On My Existential Crisis (Or How I Learned To Accept Being Useless)

Last week was a long week on planet Earth.

I don’t think it’s controversial for me to say this. I mean, nobody seems to be in a good mood. We’re all worn out, even those that voted for the next administration. I’ve touched on my emotional stress over the world in a previous entry. I’m not saying any more. What I’m going to talk about is the moment that got me back on the horse.

It was a small bit of great news. The podcast I do with my dear friend Albert received an increase in our pledges which allowed us to go to our own domain, thefilmroom.org. This meant that for a few hours, I could devote myself entirely to thinking about film criticism, one of the great loves of my life. I could hype something I love doing with someone I love working with.

Working on that for the last few days left me feeling something I hadn’t felt since the moment I started to feel fear: a sense of a righted ship. I started to feel stronger and at peace. I was able to get back on social media. I felt more at ease with life.

But there’s a cost to that. I’ve also felt a profound sense of guilt over the last week because I wanted to bury myself in silly little things that don’t change the world. Many of my friends are firebrands who are trying to make massive change and I still want to be the guy discussing Doctor Strange. They’re stoking the fires I don’t have the ability to stoke.

As a result, I’ve had a real existential crisis. I want to be a “good” person but right now the definition of “good” is something I have no skill at. I’m not bold and confident like they are. Furthermore, many of those speaking up are marginalized and I’m frankly not. It’s not that it’s not my place to speak but that, well it might not be honestly.

Then there’s the dark side of things. In this last week, I’ve been flooded with apocalyptic imagery and it did start to affect me. I’ve had a few panic episodes. One of those was actually a very severe one that had a physiological effect on me. I don’t talk much about this, but warnings of doomsday from respectable sources have long had a very violent effect on my psyche and this week they bottomed out. This has a lot to do with why I was offline for much of the last week.

Moments like these force us to step back and look at ourselves. We see our weaknesses in full. We have to marinate in the full glare of how insignificant we are. We see that yes, we’re hypocritical and capable of being the very people we despise. And then we have to do something that’s almost impossible. We must accept it.

I’m not capable of living up to the standard I’m setting for myself right now. This is the truth plain and simple. And because this is true, I’m not going to be respected or liked like I want to be. I’m well aware I haven’t impressed anybody. I’m not going to be the guy posting comparisons to history or how to contact a senator (though I will try to contact one tomorrow on one issue.) I’m going to be the guy posting on DTV comic book movies.

And when I do get up and running, I’m going to focus on the causes that most directly impact me. We can argue that I’m being selfish. I prefer to say I’m speaking on the subjects I actually know how to argue. After all, I consider this blog nothing if not a tool for activism. I’m going to discuss harassment and bullying on a macro scale because it’s what I understand.

Furthermore, I’m not actually useless. I’m an employee. I’m a friend. I’m a son. I’m a brother. I’m a father. I’m a husband. I have my roles I fill. Last week I was crippled in those roles and I cannot let that happen. There are people who need me in my micro world.

But even if I was this fly buzzing about things that don’t matter, I can’t tear myself down for being that person. I’m autistic. I’m wired to be fixated on small things. It’s in my fundamental programing the same way being a revolutionary is in my friends’ blood.

And maybe this is my role. Being a voice of entertainment has made some of my friends happy. Someone has to keep the silliness and lightness going. Someone has to be there to man the release valves and provide an escape on twitter The Film Room has a job to do when people need to get their mind off the world.

So this is how it is. I’ll focus on the light stuff. Not because I don’t care but because it’s what I’m capable of. And yes, that’ll look bad on me. I know it will. And I’ll even go so far as to say I’ll deserve it to a degree. But this is how it is.

And maybe in time I’ll get stronger. I’ve grown as an activist through this blog. I’ve gotten stronger through The Film Room’s proudly progressive slant. I’m not incapable of getting closer to where I want to be.

But I’m not there. And that’s okay.