You’ve seen it before. It made your mother cover all the walls of your working-class family apartment with her framed cross-stitched embroidery copied from the Burda magazine.
It makes your cousin, who works full time and has two kids, bake the craziest Marie-Antoinette-like cakes and jewelry out of Coke cans. Maybe it made her make her children, too.
Perhaps it made you play FarmVille or Bejeweled until your eyes hurt. Or scroll the Facebook’s news feed bar until 2011.
Sitting on the toilet, looking at the sumptuous framed vintage bathtub, you wonder how many cross stitches it took. You wonder where your mother’s sudden passion for embroidery came from, you wonder what drove her crazy about getting new patterns and saving up for the expensive frames. An ardor that made her spend several hours a day leaning over the canvas in spite of an aching back.
It is boredom. The passive aggressive little sister of anger. The euphemism for social frustration, disappointment, obsession, invisibility. The lead ball of dissatisfaction that settled inside yourself and that you try to ignore. You try to conceal its weight buying shoes, baking cupcakes, changing the curtains in your living room or doing your nails.
The stones in Virginia Woolf’s pockets as she walked into the river.
Understimulation is pandemic among women. No wonder, since we are brought up to celebrate trivial and meaningless things. Since a very early age, they make you believe that, although you will have to get a job, your “real” interests will not go much beyond shopping and scented candles.
Why don’t you do things that makes you truly happy and not random things to forget that you are unhappy? Why are you so afraid to face the fact that you need more? That you are longing to taste life at its rawest, that you are looking for a challenge, that you have ambitions, that you want to hold power.
In the search of fitting in and being normal, we push each other into the abyss of futility, encouraging ourselves to numb the frustration away with insignificant activities that we learn to pretend to love.
And when the emptiness hits back and leaves you melancholic and sad and cold, you think it’s time for you to make a trip to Ikea.
Words and illustration by Lo Pecado