How absurdism taught me to embrace the chaos in my life

“A little boy in a cowboy suit, writing in a puddle with a stick, a dog approaching. Deaf or dumb, the boy is, like anyone, a little timid, partly stupid, ashamed, afraid, like us, like you. He is there. Picture the boy. See his eyes. Sympathize with his little closes. Now, break his arm. Picture violin section. The violins are on fire. (The following is said almost without anger as if it’s just another request) Now go fuck yourselves.”
Thom Pain (Based on Nothing), Will Eno.

That’s a little absurdism for you there. The next few lines go into the character trying to sound like he’s fine, but he really isn’t. He is spiraling while trying to understand the colloquial term ‘whatever’ because he thinks it will describe how he wants to feel. Did you get that? I hope so. Because underneath the strangeness is a deep vulnerability– and joy in being alive. 

It doesn’t want to have a purpose, it embraces being purposeless.

At its core, absurdism is rooted in social activism and rebellion against the norm. At a time when everyone was taking art very seriously and enforcing standards on artist’s practices, absurdists challenged the system. They said, what if we make an art form that defies expectations by being intentionally bizarre? When everything around us is so devoid of reason, embracing irrationality and strangeness may be the next best thing. 

With the current pandemic, there is little that we can control. At first, I felt so powerless against it all. That’s when I turned to absurdism. It doesn’t want to have a purpose, it embraces being purposeless. The Dadaist slogan of “art for art’s sake” and absurdism’s love of nonsense is exactly the type of energy we need to be bringing into our lifestyles. 

Absurdism taught me to embrace chaos and life not making sense (most of the time). I spent most of my life, as I expect a majority of you did, trying to assign value to myself by the things that I achieved and the decisions I made. Wanting my life to mean something, I quickly grew desperate when things did not turn out as I imagined.

Absurdism taught me to embrace chaos and life not making sense (most of the time).

Take, for instance, applying to jobs or sharing creative work. There is a powerlessness that I feel every single time. I can’t help but think that I am putting myself out there to be judged– which I am, to a certain extent. Recently, after being ghosted by a couple of jobs I had applied to, I was starting to fear that the rest of the year would be the same. All my efforts seemed to be in vain. Keen to maintain a certain image I had of my life, I started reaching out to places that I had no interest in. But I soon became so thankful that things turned out the way they did when a professor reached out to me, excited to have me on board to work on her screenplay– something I deeply enjoyed doing.

Like that last line by Will Eno, I often forgot that life was full of surprises. I learned to be okay with it. More than that, to be happy.

By reading absurdist writers, I embraced the joy of being surprised. I found humor in unexpected things. There was a strength in accepting chaos that I did not find anywhere else. When it seems like the year is going entirely on its own path, I cling to these teachings more than ever. We can’t be stubborn and try to force the year to go in the direction we want it to. We are doing more damage by pulling on the leash and digging our feet into the ground then if we let loose a little and see where the year is headed. 

All in all, when things don’t work out, whether it is with your school, career, or relationship prospects, remind yourself that having ‘nothing’ going on shouldn’t be terrible. Just take Daniil Kharm’s The Red-Haired Man, where at the end he admits that he is writing nonsense and gives up entirely. This poem has gotten me out of all types of ruts, both creative and personal.

We can all take a note from absurdism. If we embrace chaos in this way, we can enhance our own sense of wellbeing.

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Love + Sex Love Life Stories

Have you ever felt unrequited love?

Usually when I think of unrequited love, I think of something great. Some sort of grand story full of catharsis. Unrequited is generally special.

A type of love that demands to be talked about for an eternity. Something electric, with compulsive wavelengths. Something like the movies that comes with its own playlist attached to it.

Something with late and long nights spent together in a damp minivan twinkling and spitting out dreams on a whim. Something with vicious fights fueled by our own desire. Something that makes my soul open up just as swiftly as it gets torn apart. And, somehow I wind up bursting at the seams yet feel completely unsatisfied. I always want more. 

Why do we long for the type of love that hurts so much it imprints our hearts? It is difficult to locate the line that separates struggle and triumph, as nearly every love story in popular media blurs the two. But unrequited love is so unbelievably magnificent and sad at the same time that it becomes all encompassing.

Unrequited love is an entire body, overwhelming, feeling. I have broken hearts before and I have had my heart broken, so I can tell you that the feeling never fades, one way or the other. It feels as if you are running fast, and for a long time, yet making no distance at all.

