I’m going to be serious about something for one second.
Okay, done. Just had to get that out of the way. I have to be serious at least once a day or they’ll put me back in the mysterious filing cabinet they found me in. I do, however, want to talk about a great movie that I recently saw in my head while I was falling asleep in class. It was about this girl who was super shy – so shy, in fact, that when she was getting ready to cross the street, she noticed a cute guy standing to her left and, mortified at the notion of risking eye contact, refused to turn her head, stepped into the street, and was hit by a bus.
It was actually a really touching movie. Her friends and family founded a support group, SOTWATDRIABA (Survivors Of Those Whose Avoidant Tendencies Directly Resulted In A Bus Accident) Anonymous. The cute guy at the bus stop went on to name his firstborn daughter Sotwatdriaba. She then went on to found a support group for people named after support groups. At the end of this emotional roller coaster, we find out that the entire movie only happened in the main character’s head, and she’s still standing at the bus stop, waiting to cross the street. There’s a dramatic swell of music as she looks to the right…
Then the left…
To find only her own reflection in the bus stop window. She stares for a moment. Then she smiles, turns forward, and steps into the road, having overcome her shyness in the span of a single reverie.
Now, get ready for the crazy twist: That character was me. AND I WAS DEAD THE WHOLE TIME! Wait, no, that’s a different movie ending. The moral of this story is that your life is not a movie. Yes, there are hidden cameras everywhere and, in fact, I’m watching you through one right now, but that doesn’t make it a movie. Yes, everything you say is slightly scripted, preordained by the deities we call social conventions, but that doesn’t make it a movie. Yes, everyone basically develops into a hollow caricature of themselves over time until the senile bliss of old age descends like the credits on a two-dollar matinee screen – what was I saying again?
Right. Obviously this never happened, even in a movie. I never got hit by a bus because I was too socially avoidant to actually turn my head ninety degrees to the left – I got hit by a bus because I bet someone $20 that I would get hit by a bus. It is literally not complicated at all. Why don’t more people do this? I’m out of BRBs and it’s not even April. BUT. It takes .2 seconds for a bus to run over you, which means that “getting hit by a bus” has an hourly wage of $360,000 if you bet $20 on it. (I think, maybe. (My major has nothing to do with math, so I’m probably never going to make anything close to $20 again in my life.) Anyway, I’m just saying. Gambling and jumping in front of vehicles collectively constitute the future of the United States economy.
That was made up, too. I can’t stop. But my point – and I do not have one, but it’s fun to pretend – is that the world inside your head is just as real as the one outside it if it fosters a change in you. If it prompts you to take a chance, make a discovery, connect with your emotions or consider something in a new light, you’ve already made your reality ten times more worthwhile by giving weight to your unreality. Sometimes that can be terrifying. It can make you paralyzingly shy, because we’re supposed to believe that the horrible things we imagine in our heads aren’t real. We’re supposed to believe that they make life seem scarier than it actually is, not that they could be just as real as, I don’t know, what’s something real – Starbucks?
But you’re pretty scary, too. You’re the stuff of your nightmares’ nightmares. (That’s a motivational cliché I plagiarized from that imaginary movie above.) Because all that exists is what you do. And in a world where you can name a kid Sotwatdriaba, that’s a pretty fearsome thing.
Sarah is a sophomore Psychology and Performing & Media Arts major in the College of Arts and Sciences. She likes to exist sometimes, but mostly just recite lines from The Office. Her favorite food is oatmeal raisin cookies dipped in curry sauce, and she can usually be found using the words “film” and “movie” interchangeably, highlighting her favorite words in the dictionary or trying to transcribe feral cat noises into the next groundbreaking Twitter trend. Good Taste Alone appears on Fridays this semester. She can be reached at [email protected]