Until today, I have never heard of the name Essena O’Neill. I spend very little of my time on Social Media – I have a facebook full of posts I don’t understand as they are from people from Sweden, Greece, wherever. I have a Twitter I used about once in the last month, and not to write. I have Instagram though, and while I like it I mainly have it because sometimes I feel like taking a selfie and to share pics of things I like. For an average 19 year old, this is like nothing – yet I could relate to the lines Essena wrote when I read them on watson just before. Actually I could so much that I had to stop reading half way through. And my instagram account does not have those perfect girls she talks about in them, only a few celebrities (usually of the Eurovision kind) and people all over the world who liked my posts once, or are friends of mine, and whose profiles I liked. Yet it seems like a metaphor for the difficult life I feel we lead as teenagers and young adults nowadays. I admit what almost nobody knows here: I am in an ongoing teenage identity crisis since over a year. Since I finished school in July 2014. The last time I felt genuinely happy on a normal day in Switzerland was probably in May 2014 after exams. Don’t get me wrong – I have been happy after. I had the time of my life in Vienna at Eurovision, but even that had its terrible terrible moments. I had an awesome time in Germany, Holland, Belgium etc this summer – and a borderline breakdown in Lille days before because a lovely Australian couple (You know who you are. Thank you so much again. You may not have convinced me into believing into God and Jesus, but I started to believe in unspecified gods again, and I am pretty sure it is at least partly thanks to you and the minutes.. hours… whatever… that you spent with me when I was crying on the floor in the middle of the night.) made me terribly jealous of them and terribly sad that I had to leave them at the same time. Last week I had to run away from my mother and her boyfriend in a rather impolite way because I couldn’t take their couple behaviour anymore. It literally made me a mix between sick and willing to punch them both into the face (sorry Mom!)
It is not easy growing up like me, socially slightly awkward and mostly fine with it which is the worst part. It seems like the best thing, right? If you have a slightly weird personal trait, being okay with its consequences should be perfect. It’s not. I tell myself I am fine with being alone, but the truth is that I am as long as I know who I can go to. I don’t. I will try to tell you now where the problem lies, and maybe it works. Maybe it doesnt. But I have to write. From 2003 to 2014, my life was ordered and mostly easy – I spent my life at school, in curling practice, later on in badminton practice as well, and spent my free time gaming, playing guitar and doing not much else. My friends were at school or in the sports clubs and it was fine. I skipped 4th grade and spent my school life being the youngest from that moment on. Not that I minded, but I am sure it did something to me – it set high expectations. Not in school, as teachers first probably didnt care and later on didn’t know. In social life. Because we will forget someone is a year younger. In school, your age is measured by grades. Still, in comparison, those were easy years. Social skills – apart from an absolute minimum – not required. Then exams came, went, and here it was: my gap year. The first time in my life I was on my own, and I noticed who I was: A 18-year-old baby basically, unable to form new contacts, almost unable to contact anyone except some of my best friends as I felt it would have been weird, suddenly with lots of free time. Talking to new people was something others did. And it became more and more obvious the life I was leading was not decided by me, but by the view I had in my mind of what the life of an 18-year-old should be like. Except that I couldn’t live up to it. I didn’t go out much, as that would’ve required friends I didn’t have anymore. I never had a girlfriend or even a date (I still haven’t, and it’s bothering me no matter how much I or others say it shouldn’t) while the boy in my head whose life I want(ed) to live had a vibrant social life, hobbies and talents (that correlated, ideally), and a happy relationship with a nice girlfriend or a few nice… encounters, depending on what phase he was in at the moment. I assume it was an ideal we all had and proclaimed to live, and nobody really did, but I assume most weren’t so far away from it while being so affected by it.
So I went into this gap year like that. And what happened was terrible: I noticed that in all my hobbies (gaming, curling, guitar, whatever) I was rather untalented and bad. I hav lots of talents in „brain stuff“, easily going through school without effort, but at the time I didn’t care about that at all. I still don’t do so much, but since I noticed that I can use writing for things I like it got a little bit better. But what was worse, and probably connected, was that I had suddenly lost my identity. I was no longer the guy who was connected to 70 people just by being a 12th grader at KS Uster. I needed to find a new one. I tried the natural way of most people and went into the things I like – which was music for me. But my musical taste is so broad that I always felt like I have to deny a part of it. I felt like I couldn’t tell the rock guys and girls about my Eurovision love. I felt like not a proper part of the reggae fans cause I’d take Nightwish over Alkaline. And being a Eurovision fan is probably not a preferable main identity for any heterosexual male teenager in the world. It correlated with searching a job first and having a job afterwards, which was a crappy McDo job sending me to the edge of my mental strength more than once. I never felt so worthless before or afterwards than while searching a job and working that job. Eventually summer came and I was travelling – first to Vienna, then around parts of Europe – and I was happy again. I was the Swiss. Suddenly I was somebody again. Somebody who had to leave his friends behind a day after he met them, and as it was an enormous achievement for me I was taking all of those encounters way too serious. If you were in Bruges at the right day, you could see me holding back tears as I thought I lost my people and then, when I found them, holding them back again. I was truly so happy about having found them.
And what is worst, I can’t help it really. I heard a thousand times „don’t worry about it, it will work out“ or „just be who you want to be“. I don’t know who I want to be. For years, I wanted to be an image that existed in my head. But I know what I want to have: the basic social skills to make friends, an identity I can identify with (and as annoyingly arrogant it sounds, I don’t want to be „normal“. Because this „normal“ pop culture has elements I hate. And they outnumber those I like.) and a social group outside my family I can trust. I want someone who loves me and who I can love, if it’s a best friend I can rely on or a relationship or whatever. But it’s a feeling I lack, and I feel like I even lack it in my family. And I want someone to cuddle, to hug me and tell me it’s okay. You might wonder how this Essena O’Neill story brought me to such thoughts, and so do I. But it did, and what shocked me the most: I was jealous of her. I am at a point I can’t read about someone who has noticed they have problems – because I get jealous as they seem to have found something they want to do. Something they can be. What I want to find.
If you ever meet me, or if you know me and sometimes are weirded out by me, please do try to accept it. I do my best, and little things you have forgotten about after five minutes might haunt me for two days. I will think you don’t want to talk to me ever again. Yes, I will be a drama queen (or king). But I try not to. And if you give me some little bits of love, chances are very big that I will give it back. And probably try to give back even more.
(Yes this text has no other purpose than to give me a way to talk about this. Yes, this text is in English as quite a few people I wanted to know don’t speak German. And if you think you have to laugh at me for this, or at anyone who feels like this, please fuck off my planet and don’t try to speak to me ever again.)