Advice

On a thoughtful critic

Hi Coke. I’ve been reading you since early 2013. Then, I was an almost-18 year old piece of shit. Now I’m a 19 year old piece of shit, albeit with about a year and a half’s worth of life experience under my belt. As I’m sure you hope a reader would, I’ve started to approach you with a skeptical eye (I didn’t really for the first year). You aren’t the sole reason—or even the main reason—that I pursued sexual experience relentlessly and enthusiastically from Fall 2013 to Spring 2014—as if in the infinity of my orgasm I would uncover the illusion of my own ego, or some shit like that. I was an asshole to boyfriends, who didn’t understand why I so wanted to fuck other guys (read: fuck as many other guys as possible), and tried to make sure that my queue of partners met as many demographic criteria as possible, so that I’d be able to brag, “I’ve fucked a 38 year old; five different races; someone in public; a father of two.”

It took me a while, but I finally realized that I was in pursuit of the story—not spirit; coolness—not compassionate vulnerability. I was a libertine because libertines are cool. I could spit the feminist justification for my escapades—and my tireless pursuit of them—with rapid ease. I dropped my sexual achievements in passing whenever I could to seem more adult, and I’d exploit men trying to ensure that my list of achievements always expanded.

I blame a lack of attention from boys throughout adolescence, and what was probably an insidious insecurity about not being desirable for what I did this past year. You’re most certainly not at fault for that. But I suppose you lost some credibility for me when I realized that your advice often kept me on that track. Specifically, I think of your celebration of libertine values; your consistent dictum, “He’s not the first and he won’t be the last” (maybe true, but I really commodified men—and I cannot stress the verb ‘commodify’ more—abiding by this philosophy); and the overall lifestyle you seemed to espouse. But you know you sell cool: from the absurd manicures to the Hollywood parties to the men. You know you’re a brand. You never claimed to be otherwise.

I’m not a hater in any sense of the word—perhaps just a thoughtful critic. I still owe you a lot: I’m much less whiny than I used to be. I write this to you now because I’m curious if you have any thoughts on this sort of problem—not justification, since I doubt I’m telling you things you don’t know. This platform isn’t really conducive to a dialogue, so I don’t expect that. Just, what do you think?

I think you should keep writing. You’re good at it. Stay a thoughtful critic without burning out. Don’t allow your skepticism to decay into cynicism.

Right now you’re establishing an identity while testing the depth of your independence. Your womanhood is freshly weaponized. Sexual exploits are still a novelty. It sounds like you may have gotten distracted by a bit too much belt notching, but that’s perfectly understandable, especially considering you seem to have learned so much from it so quickly.

You’re deep in your first period of adult self-exploration. You’re developing your own real-world moral philosophy, and that’s a good thing. I don’t see you describing a problem here. At worst, you’re describing behavior that is problematic, but you’re already ahead of the game because you recognize it.

Think of this phase as a process of amending your own personal constitution. Let the past go, let yourself change, and get good at forgiving your former self. Refer back to this every few years and appreciate how far you’ve come and how full of shit both of us were.

Again, keep writing. You’re exactly the kind of person who should.

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