I keep reading so many perspectives on this whole Elliot Rodger perspective. Who he was. What was wrong with him. How the tragedy could have been prevented. Because isn’t that what we always search for? Someone or something to blame so we can somehow move on after a tragedy. Somehow feeling safe or like life isn’t totally out of our control. I’m a control freak, I get that. But in these cases, I have no control. Society has no control. And people aren’t one-dimensional. We are a product of our past, a product of our minds and a product of everything around us and our perspective.
I Rodger’s manifesto this weekend before there was much written about him. I read it in an attempt to build my own impression of the guy. I watch who he became unfold and evolve as he “grew up” in his “story.” I realize his story is his own. Ten of us could have the exact same night, and our perspectives of the night and our stories would all be different. We would talk about things that are important to us, and from our perspectives. We might leave out details that are important to us, or integral to understanding who we are.
All that said, there are so many things going in in this guy’s head. Some things I feel sorry for the hand he was dealt. Social anxiety and Asperger’s. Not an easy way to make lots of friends. Other times I wanted to shake him and scream, “LIFE ISN’T FAIR!” or, “JUST BECAUSE YOU CHECK ITEMS ON A LIST DOESN’T MAKE YOU ENTITLED!” He commonly thought if he did certain things, he should get certain things. Part of that might be a manifestation of Asperger’s. And an inability to connect with people. If you can’t connect with someone, it’s hard to 1. Be empathetic or see their perspective and more importantly 2. See there’s more to a relationship than looks and material things. I do feel bad that his brain works this way, and that his parents didn’t or couldn’t correct some of his entitled thinking. But I also think we’re all creating our own destiny. If you want to meet someone, you have to put yourself out there. If you want to be successful, you have to take risks. If you want to be smart, you have to be willing to work to learn, and accept that failure’s part of it. Life isn’t easy. Growing up is hard. And being an adult is a lot different than we think it’s going to be when we’re kids.
We don’t just get what we want because we want it, even if we did when we were kids. In life, there are winners and losers in EVERYTHING, even if we never won or lost at a sport or in a contest as kids. We aren’t entitled to love or affection. And if you aren’t willing to give and risk, you won’t find or receive love, especially romantic love. Jealousy, envy and rage don’t make things you feel are unjust go away. And even if you don’t like something or think it’s “fair,” it doesn’t mean you’re right to want it to be different. We are all good at some things, but not at others. Everyone struggles with stuff, and everyone has things they’re good at. If you think you’re not good at anything, you either haven’t tried enough things, or your self-esteem is really low. The bigger your world gets, the more you’ll realize there are a lot of really smart people. Really good-looking, confident people. Really ambitious people. Really creative people. It’s nearly impossible to be “the best” at any one thing, let alone at everything, like many kids think they are or should be. It’s a lot of work to be successful in anything: love, career, or even personal ambitions.
No one of us is owed a romantic relationship. Some people look their whole lives and never find love. Others don’t look at all, and feel like they deserved more. It’s hard to feel sorry for someone complaining about something he did very little work to attain, but in a world of entitlement, that’s what’s expected. Only a parent can’t setup “play dates” to find a girlfriend or boyfriend. At some point, children need to learn to adapt and survive in the “real world.” And if they don’t have the mental or emotional tools to do that, it’s tough. Parents are expected to encourage independence and self-worth, but sometimes the children are resistant. And they’re left feeling lost and helpless. We’ll never know enough of the full details of Rodger’s childhood and young adulthood to know if his story is an accurate portrayal of his life. My guess is he’s left out a lot of details. Victims always do. He was a victim of his own mind – a theme that runs deep and heavy in society today. We enable victims. We accept excuses. And we encourage blame-placing.