so far from the shore

This is me continuing my spiral into self-induced depression, I suppose. But I recently got around to listening to the so popular Stressed Out by Twenty One Pilots and the cynic in me just wanted to sit down and laugh a little at how innocent the lyrics are. Of course, personal opinions and my own jaded thoughts probably warped the song from its original purpose.

See, the lyrics that I find questionable runs as:

Wish we could turn back time, to the good ol’ days,
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out.
Wish we could turn back time, to the good ol’ days,
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out.

We used to play pretend, give each other different names,
We would build a rocket ship and then we’d fly it far away,
Used to dream of outer space but now they’re laughing at our face,
Saying, “Wake up, you need to make money.”

And I can’t help but feel like shaking the people who identify with these lines. Do you know why you could play pretend and why you didn’t get all stressed out, and why your mom’s singing could put you at ease? Because she gave up on her dreams so that you could grow up healthy and happy.

A journalist wrote of her own turbulent childhood where she had to grow up with a mother who was eccentric and in a way, it left scars on the writer.

She grew up an only child in a penthouse in New York’s Upper East Side. Her mother was a poet, her father a diplomat. He retreated to Thailand when the marriage failed and so, for much of the year, it was just Leve, her mother and her mother’s party guests. There were frequent raucous parties, attended by the likes of Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, Norman Mailer, belly dancers, balloon magicians, Andy Warhol and “people she met in the elevator”, Leve says. “It was very eccentric.” Sometimes the guests had to wait hours before her mother would appear, wrapped in a towel and covered with bubbles. If they were beguiled, her daughter wasn’t: “At 11pm I’d hear, ‘Everybody! Stop talking! It’s time for the music!’ And I’d be lying in bed, panicked, because I had to go to school the next day. I didn’t care who these people were. What mattered to me was that they were behaving inappropriately and they were inconsiderate to me. I needed to set my own boundaries, because nobody else was setting them.”


“It came as a big surprise to me that she didn’t love me,” she replies. “I thought it was going to be, ‘Thank you, Mommy, for everything you gave me.’ I tried to make her life as beautiful as possible. I had a very famous salon in New York.” (source)

Is it so strange to tell your kid that ‘Hey, maybe you need to think about making money? I can’t possibly support you financially when I’m close to the retirement age, and don’t you think it’s funny how you can faff around dreaming while I have to put bread on the table? Surely you don’t think that my dream is to look after my kids until the day I drop dead?’

Which might be me putting too much of myself into that reading, because I’m currently being a total NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training), and people keep asking me when I’m going to get a job.

Don’t you find it funny how we were bombarded with motivational lines such as ‘follow your dreams’, ‘set high goals’, ‘you can do whatever if you put your mind to it’ etc. But to be honest, if we all followed our dreams and based our careers on our childhood fantasies, where would society be? Surely the number of kids thinking that they wanted to be investment traders or janitors or bus drivers are minute. For those kids who grew up and got sensible jobs, were they selling out? Did they decide that they could never because astronauts, rock stars, or firefighters, and settled for less and because of that, they lost when they put themselves in the rat race?

I suppose a part of me feels guilty – how much do I know about my mother beyond the fact that she is my mother? That she nags too much and annoys the hell out of me and is probably the only person I hate and love at the same time. Which makes me the most ungrateful bastard who doesn’t deserve everything that I have now.

We don’t seem to think about our parental figures as real people. They had to have proper hopes and dreams, did they ever achieve any of them? Or did we get in the way of their goals? Sure, most decent parents probably didn’t see their kids as a burden, but perhaps as another type of dream, different from what they originally thought about when they were younger themselves. But in the case of opportunity cost, maybe the kid was a better choice? Idk I don’t ever want to have children; I’m too selfish to prioritise another human being over my own desires. I don’t think I can see a kid as anything but an obstacle to whatever I want.

Instead of going out with her friends on Sundays or resting after a hectic week of work, my mother chooses to do extra housework, buys a shit ton of groceries and cooks a feast because my brothers and their families would come over. I’m sure we would all be okay if we got take out instead, but in her mind, since they only visit once a week, she has to make sure that they eat properly (she doesn’t think they eat healthy food on their own, I suppose), and that means homecooked food.

I don’t know where I’m going with this, I just had a kneejerk reaction to a song, and I guess I felt too much emotions for a couple of lines because of where I am currently, or who knows, maybe I just have too much time on my hands.


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