Six years ago, on a sunny spring afternoon, I was watching MTV in my basement. I had a window cracked and the fresh air sauntered in a bit before settling over every stagnant thing. As I lay there, in my shorts and Queen band tee — I thought I was a badass because I listened to music that was older than me — on that brown leather couch, is when I first heard one of their songs. This was back when MTV would still play music for an hour block on Monday around 1 pm and I would always make my siblings go outside so I could listen in peace. The beginning chords to Kiss The Ring by My Chemical Romance hovered over me, overpowering the stench of life and successfully triggering my emo stoner phase. Ironically enough, I didn’t start doing drugs until after I got out of rehab.
Ever since that day, I have fallen in and out of ‘love’ with countless celebrities, and the ways they’ve presented themselves, but only one hopeless infatuation has remained consistent enough to endure the test of time. It started with me downloading every single one of their albums and steadily transformed into a, torn black skinny jeans, ratty old flannel, too much eyeliner, teenager whose mother thought she was possessed. No joke, she actually had a priest from our cult perform an exorcism on me. Most of my time was spent hanging around kids who were too high to notice my soberness, bragging about sleeping around with said stoners who were too far gone to know I was still a virgin, and mouthing off to my parents — specifically my mother. My lock screen was Mikey Way encircled with pentagrams and I would always mutter incoherent chants during family prayers where the only discernable words were, “Hail Satan.” Hence the fear that I was possessed.
Now, I’m frighteningly close to being 21. I moved out of my parent’s basement, stopped wearing eyeliner altogether, and started taking care of myself. Even though I still imagine myself sitting cross-legged on a giant kitchen island with a very specific punk rock drummer, something about it feels different. Yes, these made up scenarios keep me going throughout the day and help me fall asleep at night, but it seems slanted somehow. Like the things in my head won’t ever be real and there’s nothing I can do to change that. It used to be easier to see these men as mere fragments of my imagination. They didn’t used to be anything more than figures on a screen, voices that sang me to sleep at night or talked me down from a panic attack. Now they’re more human.
As I’ve come to be more and more okay with myself, it’s gotten harder and harder to skim through fanfics or google search relationship status’. Dehumanizing the musicians I listened to, and putting them on pedestals, made it easier for me to dehumanize myself. The thought process was something along the lines of, “I don’t deserve to be human or have anything good, but that’s okay because this other person deserves to be superhuman and have everything good.” or “I’m allowed to hate myself for not being human because I love so and so for being superhuman.” Both of which are wildly inaccurate and harmful ideas to have.
Everybody wants to be heard or acknowledged to some extent, and as a species, I believe our fatal flaw is to never know when enough is enough. We are all either too passive or too aggressive, each of which is destructive on its own terms. Humans don’t seem to know when to stop wanting more and be happy with what they have, and fame seems to be the universe’s way of saying, “Fine. Here. You want to be heard so badly? Now that’s the only thing you’ll ever be.” And we are all too foolish to recognize what an incredible cost a gift like that comes at. Everything has its price and we have forgotten how to count what something is worth. We are reckless in our actions and don’t remember how to be decent to each other. I’m not sure we ever knew what that was, to begin with.