[L]et’s reexamine this widely held sentiment that if you’re basically warm and fed and reasonably healthy, any problems you have are automatically trivial. Funny how the phrase first-world problems has a way of creating consensus among those who fancy themselves sophisticated and liberal, filling our minds as it does with images of self-proclaimed artist boys in man buns, nibbling on almond-crusted salmon and moaning about how to get their work noticed, or spoiled white ladies, sipping Champagne and whining about how their designer stilettos give them blisters.
The presumption here is that longing for more when you have a lot is somehow a crime. Daydreams are bad and embarrassing. Noticing that you’re not really that happy is weak. Observing your faulty thought patterns is suspect.
And $DEITY forbid that you should be thought weak:
Weakness is contemptible. This is the driving sentiment behind a big part of our culture, and it speaks to some sick core of “I’ll get mine” American values: The world is split into winners and losers. If you’re a winner, you deserve to win and you shouldn’t concern yourself with anything more than winning and winners. If you’re a loser, you’ll always lose, and why should anyone give you a second thought? Go be a loser somewhere else, or at least shut up about it.
But I’m a firm believer in longing and daydreams. I think when you’re melancholy about your life, it’s not just crucial to notice that, but it’s an enormous waste of a life not to notice it and address it. Are we really going to define the platonic ideal of existence in the first world as keeping your fucking mouth shut about what’s true and real and difficult for you, no matter what?
Stoicism can carry you only so far. And I think it’s leaving me out by the curb.