Allison Coyle

The well established conformists path is the easy one, it has been traveled many times and its rewards are mediocre at best.

Kindred Spirits

smoking

As a budding writer (otherwise known as an intern), I feel the need to stretch my legs and relax my mind when time allows. Seemingly obligatory in this line of work, and perhaps it’s an affectation, but I’m convinced that smoking helps clear one’s mind and get you prepared for the task at hand. Some may think it a tool of procrastination; I think otherwise.

As I walked around the block today, I couldn’t help but notice the other smokers around me. At one point in the past, I may have sheltered the smoke from a passerby, primarily out of embarrassment that I had stooped to such a societal low as to smoke (in public, none the less). Yet today, I found myself smoking proudly, as I tipped my nonexistent hat to my fellow smokers as they passed. People have preconceived notions of smokers…that they’re destined to develop lung cancer and either die or, possibly worse, depending who you ask, wind up with one of those scary voice boxes. Non-smokers don’t seem to understand that it is possible to smoke socially without becoming addicted.

This is all beside the point. I realized today, perhaps for the first time, that we’re a fascinating group, us smokers. I find something romantic in the idea of lighting up a cigarette as you sit down to write. Each inhalation provides inspiration. The dwindling cigarette challenges you to either finish your thought or fire up the next cigarette to carry you through the battlefield of ideas. It’s a race of sorts, you see…finishing your cigarette in unison with your writing. Something tells me this entry would be significantly more profound had I a cigarette in hand.

Celebrate your youth, my fellow degenerates. Bask in your mistakes. With each drag, drink in the inspiration of Hemingway, Eliot, Cummings, Steinbeck, and Serling.

It may be a short life, but damn if it won’t be well-lived.

Happiness

I often hear motivational figures say, “Don’t tie your happiness to a person or thing.” And I’ve always championed this line of thinking. Yet I myself am guilty of this very thing. Upon reflection, I realize that my happiness is tied solely to people. I tend to harness all of my expectations of happiness upon people who I lionize; within a few months, I become disenchanted with those individuals whom I had placed on a pedestal not long ago. Why do I do this? More importantly, I know that I do this…yet I continue to do so. I know my weakness, and yet I feel powerless against myself.

“Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.” ― Ernest Hemingway

Uncertainty

I’m feeling particularly lost today, in every sense. I haven’t the faintest idea where my current trajectory will take me, and to be honest, I’m not sure that I want to know. While the day-to-day slog is exhausting and frustrating, the only thing worse than not being settled in life is being settled. What will become of me once I’ve landed a 9 to 5 job, settled down with a husband, and had children? Will I become one of those women who reluctantly moves to suburbia, blaming my spouse for my inevitable realization that I’ve fallen short of my own expectations? Or will I lose all sense of self, inexplicably transformed into a happy individual by the “miracle” and “wonder” childbirth? 

What concerns me most is that I have yet to encounter another person who shares my fear…my chronic internal panic that threatens to dislodge my sense of stability on any given day. The moment I feel I’ve taken a step forward in my life, a new specter begins to haunt me, like clockwork.

Will I ever be able to run fast enough to escape from myself?

Ya Hey – Vampire Weekend

Ezra Koenig is my muse.

Greatness

I want to put a ding in the universe.

 

 While the aforementioned statement is not my own, I can certainly relate to the sentiment. When I was little, I assumed that everyone had illusions of grandeur. I assumed that everyone aspired to greatness, that everyone wanted to “put a ding in the universe.” It wasn’t until quite recently that I realized how few actually do.

 While I’ve complained for years that I feel out of place amongst my peers, my first conscious encounter with complacency occurred about a month ago. It wasn’t an isolated conversation that caught my attention; it was the sheer volume of people I seemed to be running into who shared a collectively disappointing view. The majority of people in their early to mid 20s (those in D.C., anyway) seem to aspire to graduate college and find a 9 to 5 job. They aspire to pay their bills. Nothing more. I spoke with my dad about a week ago about this disheartening realization, and he didn’t understand what I meant when I asked, “When you were my age, did you feel rushed to make an impact? Did you ever feel like you were running out of time? That you needed to find your niche in life before it was too late?” I was met with a blank stare. My own 52 year-old dad doesn’t understand what the hell I’m talking about. How am I to expect my 20 year-old peers to relate?

 This brings me to my final observation. When you were in school, whether it be primary school or high school, did teachers approach you with a certain level of concern? Did they tell your parents that you acted strangely (in my case, quiet and seemingly sad)? Did they scold you for not getting along/playing with the other children? Were you punished for being disrespectful because you felt the need to ask questions like, “Why are we doing this? What is the end game in learning this?” Did they advise your parents to address whatever “problems” you seemed to be facing so that you could relate to the other children “normally?” In your day to day life, have you noticed patterns deemed “abnormal” by your peers or society at large? Do you become easily distracted or obsessed (passionate) with your hobbies/interests? 

 While I’ve long made a concerted effort to question societal norms, I’m beginning to take my questions a step further. Who is to say that these “disorders” or “abnormalities” are a bad thing? Is it so horrible to be passionate about life, about wanting to do something big? Or are we being subdued and tied down by those weaker in mind and spirit? Is my inability to moderate my addictive personality a weakness or is it a sign of bigger things to come? While others approach their interests in a calculated, methodical way, I feel the need to take things a step (or ten) further. Case in point: when I like someone, I LIKE someone. While most people become gradually interested in a person, I fangirl and feel the need to immediately tell them how smart and witty and brilliant they are…which typically freaks them out.

 But while my addictive personality has caused a few setbacks in my life, it has also acted as a catalyst. I wouldn’t have landed these internships or met the amazing people that I have without having a passionate distrust of the college education system. I wouldn’t have hounded so many organizations for internships had I just gone to college with my peers. I wouldn’t be sitting in Newt Gingrich’s office, pondering my existence if not for my “disorders.”

 Thanks to my weaknesses, I will put a ding in the universe.

“The well estab…

“The well established conformists path is the easy one, it has been traveled many times and its rewards are mediocre at best.

“The path of the freethinker, the adventurer, the one that dares to go against all the odds, however, has not yet been mapped out and as such must be created out of pure first hand experience, which is often times expressed unjustly as failure.

“Do not be deterred but press on! Your ‘failures’ are making you stronger, wiser and enriching you with experience that few humans will ever know, and it is through these experiences that you will ultimately reach your goal.”