a good university. I’m an English major, so I thought “Hey, I should incorporate my passion for social justice into my poetry and stories!”
ERHMAHGERD WHAT A BRILLIANT IDEA. Cos you know, there’s the old adage about how you need to be passionate about what you write if you want it to be good.
I started interacting with similar and like-minded people, and I learned that the local arts scene was starting to push itself up on its chubby feet. Things were happening. People were doing things, and had great messages in their work too.
The important thing is, they weren’t just writing their shit and keeping it hidden in their notebooks. They were putting their stuff out there and making sure their voices were heard.
The thing about being an English major is that you read a lot of material that spouts philosophy and existentialism. Seeing people my age being established and creating a lot of good stuff; it’s fantastic, you know, but it also fucking scares me. Because this question has been haunting me for the past year, as it has with every person in their life at some point:
What the fuck am I doing with my life?
I know people who organize art festivals, go on radio shows, run Youtube channels, perform for open mic sessions, compete in talent shows.
And what do I have to show for my 19 years of life?
Obviously it’s within my realm of control, and I have the chance to organize art festivals or perform for open mic sessions as well, but that’s exactly the reason I’m petrified. Because it’s within my realm of control, and I am doing nothing whatsoever about it.
Why have I been paralyzed into inactivity?
“This needs to change, I need to do something, I can’t sit here and dream forever, I need to fucking TAKE IT.”
Those thoughts and conclusions came in the wee hours of the morning, but first I had the anxiety attack.
So, had I not kicked Asshole #2 in the gut, I would not have had that cold dose of reality (aka sexism), which consequently would not have led to my self-education on social justice.
I would not have decided to pour that interest into my work, which would have prevented me from meeting these great, proactive people who are courageous enough to put their art out there. Yeah, knowing them sort of triggered an existential crisis.
All because a fuckwit decided to punch me 12 years ago.