VICE: Andrew W.K. on Growth

Andrew W.K. on Growth | VICE

Given my public “Party” persona, many are surprised or even disappointed to learn I’m not naturally upbeat—that I wasn’t born a golden ray of sunshine. Like most of us, I have moods. And for as long as I can remember, I’ve been almost supernaturally prone to negative emotions. Maintaining a positive outlook has been something I’ve desperately struggled with. I’ve never seen myself as a naturally optimistic person, and have instead lived with an almost unshakable sense that all aspects of existence were inherently wrong and trending toward ever-increasing levels of failure, suffering, and darkness. Any effort to see things in a hopeful light, I thought, was naïve or delusional.

But carrying those kinds of feelings—a soul heavy with dread—can take its toll. So over the years, I’ve made more and more of a rigorous effort to try and sublimate this inner despair that has colored so many of my experiences and perspectives. I do this by finding tiny moments of unquestionable joy and holding on to them tight. Things like music and laughter and inspiring encounters with culture were undeniably uplifting, so I surrounded myself with these things to find small bits of relief and motivation, some pin pricks of light in a vast sea of darkness. These experiences were often fleeting and short-lived, but the impressions they left on me were long-lasting. If I could feel this radiant joy even for a moment, maybe there was a way to hold onto it for longer. Maybe even forever?

Is the glass half full or half empty? This familiar proverbial phrase has always stuck with me, because it says so much in its perfect simplicity. In ways both real and imagined, how you see the world colors what you see in the world. If you see the world positively, that positivity is reflected all around you. You notice the beautiful and appreciate it, and in turn, notice more of it—seek and ye shall find, what you look will show itself to you. In my darkest moments, I’d obsess over this idea of this metaphorical glass and put a tremendous effort to see it (the world) as half full. I was willing a positive outlook from within myself, even when nearly every part of my inner view saw otherwise.

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