when contradiction is a language

by (vanessa)

When I was younger I harboured an immense distaste for rules and routines. Now I’m older and can safely say that I have mellowed down, but lately I’ve realized something unsettling. I find myself eating the same thing at the school canteen for lunch because I fancy few other dishes, sitting at the same damn spot in lecture theatres – that is, usually further away from people so that untimely bodily noises like tummy growling can be more easily masked, and retrieving my “schedule” (some semblance of it. I do try) whenever someone asks, “Will you be free on -”

I shudder every time people stand to the right of the escalator instead of the left and am less certain than ever about jumping into things without a concrete plan. It used to be easy to throw your hands up in the air in the name of carpe diem, yell to heck with the rules, follow your heart, things will turn out for themselves and all that kind of adolescent yolo-is-my-life-mantra bullshit. I’m not saying we should only start when we have a fixed plan. Improvisation is fine but you have to do it with some rough big picture in mind.

The problem is I can’t tell if this sudden need for structure in my life is a manifestation of jadedness, or a benchmark for maturity, or a symptom of my gradual submission to conformity. What was that line again from The Dark Knight? You either live long enough to die a hero or see yourself become the villain? Well, in a world where you can’t neatly box people up into heroes or villains, a more realistic spin on the quote would be: you either live long enough to die a rebel or watch yourself knowingly but reluctantly join arms with the conformists. A transition from the dark to the dull side, which we usually look at as an ideological defeat of sorts, because to slide into conformity is to surrender your precious Individuality with a capital I. We also regard the conversion with some notion of permanence, because once a conformist, always a conformist. But maybe I’m just catching up and trying to introduce some order into my disorderly life. Order versus disorder. Rebel vs conformist. I tend to speak in dichotomies despite insisting how “false” they are all the time. Ergo, I speak in contradictions.

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