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14 December 2002 (Saturday): freedom's void

It never rains but it pours. Why my brain deems muffin-making and bacterial infections to be blog-worthy, I've no idea. Sometimes ya wanna write, and ya want someone to read it, never mind that it's crap.

A recent Salon article wryly observes that single women these days have it all, and they mostly bitch about it. Marrying young is no longer an expectation; having kids is optional, as is getting hitched in order to have them; the career field is wide open, there's no shame in having a sex life, and so on. But oh, there's always something missing. Some nagging guilt that they're doing it all wrong.

This is a variation on another reported trend: young overachievers complaining that they can't figure out what to do with their lives. After multiple graduate degrees, black belts in two martial arts and a Fulbright, they're still wandering. True liberty, it seems, is such an odd concept that when we do experience it, it feels as much like a prison as anything else. The freedom to be anything you want, anything at all, is actually paralyzing.

Even though I could count myself a part of both groups, I seem to have escaped this particular brand of paralysis, and I'm not entirely sure why. Got lucky, that's the simplest answer. My freedom came with a map and a compass; failure is quite possible, but at least the path is clear. I don't envy those who're navigating this landscape on guesswork alone.

posted by enjelani @ 12:51 AM PST

Replies: 4 comments

hard for me to comment on group #1, but as for group #2, I think part of the problem is that, in the mad rush to grab credentials and stand out as something extraordinary, the overachieving wanderers have spent precious little time actually dreaming.

What free time these types do have isn't necessarily squandered, but between a manic pursuit of immediate happiness and obligatory stress relief, they've almost never really had the time to fantasize about their 'ideal' futures. Too much doing, not enough dreaming, and the mindset doesn't lend itself to even believing that it's possible for there to be too much doing.

So when it's time for life to take off, they're lost at the terminal and don't know which gate they're supposed to head for, which also creates that panicky feeling that they've missed their flight.

But that's *just* a theory. It's not like I'd know anything about that.

posted by m. mellow @ 14 12 2002 08:24 AM PST

when the exceptional becomes expected, either in yourself our through the influence of others, you have the tendency to always want extraordinary things out of yourself. at least in my case.

i agree with mellow. but in my case, the problem is that dreaming is constantly on overload. all of a sudden the day's through and i realized i spent half of it in my head.

i have a lot of ambitions in this world, but i also spend too much time vacationing in other worlds.

posted by soren @ 14 12 2002 12:42 PM PST

that works (or doesn't work) too, I agree :)

posted by m. mellow @ 14 12 2002 01:04 PM PST

I'm right there with Soren.

S'what my big problem is; wanting too much but fearing I won't be able to get it so I'm paralyzed in mediocrity. Feh.

posted by Gaudior @ 16 12 2002 01:35 PM PST