The title of this musing is a reference (perhaps part homage) to a line in — a direct quote from — the 1990 film Pump Up the Volume. With the main character played by Christian Slater. His alter ego in the film is DJ Hard Harry (a contrast to his introverted self, Mark Hunter, who’s is struggling to exist with finding themself and surviving in the world in the context of 1980s- neoliberalism, conservativism and identifiable elements of early eco-anxiety to name a few).
The full quote is
I don’t mind being dejected and rejected, but I’m not going to be ashamed about it.
Pump Up the Volume came out at the right time for a similarly aged as the main character me, and continues to resonate. This maxim came to mind today as I was people watching, and letting my thoughts wander and reflect on this week’s experiences at work, life in general and all tha falls in between and outside the liminal space of my current existing. For those who are familiar with the film, the analogy of when this came to mind is Mark’s self-description of sitting alone in a stairwell reading a book and eating his lunch (replace lunch with beer, reading a book with people watching, and sitting in a stairwell with at a bar post work on a Friday evening).
Why this statement resonates, and the latter part (not ashamed) has specificity, today is that through my experiences at work this week (close to two months into the job) is I have closed in on the conclusion that I just don’t fit in — and that is OK. And it is not just this job, it’s the nature of work in a neoliberal society, and a reductionist model of society which tries to homogenise and make us fit into certain socially acceptable boxes. Through my attempts to find myself, including into and beyond my late teens — when the film came out — I always felt like I don’t belong (the rejected).
I had a specific experience this week of feeling i didn’t belong at work, in the response comments of my boss in relation to a specific assigned task. It was not that I couldn’t do what was asked, rather that what I produced did not match their (different, lower) expectations. I had a number of experiences with similar thoughts over past weeks as I tried to get a sense of the role. They more clearly coalesced this week, in this moment.
As I am working on coming out the other end of the last two years, two years which have been quite difficult — perhaps the most difficult I have experienced to date — dejected and rejected more than metaphorically aligns with my experiences in this job. Not to positon myself and my experiences with (the neoliberal model of) work as in any way exceptional, my overarching feelings include unfulfilled, bored and (in a social sense) that I am wasting my time and abilities.
Thinking beyond myself, and not just the notion that I have more to offer, its the overwhelming nature of (neoliberal) work that many of us, our time, is ineffectively utilised in the context of the betterment of life and society for all of us. Our own social and emotional well-being, and the social usefulness-conibturtions of the ‘work’ we do.
To try and round this out and make it a thing, my re-realisation/revelation (as in its a revisiting of past ones, perhaps with different-more cogency) is that I need to renew my efforts to find my place, my fit. And that this is not on me in the sense that I should feel dejected alongside rejected. I am not ashamed to not fit a homenoised and reducionist notion what we should be and do.
Nothing necessarily enlightening in any of this. Just another outcome of navigating life and and existinance…
[The film itself has its own issues with elements of unchecked juenvile masculinity, though presents relatively well in comparison to many others from the time period]