Over the last few months, I’ve started to notice a pretty melancholic trend amongst our millennial generation. This won’t come as a shock to you, as all the ‘I’m dead inside’ memes have been circulating for a while now. But, as I’ve been meeting more people recently, I’ve began to notice it more and more. Our generation seems obsessed with being that distant, cool character from Noir films, hiding a sinister and mysterious past that always ends up getting (conveniently) discovered. You know the one, taking long drags of cigarettes (or e-cigs because cool people need to protect their lungs too), seeming to have little interest in anything (unless it’s Instagramming grey-scale objects or landscapes) and trying our best to avoid the totally uncool snort-laugh (sometimes will little success).
But why the obsession? What has led us to this grey, serious state? Why do we seem to be in a culture fearful of intimacy, where ‘loving too much’ is cringey and we should just get drunk, have sex and live life with resting bitch face?
Let’s not rule out the possibility that our obsession with all things moody and emotional could be residue from our emo pasts. Although the ‘XD’ faces on MSN and MySpace, the side-fringe and the black nail-varnish is long gone, maybe the ‘no-one understands me’ phase, is still with us in spirit.
Maybe it’s just a coming of age thing. As we stumble into adulthood we’re actually having our hearts broken, as opposed to crying because our year 8 crush didn’t sit near us on the coach to Blackpool. Things are changing, and for a lot of us, it’s pretty hard to take in.
Now, I’m not saying that we aren’t justified to be cynical. So many people are struggling; either with grief from losing a loved one or a relationship, insecurities and low self-esteem, difficult family situations, financial or academic pressure and/or problems with mental illness. It seems natural that, even with just one of these things happening, we’re going to want help. The whole noir, ‘I have problems but no one will ever know, unless you ask me then I’ll tell you’ is just an attempt to ask for help whilst trying to maintain social status. And it’s here that I find the problem.
Why do we feel embarrassed about needing help?
In my previous post, I talked about the positivity of negative emotions, especially anger, and I’d say that there’s also a positivity in feeling sadness. Sadness is such a beautiful thing. It’s emotional and reflective and delicate. When we get sad, we want to know that people care and I know that this noir attitude is just a way of trying to get that help without feeling embarrassed. But, how can we show genuine caring emotion if we’re all distant? Hiding behind makeshift emotional barriers, desperate for someone to tear them down, isn’t going to help anyone and will only end up in us losing ourselves. These walls built us a comfort zone of appearing ‘unbothered’, easily criticising the ‘bothered’ and passionate, causing a knock-on effect of insecurity.
So why not try and change it? Why not stop criticising people for being different and instead admire them? Why don’t we be active in pulling down walls, including our own? Instead of being scared to wear bright colours unless they’re approved by fashion or seen as ‘edgy’, being seen as passionate about anything (especially if it isn’t indie music), playing down talents and quivering at complements; why don’t we dance in colour, reject embarrassment and instead accept, love and understand ourselves fully and let that confidence and openness pass on to everyone else? Let’s stop being emotionally distant, pretending we care about nothing because we care so much. Love everything and have actual fun, not a ‘re-enacting what they did in this film I saw’ kind of fun.
So, push yourself and don’t be scared to sing, dance to N-Sync jams in your room, smile and talk to random people, wear whatever makes you happy, live in colour and most of all love! Stop holding yourself back and love!