I’ve been feeling unrestrictedly, monstrously confident lately. It in some ways confuses me, and that feeling of confidence is immediately though subtly rattled by a deep rumination over where that confidence comes from. At once, for too long, my conscience was comprised entirely of minor, isolated dramatic exigencies that pirouetted around issues of race, gender, class, and institutions of privilege, recognizing the core cruxes of these issues but never fully willing to delve into their mechanical, underlying complexities. Namely due in part to the emotional toll these systems of power had (and still do have) over my relatively naif intellectual, cognitive and social apparatus, but largely through my elementary, middle, and high school years, the overwhelming vastness of the hierarchical, stratified layout of society was too harsh and severe to fully digest, especially when coupled with the pressures of work, the insurgence of puberty, and the looming threat of applying to (and possibly getting rejected from) college. My resistance to the overwhelming surge of information, impositions and threat that I felt bombarded me daily, unrelentingly slewing barrages of complex and nuanced problems towards my pre-pubescent psyche, intimacies and paradigms to which I found myself clumsily trying to navigate, usually resulted in my adopting a soured perspective on the world, most akin to cynicism, bordering misanthropy. I was, and still am, okay with feeling contempt, if not rage, for the onslaught of hellish ordeals that I, a young precocious black kid felt obligated to manage in isolation. But what was so disturbing, and, to this day, so fundamentally jarring about that experience—totally, from kindergarten to high school graduation—was that parsing through that barrage of disjunction, isolating my experiences, however minute, into some larger, overarching puzzle of social organization that I felt obligated and compelled to piece together, alone, angrily, unapologetically yet sheepishly, and unsure, meant that my experiences, my joys, frustrations and fears, could only be validated insofar as they could be accurately perceived as iterations of a larger, social problem; no legitimacy could be conferred onto my experiences, or feelings no less, until cleanly deposited into some umbrella sociological category. When friends failed to recognize their privilege, my feeling of anger resonated deeply because it dually meant that they were necessarily ignorant to both social issues and my personal emotionality and intellect; they dismissed the social dynamic that legitimized my very existence. Each friendship lost due to a confrontation about white supremacy, patriarchy, heterosexual modalities or socio-economic organization elucidated a social problem as well as a personal one, leaving me to grapple with the self-doubt elicited from this failure of recognition and interlocution. All sense of personal worth and empowerment would reduce evenly with every instance in which a friend, an acquaintance or stranger reductively crumpled the manifold complexities of social organization into what their ignorant locus of privilege boiled down into the most appealing bead of neo-liberal bullshit, almost always shrouding some sort of structural advantage, or sheer arrogance. With each failed instance—and there were so, so many, painfully many—my own sense of self-worth became more and more tenable, brittling rapidly with my community’s collective misconceptions about social activism, while, in my mind, the dismissive confidence and arrogance of my opposing peers would ossify, creating a seemingly impregnable cognitive, social, and cultural barrier isolating me from the rest of my community. I would spend hours poring over sociological readers, writing on my blog about what I thought the problem ought to be, or how it ought to be understood, and tried to fashion—again, still naif, still a fool to myself—some sort of explanation for why these minutiae were so shrill and spartan, why they had such a hold over me, and why there was seemingly no transference between the unraveling of social dilemmas I’d do in private, on my blog, with all deliberateness concentrated on my computer screen, in beading, blood-shot eyes, ruddy finger tips smashing against my keyboard, crouched on my bed, laptop blazing against my thighs, a corporal ball of funneled, anxious energy, ruminating, contemplating always, dissatisfied, disembarking from the social realities of the present, of the at-home, of the school, of the friend, and retreating into my isolated chamber, and the unraveling I’d tried to do when I’d step outside and enter the real world.
And then something changed, and I don’t quite yet know what. After one more failed instance, a friend into whom I poured the most embarrassingly dark and opaque parts of myself, with his full validation and retrospectively feigned support, his shallow investment in counter-culturalism, radical black artistic expression, it all violently fragmented into the nastiest contention I’ve ever had with a person, a relationship where each intimacy between us was loaded, anchored, impressed with the sting of the feeling I can only describe as a retrospective-recognition-of-mutual-unknowing-between-two-people-that-looks-like-betrayal-and-feels-like-a-cruel-sick-prank that rejuvenates from the charge of bitterness and betrayal so deep-running that looking at each other inspires, in no other way I can express it, a pulsing wave of electric hate. It fucked me over. It hurt more than anything I can remember experiencing. And it took months, almost eight, for me to sever the tether that kept us connected and me in that same, naif depressed funk I’d become far too accustomed to back in my high school years. Something changed; no longer did that experience happen to me, and I still have no clue why. Our friendship was cosmically dense with the sociological, ideological, philosophical, emotional, poetic, heavy, and Romantic stuff good friendships—any kind of relationship—ought to be made of; it was rife with opportunities to learn, and I did. And, still cosmic, I, still small and naif, these problems’ hold over me seem laughably less imposing. I feel bloated on what this means: that I’m no longer subject to any abstract, let alone any person. And it feels terribly fucking good.