Watch a lot of TV. A lot. Don’t just watch one episode, watch all the episodes. Watch from the very first to the very last. Watch the whole series. At once. Twice. But don’t just watch the series. Become the series. Don’t just come to know the characters, come to know yourself through the characters. And then do it over and over again with another series and then another. Once you start understanding your life as a narrative, it will make a lot more sense.
Take the incomplete. Abort. Let the half-finished, half-assed projects pile up around you. Make things difficult for yourself. Self-sabatoge. Fail. Fail often.
Like this blog: Did I really think I would want to maintain this tongue in cheek, self help voice indefinitley? Did I really think THIS was the blog I wanted as my name .com?
No. The point is, I didn’t think. Learning not to think and to be spontaneous is difficult, but important. It teaches you how to adapt. You must throw yourself passionately into things and then leave them just as passionately. Abandon with reckless abandon.
Rip it up and start over.
The nearest and cheapest, if you’re not already there. Baltimore, Pitttsburg, Boston, Chicago. New York is too crowded and your chances of falling into serious debt, addiction, depression or prostitution are far too likely.
Use your retail/restaurant experience to get a job and your drop-out street cred to get some friends/roommates. In the city, you’ll cultivate your angst and get plenty of fodder for your art.
It should only take a year or two to realize you’re in way over your head. Drop out. College makes a lot more sense for people over 25 (at least), anyway. The best part about youth is that it’s yours to waste and you’re just dumb enough to do it. Finishing college right away in four years is the quickest way to force you into a dull, grown-up life of 9-5 and business casual khaki.
Don’t take all the college at once. It’s nice to save some college for later, as you’re going to want it to go back to (maybe more than once). Getting kicked out for something simple like drinking or smoking pot is alright, but anything more serious may alert the law and/or mental health officials. Remember, it’s important to stay under the radar. Also, you can always TELL people you got kicked out in order to gain more credibility once you’ve moved to the nearest city and met your fellow derelicts.
Major in something interesting, yet impractical; like English, Philosophy, or Art History. It doesn’t really matter because you won’t be going to class much or graduating. Don’t go anywhere too fancy where you may make connections, and don’t go to a trade school where you may learn a marketable skill. A nice state school will work just fine. The goal here is to get out of your parents home and meet fellow derelicts (read as, make drug connections) while incurring just enough in school loans to keep you cash poor for a decade or so. Embrace the “college life” (read as, binge drinking), and enjoy yourself! But don’t get too used to it, you won’t be there long.
Not a career. Paradoxically, you must not live up to your potential in order to exceed it. Do work you feel is beneath you and be underpaid. Find something menial that doesn’t require or develop any special or particularly marketable skills. Retail and restaurant work is excellent for maintaining stasis.
Crappy jobs are essential to wasting your youth for eventual success. Here, you may shine just a bit (not enough to get promoted) to ensure being stuck in the same type of position for a couple of decades. This will cultivate, first your angst and then your compassion. Start young. It’ll take a long time to crush your ego so that once you’re a wealthy superstar, you’ll be able to relate to common folk and keep humble.
Unsettle-in and get uncomfortable. It may not seem like the most pleasurable way to spend your time. It isn’t. That’s the whole point. If not for paltry beginnings, you’ll have nothing to look forward to.
This is slightly different than being average, as average people may be eccentric or uncommon or may otherwise stand out. It’s important to blend in with the crowd. You may be exceptionally bright or dull, but you must never let it show. Keep your brilliant or insane ideas in a journal. Draw them or write them, but don’t show them to anyone or attempt to publish them any time before middle age. Until you can make a name, you must have no name. Being an artist/writer/dancer/musician is truely the best way to waste your youth. No one will ever expect anything from you.
You may feel excessively ebullient or depressed at times. Keep it to yourself. You can be happy without being vivacious. You may be blue, but not depressed. Appearing boring is really for the best. This is not to say that you shouldn’t indulge your emotions or hone your individual talents and skills, but you must do it privately. Remember, thoughts stay inside your head and journals stay under your bed.
It helps. But even if you’re above or below average this can be squelched or molded so that you may appear average. Appearing average is essential. Rising too far above average or dipping too far below average could garner too much attention. It’s very important to stay under the radar and become invisible to anyone who may try to mentor and motivate you.