Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Dragged kicking and screaming into adulthood
I've never been one to compromise my values for a buck, but sometimes life gets a little bit more complicated than that. Case in point, I start my first of hopefully many interviews tomorrow for my current research project. While I'll spare you the boring details, the interviews are going to be mostly with members of the criminal justice field. These folks are notoriously tight-lipped, and they're probably even less likely to open up to a guy with a 6-inch long mohawk.
So tonight I am cutting my hair in the interest of professional advancement.
To be fair, I'm kind of getting sick of the haircut anyway, but still, my main impetus for the new 'do is most assuredly a vain attempt to look professional. Right now I'm justifying it by telling myself that it's a greater good type thing, i.e. my project will do more to advance critical thought than an obnoxious haircut. But it still stings a little bit.
I think it's just a little bit more of a bitter pill to swallow because it's emblematic of a larger struggle in my life right now. The problem for an anti-materialist li'l punk like myself is that the vast majority of our culture's signifiers of adulthood center around consumption and the ceasing of deviant behavior. Think about it--a good job, a home, a car, marriage, children...all of them require money and leave little time for anything else, especially radical politics.
Normally, this wouldn't be such a big deal. I more than used to rejecting society's norms by this point in my life, but being the youngest of a youngest child and always by far the youngest child in my grade throughout all of my school life (up to and including grad school), I've developed a bit of a complex about being accepted by the older kids. And doing radical scholarship, it's extra infuriating when people write it off a youthful phase that I will most assuredly grow out of once the weight of the world has crushed my spirit, much like it did theirs. It's been getting to me even more lately, as I'm in a profession that on its outset looks pretty left-leaning, but in reality is just as shallow and careerist as any other field. And the folks in the my department, most of whom make little to no effort to disguise the fact they respect neither my research nor myself, put a great deal of pressure on one to become more respectable, only adding to my little pocket of anomie. And it doesn't really help any that I look like I'm about 14 years old, which certainly doesn't make me feel very adult-like.
So as soon as this post is done, the clippers are coming out and I'll be a respectable looking young chap once again. Now I'm a firm believer in the notion that one does not need to abandon their youthful ideals simply because they're not in college anymore and their girlfriend/boss/parents all tell them they should settle down, but finding the balance is becoming a bit harder than I thought it'd be.
Posted by Woz at 10:36 PM