Of Being Stuck in Place

By Lucas Grochot dos Santos. Lucas is from Santo Antônio do Palma in Brazil and in his article explores Foucault's words on change and the person. Please read his article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

Some of Foucault’s words definitely resonate with me; he said that the main interest of life is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning. But how can you address that expectation when you never exactly knew who or where you were in the first place? If you don’t know where the starting line is, it would be much harder to reach the end of the course, wouldn’t it?

I should preface this by saying that I find myself in this ‘nowhere’ moment in my life, and, most of the time, I have no qualms about staying where I am. I have lived a good life up to now, not only because I always had food on my table, but also warm clothes for me to wear during winter, a plastic pool in the backyard, and both my parents loved me from the moment I was born, and they still love me now. My family was always beside me while I grew into the person I am, and they provided everything I needed – they still do.

But then, reality kicks in as I realize that I haven’t yet made much of myself yet. In my mid-twenties, I don’t have a career to follow, nor do I have a job to sustain my life. It’s a situation that has been escalating slowly: first, I graduated from college and had no idea what to do with my degree, while my parents shouldered a debt that still cripples them now; I tried to go into the job market and use the recently acquired knowledge that I’d accumulated through years of study, but when I did reach the position I was aiming for, I already knew by the first day that I had made the worst mistake of my life by choosing this path for me, and I realized I had nowhere else to go.

Those were troubling times, but thankfully, my parents urged me to go back home, to perform some made-up position in their midst as I recalibrated my mental health, so that I’d have time to decide where I should go.

That was a few years ago.

I had no idea what I really wanted to do because my passions could be called hobbies, and they wouldn’t become profitable enough for me to leave my parents’ house and make a life for myself, or even help them pay out the debt that I’d caused early on. There was also this fear of being stuck in a place where I’d regret the choices I made in life a few years from now, but wouldn’t it be even worse to not have made any choices at all?

So here I am, delaying the inevitable.

Reluctantly, I’ve been trying to plan the next steps I’m taking in life. There’s a dose of anxiety gripping my insides now; it’s always there, and I dealt with it in the past with the help of medication. Now that I’m med-free, I live life in a constant state of reminding myself of the things that make me feel good. I try to cultivate a routine in which I can battle my mental insecurities with organic devices, like yoga and meditation, or reading books and trying not to follow the news in earnest. I ward myself from the onslaught of attacks from all around, and it works.

But I also know I won’t be able to do that all my life. And while I’m planning to make a change – not because I want to become someone different, per se, but because I want to finally move forward – I do agree with Foucault in the sense that I’m not sure I’ll be ever assured of my place in the world. What I know, though, is that it’s time to move. It’s time to move to a different place, a different state from that of the beginning.

Right now, I am where I’ve always been. I sometimes tried to make it seem like I didn’t know where the starting line was, but in a way, what I was doing was moving the goalposts. I did so much, and so little, but even I am able to realize that I need something different. Perhaps mentally I have already reached a different place from where I was before, and I just haven’t materialized it yet.

Foucault said that he didn’t feel it’s necessary to know where he was at one given moment, and I feel the same. But I’m also grappling with the idea of having to describe the me of this moment, mostly in fear of finding the concept depressing or lacking something special.

I know I’ll move on, eventually. Maybe I’ll get stuck in place again another time, but I can always gather the energy to move again and again. After all, we only truly stop moving when we decide to stop forever. There’s only one definite outcome when it comes to that, but I feel like I haven’t reached it yet.

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