One thing depression does to your brain is to make temporary difficulties feel permanent. It’s that switch in your head that turns, “I currently don’t have a job,” to “I’ll never have a job,” or “I’m currently single,” to “I will be alone for the rest of my life.” A lot of depression works like this, where one thing becomes indicative of a larger, unbeatable trend. A bird craps on your car and it’s no longer that a bird crapped on your car, but rather that birds always crap on your car and this is how life works. This is where an option like suicide can begin to make sense, because things don’t appear to be temporary, but rather indicative of a larger, permanent situation that will continue so long as you’re alive.
I moved home from Scotland a week ago, and I’m back living at home for the time being. Both my parents’ birthdays fall around Christmas and New Year’s, so for the most part, I’m waiting to approach the task of getting a job until after the craziness of the holidays in Virginia subsides. I really, really want to get out of here. Many people I love have chosen to live here, but it’s not where I want to be, and I hate feeling dependent and like I’m reverting to childhood by being in my childhood home. It is not good.
In Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton’s rival and eventual murderer Aaron Burr sings a song called “Wait for It”. Composer/lyricist/star/genius Lin-Manuel Miranda explained to The New Yorker:
“I think we’ve all had moments where we’ve seen friends and colleagues zoom past us, either to success, or to marriage, or to homeownership, while we lingered where we were—broke, single, jobless. And you tell yourself, ‘Wait for it.’ . . . I feel very Burr-like when I think what Hamilton accomplished by [Miranda’s age, 35]. Or Paul McCartney. Or Sondheim. Or Gershwin. Or OutKast. My jaw drops in awe of that kind of work ethic.”
This comes from the man who has written the most sonically and lyrically complex musical since Sweeney Todd, maybe ever. This is a man who wrote the music for the cantina scene in the new Star Wars in between starring in the musical he created and writing a Disney movie. Who still finds the time to perform for the lottery participants during each two-show day with a new unique performance every time. Who has written two excellent musicals, the first of which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and won the Tony for Best Musical, the second which will in all likelihood do at least that much. And he still compares himself to others and thinks he hasn’t accomplished enough.
I’m in a mode right now where I’m full-on Burr, listening to “Wait for It” on repeat. I didn’t accomplish what I expected to accomplish at 26, but I achieved some other things which I’m happy about. I don’t know how long it’s going to take to move to the next phase of my life, but I’m also channeling a song from Miranda’s first musical, In the Heights. “Paciencia y fe,” Abuela Claudia sings repeatedly. “Patience and faith.” Just because something is true at the moment doesn’t make it true forever. Nothing is constant except inconstancy.