One time I waited two months for a guy to message me back before I realized that he just wasn’t going to. Ever. Again. And that entire time I couldn’t help but wonder why I cared so much. What we had wasn’t at all special, but I still was left longing for a distraction from the heartbreak. I was showered by his passivity instead of his kisses and I wanted him to know how much his absence hurt me, but he was so equally careless and carefree that none of it mattered.

Not even for a second. 

I felt unrequited love again while in a long-distance relationship. This kind of unrequited was different. It wasn’t one-sided. Instead, we felt tremendously for each other. It’s just that our bodies weren’t able to be physically together for some time. We were only long distance for the few months that I would be studying abroad, but it felt like an eternity. I remember being there and using all of my senses to try to gauge what his touch felt like.

Somedays I would wake up and watch the sun from my window, silently knowing that that same sun wouldn’t bounce to him for another six hours, and I would recall how that same sun looked dancing across his back at dawn. I’d lay in bed at night and want to tell him about my day, but I knew that I couldn’t. I was constantly reminded that he no longer took up the space in between my arms when we slept. But I was, and still am, fascinated by the immediate consumption of these moments. I am so grateful to have given him my heart. He still has it. 

The extent of passion is practically boundless. We should feel like we can fly on a whim, or scream and dance, when we are in love. Unrequited love just forces you to confront that intensity, those struggles and triumphs, head on. Some of it is beautiful; some not so much. I like to remind myself that love doesn’t need a reason, love just is. 

Unrequited love is messy, but worth it. It is a collection of fleeting moments. It teaches us that all love should be leaking, dripping, through every difficulty yet also a thread that is continuously weaving through and connecting our bodies and our souls. The whole point of longing is to continue, because there will always be potential to love someone rather than to have loved someone. They can’t be the one that got away if they weren’t the one in the first place.

Love + Sex Love Life Stories

I was ghosted by my soulmate – after he promised we’d be together forever

The moment he told me the news – that he was to be transferred to another state, I was crushed. It was far away from where we both lived, on the other side of the country. We were both unhappy about it and in a second, everything just turned gloomy.

I was hoping for him to stay when he said he was going to refuse the job transfer. But the hope was broken as his employer’s decision was final. With great reluctance, he had to agree. It was either that or find another job. We couldn’t let that happened just for the sake of our unwillingness, so sacrifice had to be made.

For his own good, I had let him go.

The first two months were tough, living far away from each other while still trying to keep in touch. We couldn’t live without hearing each other’s voices every day and we had video chats every week. At first, we were talking about adjusting to our new long-distance relationship. We shared stories about what happening to us every day. Sometimes we stayed on the phone, without talking but just doing our own thing.

It felt as if we were next to each other. It was nice to feel his presence, just not as much as before.

But it was better than nothing.

On the third month, he started to get busier. He gave excuses for working overtime or being sick. We stopped video chatting, and then our phone calls got less and less until we finally stopped talking completely. The only thing we did was texting, but it wasn’t as much as the first two months.

That’s all we did for the whole third month. On the fourth month, we barely texted. There was no longer good morning or good night texts like he used to do. It took him hours to finally reply to my messages, sometimes he ignored it. But I was the one to text him first the whole time. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t hear anything from him at all.

At first, I thought it was nothing. I believed him when he said he was getting busier. But it had been two months and I could feel that something was wrong. As if he tried to avoid from talking to me. Or that he found someone new. I convinced myself that it wasn’t true and he wasn’t a cheater. But I couldn’t shake the feeling.

I started to have a fear of losing him.

Until one day, he blocked me.

He completely blocked me in everything. My number and all my social media. He made sure that I could never reach him.

I couldn’t describe the intense the shock, the pain, and the heartbreak. It was so overwhelming. I tried everything to find him but to no avail. He really wanted to completely cut me out of his life.

Broken-hearted, I waited for him. For weeks I sat on my bed, staring at my phone and waiting for his name to pop up on the screen. I locked myself in my bedroom. I spent my time in tears as I hopelessly waited for him to contact me. At the same time, there were a lot of questions on my mind.

What is happening? Did something happen to him? How could he do this to me? What have I done wrong? Does he not love me anymore?

After what seemed like an eternity, I came into a realization – I’d been ghosted.

He was just gone. He left me confused and powerless. It was torture – living in ambiguity after what he did. I still kept hoping he’d contact me, but I knew the chance was nil. To say my life was miserable was an understatement.

