Fragmented thoughts of a fragmented mind

12 Sep 2016

on feeling like a perpetual tourist

I spend most of my life feeling exhausted about the world, and then feeling exhausted about feeling exhausted. When I was younger I thought everybody felt this way, only to find out most people actually enjoy living, or they don’t question how they feel about living. Survival instincts are hard-wired in them, and stories of exceptional survival at all costs constantly amazes me. I feel like an outsider most of the time, peering into this phenomenon called humanity, unable to identify much with it.

People often think my existential tendencies stem from depression, I think my depressive tendencies stem from being existential. There is a huge difference, because while depression can be managed, I am not sure if I’ll ever stop being existential. This awareness increases as I age. The more I grow into myself, the more existential I become, as I no longer feel the compelling need to fit in. It is the knowledge that even when life gets beautiful, I am still feeling existential. My being does not change with external circumstances. I still feel like I don’t belong, no matter how beautiful life can get for me. I can perhaps convince myself that I could be a fulfilled tourist, that is as good as it gets.

Except when it gets expensive to be a tourist. I am not only referring to the material cost, but the emotional and mental cost. My value system is the opposite of the mainstream. Every single day, most interactions with other human beings remind me of how much my existence is at odds with the world.

At a younger age I had to cope with a lot of societal conditioning, so I had found myself chasing after milestones like most people do, because I never really had the courage to live as myself, or to even believe I could be me. These days I have to repeatedly tell people that I don’t care about my career, and I forget how much it shocks people still. It is like blasphemy in modern society, to not pride our careers.

Despite all these feelings I still have an addiction to being useful. I guess it is a very reliable anchor to this world. If I can’t convince myself of the value of my own existence, at the very least I should maximise it for other people, if they could find ways to use me. Being used is an easy way to keep myself living, so I end up freely offering myself to people.

Lately, even that hasn’t been working. I find myself having to keep on managing the paradoxical conflict of not really being invested in the outcomes of this world versus my natural instincts (or addiction) for problem solving. I used to believe that I was altruistic because I wanted to be a good human being, whatever that means. Yet maturity and more self-awareness has led me to think that my altruism stems from a natural frustration at the inefficiencies of this world. To me, social injustice doesn’t make any sense. Going back to the tourist metaphor, it feels like I am visiting this world – it is astoundingly beautiful and yet plainly illogical.

But because I subconsciously identify as a tourist, my duty is to observe and respect this world for what she is. Yet I cannot help my compulsive desire to fix. Yet trying to fix things while feeling like an outsider could be detrimental, as I have experienced. That is because I am trying to solve problems from my outsider’s perspective of what makes sense to me, without considering the natural impulses of humanity, at least in the current state. To survive at all costs.

So I end up feeling exhausted and frustrated, wondering why am I here. I keep trying to do things that make sense to me. Almost every day I ask myself what seems like logical questions – why can’t we see that the distribution of wealth, the empowerment of the underprivileged is necessary to us flourishing as a whole? Why do we keep killing each other? Why do we think that thinking of other people as less is okay? I keep forgetting that I don’t understand and perhaps I could never – the will to survive at all costs, even at the cost of long-term survivability.

I go into these cycles. Of resignation and acceptance, followed by bouts of idealistic optimism again, preceding another process of resignation and acceptance. Perhaps the acceptance should be about accepting these cycles as part of my life, instead of feeling stupid that I even believed it could be different. Maybe I got it wrong, that these cycles are perpetuated not because I have an illogical belief that it could be different, but rather that I am still willing to stake something despite it all.

It could be my attempt to be assimilated. Or my will to survive at all costs is manifested differently – despite what little will I have and all my difficult feelings I am still trying to live in my own way, to be part of this whole, no matter how alien (and possibly nonsensical) this culture feels to me.

Love, is illogical.

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