Idealism is a cruel mistress

21 Dec

…and I’ve been a mistress, so I know what I’m talking about.

Do you know why Kurt Cobain, Ernest Hemingway, and Vincent Van Gogh killed themselves?

They were professional dreamers. Idealists. People who just got to the point where they couldn’t take living at odds with a world that ate idealists alive.

Idealism. I feel like the older I get, the more naive I become. The more people hurt me, the more I wonder why. The more shitty life experiences I have, the more confused I get. Idealism won’t keep you alive very long; you have to adapt and wear the mantle of cynicism. You have to harden yourself against this stuff, or one day you just snap. Like those guys.

I often wonder if this idealism is going to be the death of me. If I will just keep trying to bottle up pain and resist hardening my heart until finally something just gives. I guess I feel like becoming a stone-cold cynic is a form of death in itself.

Is there anything noble about trying to remain hopeful that men won’t hurt you, that friends won’t die, that life will be about more than work eat work sleep work eat work repeat?

I just don’t have the same thought processes as the rest of you. I don’t. Consciously hurting another human being – wouldn’t hear of it. This is coming from someone who was MERCILESSLY teased growing up. It never even crossed my mind that I should take it out on other people, tease people below me to exact revenge.

Someone who used to mean a lot to me once told me that I possessed an abnormally high passion for justice for a woman – implying that women don’t often stand on the ramparts of causes and rally the troops over the top. He was trying to tell me that I am not like anyone else. That my identity is not concerned with things like gender or societal mores or social class or white privilege.

He was trying to tell me that he recognized that all that shit didn’t matter to me. He said he admired me because I was ceaselessly committed to always doing something because it was right, and fuck the world’s opinion of me.

What happens when trying to always do the right thing leaves you wondering why you bother?

I always try to do the right thing. To the point that I don’t always do the smart thing. And yes, I lifted that from a Battlestar Galactica episode. Because it’s true.

Idealism gets you killed. But if I’m gonna be a cynic, what the hell is the point of living like that?

My New Year’s resolution is for a less dichotomous life. I want to do the right thing and be happy. I want to keep my idealism intact without life shitting on my head. Has anyone ever made this work, or do we al eventually sell our souls to the high priest of cynicism?


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