All posts by Lauren Stepka

About Lauren Stepka

Your go-to for an excellent event! Above all, Under the Sea Entertainment strives for customer satisfaction. Please contact us with any questions and requests. We will make every effort to accommodate your needs.

A College Student’s Humble (i.e. pretentious) Musing . Subtitle: The nature of living

I’ve been spending an increasing amount of time deep in the throws of the inter web lately. 

I like to look up job openings in the area most of which I’m not at all qualified for. Part of the reason I do it is to try to drowned out all the voices of the liberal media screaming about the over saturated job market for college graduates. After a failed “finding myself” venture at a summer camp out east, I’m back at my parents for the summer contemplating whether or not I will ever develop the capabilities necessary to contribute to society. Googling “jobs for college graduates in minneapolis” and then systematically sifting through them in my sweatpants has become cathartic. It assures me that there are plenty of opportunities for a young person to seek out. Each job posting is the promise of a potential future I could someday have.

The unfortunate paradox of my coping strategy is that the time I waste perusing my options is time I could use to develop marketable skills. Additionally, the instant access to thousands of postings doesn’t make it any easier for me to declare a major. No matter what they say about a majority of people not working in their field of study, I can’t shake the anxiety that the degree will define my future. Which leads me to the next little slice of the cliche psychosis informing this post. 

When I make a decision regarding my future, am I determining or altering how it eventually will play out…?

The nature of living is complicated, but I’m just a whiny college student. What do I know.

 

Saggy butts

Today I learned it’s ok to have fun.

You may be wondering what having fun has to do with saggy butts. Off the top of my head I would direct your attention to the middle aged women shaking their tail feathers at my mother’s zumba class.

However, the real reason for this post’s title is my fear of falling behind.

Get it?

It’s been a while.

Helloooo! Unfortunate soul who happened to stumble upon my humble internet abode, I’ve missed sinking my metaphorical brain teeth into you.

Wow, that came out way weirder than I intended it to…but there are enough parties out there who will try to censor my thoughts for me, there’s no reason I should do it to myself. Therefore, the creepy metaphorical teeth stay.

I’ve been doing a lot of not thinking lately. By that I mean I’ve been doing anything and everything to get as far away as possible from the eight billion random thoughts that choose to stake a claim on my brain at any given second.

Its really easy to be consumed by worry; controlled and driven by it. Anxiety is a construct relatively unique to humans. It depends on our ability to make an abstract concept, in this case time, concrete. Other living organisms live simply to survive, to propagate the existence of their species. As humans though, we have somehow developed the notion that it is not enough to simply exist or to exist simply. For whatever reason, we are driven to thrive, and thus, complicate. This leads to the search for purpose, the desire to build a meaningful life. The problem is that in this world we have given ourselves the illusion of being masters of our own fate. We define our identities and worth based upon accomplishments. We measure accomplishments in terms of material and experiences, and then seek the approval of our peers to confirm that we are “on the right track”.

Who can we trust though, if not ourselves? We hunger for the stamp of approval from whatever outer force, be it bosses, professors, family, or friends. Lately though, I’ve been starting to wonder if I’ve been trying to substitute approval (in effect, love) for happiness (in effect, fulfillment). I worry I may be too impulsive about making changes, I worry about being a disappointment, I worry about not living meaningfully. Now I’m starting to wonder if perhaps these thoughts are telling me that this isn’t the right place for me. If I felt confident about the path I’m on right now, I wouldn’t worry about failing. I’m starting to realize that to me, the journey is more important than the destination. I’m being told to look ahead, but from what I know about myself, I can’t be happy unless I live each day as a crystal clear snapshot of my existence. If I keep living a life the way I feel I’m “supposed” to, I’ll look back on a bunch of the stock photos that come in frames purchased from a department store. I’m sorry, maybe to some people having the means to purchase a fancy gilded frame that society designed and then made 6 billion copies of is satisfying. I’m starting to think that I might be happier building my own, even if that means its made of popsicle sticks and pipe-cleaners. At least it would be mine, authentic and visceral. I would know the story of how each bit of it came to be and could trust what it was capable of, because I knew how it was built. I wouldn’t worry about it not being able to live up to the standards set for it, because I would be the one defining the standards. I would never say “Whoa there Nellie, slow ‘er down! You’re gonna overflow the standard one-size fits all picture frame mold that we are currently using as a metaphor for a socially acceptable formative life path and get the work station (which represents my parents and other institutions in their attempts to raise me into a respectable citizen) all messy”. I would say, “nothing is stopping you from becoming the rhinestone and feather covered piece of art that you instinctively feel is a more valuable contribution to society”(albeit maybe less impressive if measured by the (shallow?) definitions of successful (drone-like) existences created out of convenience), and then I would go out and buy my elmers glue and feathers and start getting my hands dirty.