Ghosting is the worst way to break up with someone and it was selfish for him to do that, leaving without saying anything. Our relationship ended without closure. He didn’t let me have a say in it. I questioned my self-worth because I felt disrespected. Was I not even worthy enough to merit a breakup?

To me, this was absolute emotional cruelty.

But in the end, I realized that I wasn’t at fault in this. Being ghosted says nothing about my worthiness or my value. There was nothing wrong with me. If anything, it was he who didn’t have the courage to deal.

It took me forever to completely get over being ghosted. The only thing I could do was to let go and focus on the things that make me happy. And that’s good enough closure for me.

It has to be.

Mind Love + Sex Love Advice

The five-step guide for what to do when you’ve been ghosted

Ghosting (definition adapted from Urban Dictionary):

A term used to describe when a person one has been seeing for a while stops taking calls and answering their texts. These actions are usually preceded by many a broken promise to “hang out” or “catch up” on the part of the Ghoster. The Ghostee is left wondering whether the person that who was infatuated with them two weeks ago is now alive or dead. Neither can be definitively proven.

Ghosting is a huge part of life in the 21st century. If you have dated anyone in this millennium, ghosting is practically the calling card of our generation. A study published in Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that out of about 1,300 study participants, 25% had ghosted people, and 20% of respondents had been ghosted themselves. Ghosting does not only refer to romantic situations, but also to friendships, being flaky and not following up in situations in general.

We know it’s rude and that we shouldn’t do it, but we do.

When you are the ghost, it is an easier tactic than dealing with your problems directly. But when you get ghosted, it’s really hurtful, especially when it is by someone who you really care about. Maybe you are going through a breakup, maybe it is a former friend, or perhaps it is just someone who you thought cared about you more than they evidently do.

As a recent Ghostee, I can attest to the awfulness of reaching out to someone for support only to find that they’ve disappeared, but I can also attest to the fact that I’m over it. Now that I’ve made it through, I’ve compiled five easy steps to help you get through being ghosted, so you can bounce back and continue to be the fabulous person that you are!

 1. Accept it. You’ve been ghosted.

Oprah saying What

In every process towards self-actualization, you must first accept the situation you are in. No, their phone hasn’t stopped receiving texts; sorry, they aren’t “super busy”; nope, this wasn’t a mistake. Unfortunately, you have been well and truly ghosted. It’s really hard to let go of the idea that this person has let you down and failed you, but this fundamental acceptance is necessary to move on.

 2. Feel angry/sad/disappointed/hurt/frustrated.

Liz Lemon saying "Everything is the worst"

This is an incredibly important step. Let yourself feel all that you need to. Of course you’re upset – how dare they?!

At this stage you might find yourself in denial again – check the text you sent, it says “Delivered,” but WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? You will wonder what you did wrong, but the truth is, you did not do anything to warrant the unpredictable disappearance of a friend from your life.

 3. Think about how to respond.

Rey from star wars thinking

Resist the urge to keep pursuing the issue. It will only make you feel worse. You do not need to subject yourself to more negative emotions.

Truly, if someone cared about you, you would not begin to doubt their affection due to a lack of communication.

 4. Decide that the best reaction is none at all.

Beyonce hair flip

Trying to get that person to remember how wonderful you are is not going to make things better. You should never have to make a case for yourself in order to get someone else to treat you with the respect that you deserve. If you have to do that, they clearly do not respect you enough to begin with.

Also, the fact that your values do not align on foundational matters, such as communication, shows that you two are perhaps incompatible for any sort of relationship – romantic, or otherwise.

 5. Realize that you are a badass.

Girls walking like a badass

You never have to tell someone, “Hey! Come back! I am worth it!” because, it’s true, you are worth it. You have to know that. No one else can validate that for you.

You do not need someone back in your life who can hurt you like that, or who can make you feel unwanted, or insecure. Anyone who can make you feel inferior in any way, or make you doubt yourself, is not a friend. Even if the Ghost comes back in your life, the fact that they have had that impact on you, and have been able to mess with your feelings, means that there is nothing left to salvage.

I believe that the second you lose confidence in a relationship, it’s over. As soon as you stop trusting someone, it’s over. If you get suspicious, it’s over.

Continue to be awesome, immerse yourself in activities that make you feel great about yourself, and realize you are much better off without the negative energy in your life.

The one thing that you can do that makes you a real badass, is to say, “Yeah, you ghosted me. You are going to miss me. This is your loss. I do not need you.”