Escapism Is Hard To Find

white neon light signage
white neon light signage
Photo by: John Baker/Unsplash

Over the last few months, the main purpose of my life has been using free trials for streaming services, trying to watch everything I want in the space of a week. Trying to cancel the subscription before I have to pay. Disney+? Apple TV?

Completed it mate.  

Suddenly all these free tasters seem to be gone. I can’t help  but feel this is a metaphor for my whole life. No more free  trials. 

I keep making a mistake as I put down my age for these  trials. I write 24, instead of 23. To some, this must seem a  very nice problem to have. But I’ve been trying to figure out  why I do this.  

Maybe I just genuinely forget? And this happens to lots of  people? I am accepting that I will still be in the same  position in a few months time? I no longer recognise  myself? I’m just shit at typing?

But this mistake in my age keeps leading me to overthink.  As I always have done. What am I doing with my life? 23?  24? 25? 30? 40? It doesn’t make any difference. All I know  

I’m getting older and have fewer accomplishments to  show for it. For the first time in my life, I feel younger than I  actually am. 

Most mornings I say to myself “progress”. In an attempt to  convince myself that if I make some tiny improvement over  the course of the day, no matter how small, it would be  considered a win. Sometimes I listen to this voice. But  others, I try my best to silence it. 

It is now May and I have had the thought that had I started a  Masters degree last September I would be nearing the end.  I was unsure whether to do one and still am. But I find  myself comparing these two versions of myself, me now and  the version that started the Masters. Had I enrolled and  completed all the online assignments in my room, I would be  in the exact same position, only with one version having  made far more progress. 

A stupid thought in which there is no winner. So I return to  my usual daily task of applying for jobs. But the results for  this job hunt remain the same, albeit increasingly  depressing.  

So I find myself in this room trying to find a distraction.  Using all these free trials to escape this panic. But at the end of all these free trials, I now find myself looking for  another form of escapism. Struggling to do so. 

There’s no cinema. I feel like every article I write ends up  with me moaning about not being able to go to the cinema.  But this was always my greatest escape technique. The only  films I have managed to squeeze in at the cinema in the last  12 months are Tenet and Unhinged. 

One film where the concept of time is drastically changed  and one film with Russell Crowe has a bad day and decides  to try to kill people with his car. It’s hard not to find these  relatable sometimes.  

The hours at the end of the day I play video games with my  friends. But when moments like this become the highlight of  the day, they cease to feel like I’m really escaping and  forgetting about my worries. Instead just reminding me of  the sad fact that this is as good at it gets  

Maybe finding the feeling of escapism is like finding Narnia?  You can’t actively look for it, it has to be stumbled upon  instead.  

Writing has always been one of the best ways for me to  escape. It still is really. But it has stopped being as effective as it once was. I pride myself on writing honestly, but that  seems to be the issue. The more I write the more problems I  realise I have and suddenly the idea of putting my thoughts  and feelings onto paper seems like a trap. So I avoid it. It’s  been like not looking at your bank balance after a night out.  If I don’t know, it can’t hurt me.  

I think the biggest reason for my inability to write has been  my insistence on always ending a piece on a positive note  and hopefully an uplifting message. Because the honest  truth is I rarely see the positives. I focus on all the parts of  my life not going well and cannot run away from the  thoughts. It’s not getting better. To write a piece with the  message “everything will be alright in the end” feels like a  lie. 

Escapism is hard to find. 

Maybe I put 24 on these forms because in my head I know  that is the same distance to 30 as it is to 18? My way to  feeling like I have not succeeded? That I am slowly taking a  step from being someone with the potential to becoming  wasted potential?  

So this is where the positive message would usually kick in.  Again, that has been hard to find.

But I will say this. 

I spent a night the other week doing something I have  actively avoided for a long time. 

I had built up a large number of songs that remind me of  times in my past. Spotify manages to keep a record of what  song you listened to at a certain time, a certain day. A lot of  these songs I had ruled as unlistenable for quite some time. 

But on this night I felt determined to put myself through the  pain of listening to them all, with no real idea of what this  was going to achieve. This motivation was largely fuelled by  Lidl’s alcohol range.  

But I listened to them all, some on repeat. With some of them taking me back to a time where I was exceedingly happy and at peace. Some are hurting me. Making me feel things that I had forgotten, intentionally and unintentionally. I  became emotional, but I owned it. I felt a small sense of satisfaction having been able to listen to all these songs without wanting to tear the house down.  It felt like progress. Invisible to anyone else but me, but still there. Did I wonder if in my continuous search for a temporary escape from my feelings that maybe I had gone too far?

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