I watched an excellent film last night, Ask Me Anything, written and directed by Allison Burnett. Britt Robertson gives an amazing lead performance as recent high school graduate, Katie, with a dark past who takes a gap year before college and chronicles all of her secrets on an anonymous blog. There are many light moments as well, as Katie is a hilarious character, but as she sinks into bad habits to cope with the traumas of her life, she reveals much about the way we think and act as humans.
You can find the film on Netflix, and I highly recommend it, it’s very eye-opening.
One of the characters in the movie makes a list of 10 bitter truths, as he believes them to be:
- Complete honesty is a complete lie
- Marriage is sacred only to those who have never been married.
- Money is more integral to happiness than romantic love.
- Every human being is a contradiction. Some hide it better than others.
- Never underestimate the tendency of human beings to act contrary to their own best interests.
- Were it not for the fear of getting caught, most of us would behave like savages.
- All sex has consequences, most of them dire.
- The older you get, the faster time flies until months pass like days.
- There’s no such thing as living happily ever after.
- Everything gets worse.
I certainly don’t agree with everything on this list, but I think the point of it being brought up in the film is what follows – the character who writes this list continues to say that if young people knew these truths about life, they would give up. They wouldn’t bother to go to college, pursue careers or relationships, volunteer, become champions for global causes, or try to change the world.
This makes a lot of sense.
Take religion, for example. Many people do not believe in a higher power. They think that religion was created to get people to think and act a certain way, and that the Bible and other religious texts were more or less written by cult leaders to persuade us.
It’s kind of like when you’re a 6 year old girl, a boy at school picks on you, and your mom tells you it’s because he likes you. This may be true, but it may also just be what you want to hear because it makes you feel better.
Maybe God isn’t real, but I choose to believe that he is because the alternative – believing that we simply exist just to exist, and were not put here by any higher power for any actual purpose – is too much for me to handle. I can’t live that way, I would go crazy.
The way I see it, if I die and find out that God is real, I’m safe, beyond having been skeptical of him at times. If I die and find out that God isn’t real, nothing bad happens to me in the afterlife, and I lived a fulfilling life on Earth to the best of my ability. It’ a win-win.
It’s all in your perspective.
We tell ourselves and each other what we need to hear to keep going, but that being said, we also tell ourselves and each other what we need to hear to quit, either because we are scared, or jealous to see someone surpass us… there are countless reasons, but at the end of the day you have to decide for yourself what to believe and what to pursue.
I choose purpose. I refuse to believe that there is nothing more to my life than becoming a corporate robot, working the same 9-5 job that I hate for 20 years, marrying someone who does the same, buying a house, having 2 kids and a dog, and then watching them grow up and repeat my life.
Some people aspire to the corporate office job and white picket fence life thing, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I am just not one of those people. I want a job that I love, not a job that I’m great at but tolerate. I want to wake up in the morning and be excited for work, feeling like I get to go there rather than I have to go there.
Another one of my favorite quotes from Ask Me Anything is “your generation is addicted to attention” which I think is sadly true.
“If you don’t post it, it didn’t happen” seems to be the slogan of today. When you go out to eat with friends, are you really enjoying each other’s company? Or are you all instagramming your plates and checking in so everyone else knows that you went out to dinner?
I’ll tell you one thing – the way I decide rather to pursue a friendship or not, is by how much time I spend on my phone when we’re together. If I stare at my phone the entire time you’re talking and I’m not waiting on an important call from a family member, it’s because your conversation is not interesting and I do not want to be with you. If I put my phone down and am truly engaged in what you have to say, I hope we will become best friends.
We are addicted to attention, and it’s sad. Whenever I tell people that I have a blog, their first question is, “Really? How many followers do you have?”
You know what? I don’t have a lot of followers, and I don’t care. My goal isn’t to have a lot of followers, it is to hopefully help someone. Someone who is struggling through life, like I am. Someone who feels completely alone and doesn’t feel like anyone understands them. Someone who is searching for direction and doesn’t know where to find it.
That can be one person.
If I touch one single person in my lifetime by something I wrote, be it here on this blog, or my novel if it ever gets published, or a song if those are ever heard by somebody else – that will be enough for me. That is what’s important to me.
Maybe it’s all pointless, but if you believe that, you’ll never reach your goals.
If there is something you want to do, make a plan, and put it into action. You might not make it. You might spend your entire life trying. So you do need to ask yourself if you’re okay with that, or if you’d rather refocus your efforts on something else. If you choose something else, there is nothing wrong with that.
The key is to stop looking at life as wasted time.
I feel like I wasted the last 4 years by going to college instead of working on creative projects like music and my book, because I spent a lot of time on those in high school and that is when I last remember being truly and consistently happy. I wasn’t necessarily working toward a career in music or writing, but those were things that I loved so I spent my free time on them. I have since lost sight of that, now that I’ve reached a point in my life where I have to start looking for a career, I spend my free time wishing I had a desire to do something in corporate, because I live in St. Louis and I have good opportunities that have nothing to do with entertainment, rather than just working on my music and writing for fun like I used to, and then seeing what I can do with it when it’s finished.
Your motivation isn’t going to come from outside of you, it comes from within you. You can get a little push here and there from a friend, family member, or coworker or whatever, put people are just as quick to tear you down as they are to build you up.
What do you want? What’s holding you back? What changes are you going to make to get there?