Infinite Authenticity

by Natalie Yuhas

 

 

As much as I dislike the arbitrary holiday of New Year's, there is something inspiring about the idea of a fresh start. I think it is important to evaluate yourself every now and again and understand where you are currently and where you want to go. New Year’s Resolutions give you the chance to do just that. I took resolutions as particularly important this year because 2016 is the year I will graduate and start a completely new chapter of my life. I want to leave Boston College knowing that I got the most I could out of the experience as I could and to enter into “real” adulthood as the best version of myself I can be at that time.

 

Of course, I thought about the typical ones: go the gym, eat better, stop procrastinating— but those have been superficial resolutions I have had for years now, and I don’t feel like they bring me to my most authentic self. If anything, they are a way to not think about what I really need to fix in my life and in my relationships. Coincidentally, I happened to be reading Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace over break, and as much as I wanted to throw the book out my window because of all the footnotes, I found it to be extremely helpful when thinking about my own flaws.

           

It’s a complicated book and I could spend forever talking about it, but an important theme is what we find entertaining and why we find it entertaining. One scene in particular really jumped out at me. A character is talking about how much of a void is left in his life when an obscure radio show he loves goes off the air. “Mario’d fallen in love with the first Madame Psychosis programs because he felt like he was listening to someone sad read out loud from the yellow letters she’d taken out of a shoebox on a rainy P.M., stuff about heartbreak and people you loved dying and U.S. woe, stuff that was real. It in increasingly hard to find valid art that is about stuff that is real in this way” (Wallace 592). Without that radio show, he has a hard time finding an outlet for any real emotion or any conversation with real depth. “It’s like there’s some rule that real stuff can only get mentioned if everybody rolls their eyes or laughs in a way that isn’t happy” (Wallace 592).

           

I stopped reading and drew five exclamation marks in the margin next to the section. It was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment, because it was talking directly about me.

           

One of the things I like about myself is my sense of humor; I try not to take myself too seriously and love to make my friends laugh. Although it is a good thing and brings a lot of joy into my life, it is also problematic. Almost everything I say is just saturated with sarcasm and, consequently, judgement. When I’m uncomfortable, I make a joke about it. I avoid talking about things that genuinely upset or bother me at all costs. I make fun of the people and things I love.  

           

It’s not just me, either. This type of humor is everywhere; it’s cool not to care. Whenever I scroll through my Instagram newsfeed, I see pictures of beautiful scenery with the caption, “I guess this view is ok,” or a picture of someone the person genuinely loves with, “He is fine sometimes.”  And when people do show genuine emotion or are vulnerable, it is instantly a source of ridicule. Like Wallace says, it’s laughter, but it isn’t really happy; there is always a tone of bitterness, and that is not a life I want to live and does not bring me closer to fulfilment. 

           

In 2016, I want to let be vulnerable and let myself feel things. Yes, I cry at HGTV TV shows because the kitchen renovations are just too beautiful, and yes I also have been so touched by a Nickelback song that I cried. Yes, I genuinely love and appreciate my family and friends and, no, I don’t tell them that enough. But I will.

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