Guest Ranting Bastard writes:Janice Erlbaum, Koren Zailckas and Amanda Marquit, and one day she’ll do something about it. With a bit of pressure, this entry will become part of a zine. With a lot of pressure, it will be the introduction to the book I want her to write...)
This all began with a paragraph I read in an Emma Forrest novel, Namedropper.
IT FELT LIKE EXAM RESULT DAY AND EVERYONE HAD AMAZING GRADES EXCEPT ME. YOU KNOW: "SHE HAS CYSTIC FIBROSIS, HE HAS WATER ON THE BRAIN, AND HER IN THE CORNER, SHE SUFFERS FROM MIDDLE-CLASS ANXIETY."
Sad as it is to admit, it struck a cord with me. Middle-class anxiety. I am definitely a sufferer. Me, & most of my friends – we went to middle-class schools, were raised by middle-class families; we had opportunities, education. & we spent a lot of time unable to breathe, struggling with dizzying panic attacks & a never ending sense of impeding doom. Why?
This is an examination of the phenomenon that is middle-class anxiety. A study on the nature of us young girls, struggling to find ourselves. Reading Plath, reading Wurtzel, reading Girl, Interrupted & all those things that now seem so clichéd and thinking to ourselves, me too. Oh my god, me too.
Being seemingly without problems has led simply to a whole new set of problems. We have full bellies, and we choose not to eat. We get sent to the best shrinks in town, and still we want to die.
For years now I've been struggling to even accept these things as "valid". I read Alice Walkers essays about life as an African American in Mississippi & the struggles she faced/faces & I think, "my life is not a problem". I read articles about starving African babies, AIDS patients, boys who get beaten up for holding their boyfriends hands, and I think… "my issues are not valid."
But what if they are? What if we stop treating the soiled debutant as just another stupid cliché, as a joke, as someone who does not count? Because she does. For some reason she is not ok, and when someone is not ok, it is always serious. She needs to be examined, she needs to be helped. She needs to stop being something we'll "grow out of", because even if we do we'll still carry her around in our hearts forever. She'll always be a part of us. And she needs to know that she matters, she needs to know that she matters very much. She is me, she is me, she is me.