As A Homeless Person Screams At Me Through My Windshield

third year jacob porter

photo by Noah Buchanan

photo by Noah Buchanan

It is never an especially wonderful experience when you are sitting securely in your car being screamed at by a homeless person after a particularly embarrassing evening in Chinatown with a fellow intern from your actually-pretty-wonderful internship in Los Angeles (a city that had, at that point, been a mixed bag of not-lived-up-to expectations). But it was in this not-so-wonderful space that I reflected back on the advice that had been given to me by Mom in preparation for the interview for the position that (perhaps inadvertently) brought me directly to the exact moment I was experiencing: Be yourself. And that brought me to another line of thought -

What the fuck does that mean?

There’s a specific category of well-meant, but almost always unhelpful advice, that “be yourself” falls into, and it never quite does what the person “helping” you wants it to do. How is someone supposed to “be themselves” when the majority of us are in the gaggle of years most people designate for finding themselves? “Being yourself” is something that is somehow simultaneously complex and shallow that you’re expected to just get. 

This isn’t the type of article where you come away suddenly understanding the nebulous advice that people sometimes give us  - and I don’t think any one piece of writing could do that. Furthermore, I don’t think that this nebulous advice is borne of a malicious ignorance by any means, and might actually gesture towards something resembling an actual idea. But I do think that sometimes we just talk with good intentions and don’t give thought to what the phrases we hear all the time actually mean. Sometimes our words can only point towards the often-complex feelings and emotions that our minds feel and create. When being told to “be yourself”, I think it’s important to remember that you have an innate sense of who you are, even if you’re still in the process of figuring it out, and that’s all that people are asking you to remember when they say that. Sometimes it’s an innate thing. And sometimes it’s hard to articulate that. At least they aren’t screaming at you through your windshield on a warm summer night in Chinatown. And sometimes even bad situations like those can give you a sense of who you are. 

Back to that: I came to realize that it was my own decisions that landed me in my Los Angeles predicament - “Being myself” brought me to where I was in a roundabout way - and, in a moment of solace, I realized what was happening to me was ridiculous in a way that was very on-brand for me. I looked at the homeless person screaming at me, and debated smiling at the ridiculous situation before me, and how it would one day make for nice reflection.

Then I thought about it for two more seconds and realized how bad an idea it’d be, so I whipped the rental Hyundai into reverse and booked it the fuck out of there.

Happy Monday