I feel silently judged

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 15, 2023, 8:40 PM | comments: 0

I was running out of multivitamins, so the other day I went to the Amazon to order some more. The first result was the "men 50+" variety, and it took a second, when I realized, fuck, that's me. It didn't feel good when they arrived either. But the other thing that came into focus is that there are, I think a lot of expectations about how you're supposed to be as you go through life, and midlife in particular seems to come with particular arbitrary expectations.

The pandemic really woke me up. I think it was the monotony of the day to day that forced me to do more with my time. I got into all kinds of new things, or revisited old things. The next year had few redeeming qualities, but I started paying way more attention to myself. I got my hypothyroidism and cholesterol under control, got a couple of tattoos, formally sought an autism and ADHD diagnosis, and ramped up therapy. Then last year, as normalcy seemed to be back, I addressed depression, made more things, thought more about the places I wanted to go. This year has been even crazier. I started making a movie, I went to Europe, I think my lighting obsession is getting serious, and I feel less constrained by the world than ever.

In other words, me, the guy that used to retreat to the comfort of safe routine, has been very busy the last few years trying new things.

It's true that in a larger sense, I've had few shits to give about how I am perceived. But there's a part of me that feels silently judged for who I am and what I'm doing with myself these days. This could be rooted in my desire to be included in things and be appreciated, which is something I've rarely felt, and might cause the indifference to how I am perceived. There's also a thing though where our culture puts people in boxes for, among other things, our age.

I have a T-shirt that says, "It's weird being the same age as old people." It's kind of a funny joke, yes, but it genuinely reflects how I feel. When I was younger, people my current age seemed dull, beat down by the world and just kind of... gave up. Some people currently my age I suppose fall into that group, but most of the people I know well in that demographic are wise, quietly dominating whatever they're into, and often pivoting to do new awesome things. I'm not sure that I can reconcile my friends and the half-century club of thirty years ago.

I still feel that sometimes the things that I do or that interest me might be perceived as immature, or a realization of and reaction to my own aging. If it's the former, you can imagine how much I care about that. Maybe it's the autism, but whatever social contracts involve constrained behavior for arbitrary reasons are not useful to me. If it's the latter, well of course I'm going to react to where I am in my life stage. How can you not seek a sense of purpose? My world view is continually expanding, and if yours is contracting as you get older, I'm gonna just call it out and say that you're doing it wrong.

So while it may be just made up in my head, I'm kinda tired of the peripheral worry that someone, somewhere, imaginary as they might be, finds me silly or immature because of the things I want to pursue. I'm delightful and interesting. I'm not gonna feel bad about that. If I'm not your cup of tea, that's fine too (because I might be filled with rum).


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