February 5, 2017

“But I Turned Out Okay”

Fine is the watch word. I’m totally okay. It what we say when we’re just barely coping or getting by. What we mean is we’re somehow okay with where we are. Really, though, we could be so much better.

I listen to people of the generations before mine and some who are older in my own generation. We talk about how they were forced to deal with certain events in life. They had to struggle, hard, with certain things so I, too, must struggle. Why? Because it made them better people. They are “stronger” for their suffering, as they like to put it.

A lot of people moaned over students being allowed to mourn the 2016 election. Older generations recalled being forced to sit exams after 9/11 or remaining in class after the Challenger exploded. Other things… being made to cry on a weekly basis by a teacher to get work accomplished. Meaningless work – tedious repetitive multiplication tables. No wonder we lack mathematicians and programmers now. Failure is not an option. Failure means your life is ruined forever. The ultimatums were not encouraging – they were frightening people away. Not because we were weak. I took a chance and faced the fear head on. Turns out, calculus isn’t actually that difficult if you’re doing it in the right environment. Yes, even the girl next to me who sounded like a stereotypical blonde cheerleader can manage actuarial science better than you.

It is one thing to have a rigorous course. It is quite another to expect an abusive system.

The United States is skyrocketing with depression, anxiety, anger issues, explosive disorders, alcoholism, an opioid addiction crisis, divorce rates, domestic violence, and numerous other issues.  There are so many issues… and… yes, even you are dealing with them. Even you don’t see a doctor for it. And you probably don’t, because most likely you can’t afford to do so.

When you say you turned out just fine… you didn’t really. I see you crying about your boss, your coworker groping you, your boyfriend hitting you, your fiance cheating on you, how you lack the skills to talk to people, how you cannot even fathom speaking to someone of authority without blowing up with rage five minutes later. You are not fine. Your cholesterol levels are through the roof. Your blood pressure is twice that of my own. You are drowning in debt. You are surviving. You are scraping by. You are managing, as one does when one has no other choice. Or when the only other choice is to give up.

You are a fighter – that is certain. But you could be better than just fine, so much better than just getting by. But for some reason… you all insist that we must be this way, too. You say you wanted better for us… but really, you want us to suffer as you have. To continue to cycle of being barely fine. Of walking on the edge, praying that we do not fall into that pit of despair, never to see the light of hope again. It’s not too late for us. Or for the generation after us. Or even for you. If you let us…

Growing up the way you did… it did not make you hard. It did not make you pathetic, either. You survived it, sure. But here’s the thing. We don’t have to live that way. And no one can make us live that way.

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