Crazy In Cambridge
So you think you’re mentally sound? CHARLOTTE OLIVER confesses her insanity and encourages you to embrace your inner crazy.
There comes a time in life when you must confront your own reflection, indulge in a soul-search of GAP year pretension, and come to terms with what you are – and what you are not. Theoretically, this should ‘lighten your aura,’ leave behind the burden of teenage angst forever in the noughties (along with your long-retired parachute pants and Avril Lavigne-inspired pink ties) and allow you to emerge from your cocoon, a radiant butterfly, yelping with self-assured revelry to all those who listen: “Hello World, This Is Me!” You are, at long last, free from the vortex of existential indulgence – now and forever ready to engage our planet and the people upon it with self-identified clarity. Eureka and hooray!
Or maybe not. For what happens when, after all this soul-searching, introspection and unashamed self-absorption, you realise that you are, by all accounts, somewhat unhinged? Or, as I have conclusively self-analysed (and, as has been kindly pointed out to me by various notables throughout the ages) I am, irrevocably, a stark raving loony loop of crazy. And I don’t mean the “Omfgz I trekked to Cindies in 8-inch heels, I am sooooo crazy!” type of loco-drama. No, I mean something else.
I had never properly dwelt on my ‘crazy’ before I arrived in Cambridge, satisfied with the certainty that it was ‘normal’ – run-of-the-mill, even – to collect healing crystals, worship a fictive transvestite named ‘Frank-N-Furter,’ and refer to my eyebrows as Bill and Bob (Bill on the left; my left, not yours.) Having followed the trend of the GAP year cliché and ‘found myself’ atop a Peruvian mountain – giddy, no doubt, by the noxious combination of high altitude and cocoa plantations – I felt happy, peaceful and blissfully self-assured. Unified by mollifying sanity, mentally lucid and soberly sound. Well, what a whopper of fruitcake nuttiness that turned out to be.
Here in Cambridge, one is pigeon-holed with the same speed and celerity as last week’s essay. ‘Hysterical laughing fits and intense paranoia?’ Check. ‘Occasional loss of common knowledge [Me, one wet Wednesday: “the Earth is round?!”] and outward dialogues…with yourself?’ Erm, Check. “Well then, cast thyself into the loony-bin forever, ye categorical nut!” From this position of passivity, you tend to consider yourself from an outside perspective and look upon your being with the eyes of Another. And so it began.
I became crudely aware that, rather than spending the last two hours in the UL taking note of Neronian Literature, I had instead mapped out in the fields of my mind the many years of happiness I would share with the boy sitting across from me – until he got up and left, that is. I heard myself describing, in gruesome detail, the sexual oddities and intricacies of dolphin-intercourse to complete and utter strangers – a conversation killer indeed. I gawked at my own attempts to explain to my supervisor the magical power of Rose Quartz. Essentially, I saw the crazy – raw and unrefined, staring me out with all its menace. And the craziest thing of all is: I felt blissfully peaceful.
And so, it seems to me, the time has come to indulge in intrepid self-analysis and revel in the ensuing crises that result. Rather than ‘hiding the crazy’ within, expose it from a position of self-reflexivity, make peace with it, then augment it to a level of hitherto unseen delirium. Swim the seas of the sexually active dolphin with self-knowing eccentricity – and only blame your parents when it is absolutely necessary. Ultimately, and for the sake of a little self-clarity, stay sane inside insanity. Yippee!