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations. If you didn’t, I’m going to hot glue some of my rhinestones to your perfectly boring metal frame so  I can watch you freak out trying to clean it off and using the guy next doors for a reference of said boring perfection.

If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

If you can’t claim yourself as your own creation, why bother *being* at all? There’s no point in being a copy, especially a shitty one. A copy has no worth, except for what it borrows from its comparison to the original. And who can even pinpoint what the original actually is anymore? Those of us tired of trying to fool ourselves certainly can’t.

So there’s the latest from my pretentious, overactive, rarely satiated mind, folks.

Live long, [create], and prosper.

Epiphanies.

1. You don’t have to feel obligated to entertain someone who is interested in you. If you don’t love someone, set them free.

2. The world is a disgustingly beautiful phenomenon. It’s almost oppressive in the limitless possibilities. The intricate and delicate balance of beauty and pain is awesome. (Awesome as in it instills awe and wonder. Not as in the colloquial “Hey Dude, awesome news; Johnny scored a gram from some kid in his remedial mathematics for soon-to-be dropouts class” kind of way)

3. I don’t have to be an opera singer right now. Just because a lot of the people I spend time with are set on going to grad school and obsessing about their careers and whatnot doesn’t mean I can’t take my life one day at a time. The voice doesn’t typically mature until the late 20’s or early 30’s. I could decide in ten years that I want to go back to school for performance, and if I work hard enough, still have a viable career on stage. If pursuing this field of study doesn’t feel right to me, I don’t have to study it!!! I am obligated to no one else’s happiness but my own. It’s a remarkable realization for me.

4. I don’t need to feel guilty for enjoying life as a college student. I don’t have to feel guilty for not taking on more responsibility. Each day brings what it brings, and all I can do is look that day in the face and say “Hey DAY, I am ready to take you on with passion and verve for living a meaningful existence”. And that is enough. I am allowed to enjoy a relaxing or less than technically productive day, because I am learning about myself and life in the process. Simply existing is enough as long as I do not take it for granted.

5. I have time. As long as I’m careful not to get hit by a car within the next few years, I’m not going to die as a sorry excuse for a citizen of the world. I will contribute to the world, but I may have to wait a few years. 

The thing about epiphanies is that someone can try to teach you something for years, but until something inside a person finally snaps into place they can’t claim that knowledge for their own. Its kind of tragic to know that we can’t always save others, but empowering to know that we can will eventually learn to heal ourselves if we put in enough effort.

Today, acknowledge the beauty and gift of time. We may not think we have much, but there’s no other way to stay sane than to trust that it is enough.

There’s a phenomenon developing that has been especially noticeable to me the past few weeks. Relationships are about instant gratification now more than ever. Its so easy and convenient to contact someone when we need or want something from them.  Forget making plans, just wait until you’re bored and send a booty text.

Call me a cynic; but these days, people just want to be entertained.

I’m not saying that meaningful relationships are impossible to find nowadays, but its become very easy too evade them should that be your (conscious or subconscious) goal. Not only that, but hiding behind our technology means its easier to manipulate and be manipulated. We do it to others,  and we do it to ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, I’m of the “human nature is basically sort of not all that douche-y” school of thought (refer to the philosophy of my man, Rosseau, if you’re into all that academia crapola). Sometimes though, we’re too smart for our own good. We abuse the power of technology and our intelligence at the expense of empathetic behavior.

I sense a lot of people, young ones especially, seeking fulfillment in their lives. As douche-y as that makes me sound, I really do.  Naturally, we look for the easiest way to accomplish this task.

To be alive is to be a contradiction. We hunger for what is illogical, but then try to use logical means to find it. To be a person of substance isn’t easy in today’s world.

T.V., Social Media, Substances, Celebrity and Sex. We look to all of these things to offer us a little glimpse of our purpose.

And what do we find?

T.V., Social Media, Substances, Celebrity and Sex. All these things try to tell us that we need more. They tell us that happiness is instant gratification of our basest desires. The reduce us to processing only the very top layer of our psyches.

I’m sorry, but that sucks.

The brain is like an onion. The outside layer is covered in dirt and bruised by whatever abrasive force it comes in contact with. No one in their right mind would ever use it to cook with. Peel off this layer, and you get closer to the usable core. After navigating the outer layers, one finally reaches the flavorful center. Sweet and Pure, this is where the worth of the onion lies. This is the part we should simmer in the sauce pans of our lives. When we rely on the superficial gratification, we are trying to sauté the flaky, dirty outer layer. The result? A dish that leaves bad flavors in your mouth and a lot to be desired.

I have a friend who I have only ever spent time with when he was intoxicated or high. I have another friend who needs to validate every experience she has on instagram. Maybe they think they’re happy. But what is “being happy”? Is it constantly hiding from the extra work it might take to untangle the knot we call our personal “identity”? I don’t think so.

I know I could benefit a lot from taking a look at my cooking habits right now. Maybe you could too. What part of the onion have you been using to flavor your dish?

Food for thought.