Painful reverberations from adolescence - Justin Boron

Last Monday, I had my first day at the News-Daily. Strangely, it also was the first day of school for all of the kids in Clayton County.

The coincidence seemed to rejuvenate my adolescent experience of first day jitters, which sent me into a gut-wrenching self-analysis of my acquiescence to social norms.

Sitting in my apartment the Sunday night before I started my new reporting job, I found myself running through the same nervous routines as I had in middle school and high school. The nervous emotions weren't brand new. But something I thought I had left behind after I went to college.

Picking out my clothes, getting supplies together, pacing for no reason. I even went through the alarm clock routine at least five times to ease my nerves.

Setting, then, double and triple checking my alarm clock to make sure I didn't mistakenly set the alarm time for p.m.

Just going through the annual exercise of neurosis that seemed to have faded after I left high school for the more laid back realm of college, where almost no one ever showed up for the first day.

Now, this estranged panic was back with a vengeance, undulating through my brainwaves as I tried to get some sleep. Instead of resting for my first day, I woke up every hour thinking I had missed my alarm.

Where were these excruciating emotions coming from?

I thought I had grown out of this in college.

Obviously, the torment must have been a return of society's institutionalized emphasis on First Days that years of public education had indoctrinated me with.

I thought I had escaped it. But I was wrong. Who was I to think I could break down a social constraint and actually exercise free thought?

I had wrongly betrayed society when I gave up on the arbitrary importance placed on First Days in college. Violated the world's expected norms.

But I was trying to return like a prodigal son that had learned from his arrogance of independence.

This homecoming, though, was anything but a parable. The nervous churning of my insides had to be wrath from the Old Testament.

Society met me, not with a party and a slaughtered calf, but with a violent reprisal for straying beyond its designated lines of importance.

I had tried on my own to decide what would and wouldn't be important to me. I thought I could just brush off First Days, ignore they're imminent importance, and for that, I am deeply sorry. I have learned now how dangerous thinking for yourself can be.

Society's Great Machine must have sensed that I had been infected by free thought, and it sought to punish me with nightmares about a terrible first day, re-programming me to realize a First Day could sway my entire career. Monday morning would make or break the rest of my life. This was the type of social control that I needed to embrace.

God forbid I set out on the wrong foot, I thought, as I checked my alarm clock another time at 4 a.m.

Hold on.

Had I regressed? Was I falling victim to a fallacy of human existence. Who was I betraying? Clearly, I had betrayed society. But was I also betraying a part of myself?

I had tried hard to imitate Albert Camus characters, but obviously I had failed. I had become an existential victim, guilt-filled and weak.

I picked up my bedside copy of Franz Kafka's "The Trial" and gave myself the stereotypical pep-talk that I've heard other social libertarians give themselves as they decided to give up on anarchy and join the real world.

"I can do more damage within the system than I can on the outside of it."

Justin Boron covers government and politics for the News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 Ext. 281 or at jboron@news-daily.com .