frustration and connection in the city?
July 28, 2012 6:25 PM Subscribe
How have you negotiated being frustrated with the culture and experience of young-white-people-in-the-city without alienating friends or becoming a hypocrite/cynic/other mopey monster variant?
posted by elephantsvanish to Human Relations (28 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
(I have a strong streak of self-imposed outsider in me, meaning that while I am drawn to people, I periodically wander off the map and become increasingly in my own world of research and books and stuff. That's an important emotional context for this question:)
I'm a year out of school and trying to stay connected and healthy in this city. Most of the time I think I'm doing pretty well. But recently, I've become very sharply disenchanted with that whole effort. I'm half Mexican but grew up without connection to that family/culture. Most see me as white, and many of my peers are white, and while I know it's equally prejudicial to reject any group, I can't help but see things as "privileged white young kids adventuring around together" and become very, very frustrated. Some of my friends are lurching towards adult-life by discovering their love of fine things, furniture and money and blah blah, and others are reveling in the minimal bikes-and-beer aesthetic, and while this is not evil or anything, it just makes me feel disconnected and sad, kind of. On one hand I love that many folks I know are creating music and art and celebrating each other's efforts, but another part of me is frustrated that these efforts don't seem to extend past the contexts of the lives they're leading, and have so little or nothing to do with the suffering that's going on out there in the world.
As you can see, I'm trying not to frame myself as being judgmental, but maybe I'm doing just that. I devote my working life to service and community things, and this does energize me. I suppose it's kind of like, when I get to the part of life that's supposed to be the relaxed moments, the celebratory moments, the we-worked-all-week-for-this! moments, those are actually the ones where I feel saddest and most lost, wand I have to hide that. It's not my party, it's the wrong party, the motions are mimicked.
Also as I'm sure you all can infer, I've struggled for years with social anxiety. However this has improved hugely over the last 3 years or so. But I don't really want to think of this struggle in terms of an individualistic diagnostic framework, you know? I think many people are probably feeling exactly as I am. I'm concerned with how to take practical steps to not feel like the life I'm choosing, as we all choose this all every day, is not in bad faith, and that I'm reaching out in the right ways.
tl;dr: What are some strategies you have to readjust your involvement with social circles and urban spaces and whatever so that you don't fall into trap of privleged adventurism for its own sake? Is this the sort of thing where "discovering my roots" and diving into Mexican culture could help? How do you not take yourself too seriously and at the same time, be compassionate to yourself so that weekends don't end up so wounding, in a sense, and are instead about connection and other people? (This needs its own tl;dr, ha)
(p.s. - i have been reading these HR posts over the years and find myself incredibly soothed by the discourse that always emerges. so thank you in advance. it's like with any kind of research - figuring out how to think about the issue in the first place is most of the battle.)