Lately, longing on to social media reminds me of the time I picked up the front doormat to shake off the dust and dirt – and discovered a family of spiders underneath. Perhaps the people I know (or thought I knew) had racist, intolerant underpinnings all along, but there was never an opportunity or purpose in showing those qualities until this election. Suddenly, doormats are lifted everywhere, exposing ugliness that once was considered inappropriate to air in public, and it’s all okay. It’s free speech, after all. It’s American.
I haven’t been okay lately. As naïve as it may be in this day and age to consider any space a “safe space,” the truth is that I always thought America was one of the most progressive places on earth. I believed that my country was the embodiment of true democratic justice. And yet, this month the convicted Standford rapist Brock Turner served only three months of his already laughable six-month prison sentence. He’s a free man now, but I’ve seen more furious posts about Colin Kaepernick’s protest against the national anthem. I’ve seen posts insisting that “racism isn’t as bad as it used to be” and rape victims should just keep their knees together. A police officer was fired for not firing his gun.
Only in America?
I’m so emotionally worn out to the point of apathy. I’m edgy, restless, and depressed that the places and people I thought were safe are turning out to be toxic. I’m just plain tired.
I’m especially jaded by self-professing Christians refusing to put on a different pair of lenses and see the world through others’ eyes. Quite honestly, I’m terrified of people who claim to worship a refugee with minority status, and yet cheer enthusiastically at the prospect of electing a man who wants to build a wall to keep them out. I’m scared and anxious to the point of chronic nausea and fatigue, yet still I tell myself, This is America, this can’t happen here.
And I don’t even have it as badly as others do; I’m merely an observer of this chaos, feeling small and ineffective. I want to do something, and shut myself down with “What’s the point?” The people who have the most power to make positive change are using it for evil instead, and it seems they are winning. What good can I do?
I can’t change the world, but I can take better care of myself, so at least I am in good condition to make changes when the opportunity arises. I can drag my tired self into the shower and eat healthy meals. I can read good books. I can light candles and drink tea. I can go back to writing handwritten notes of encouragement and mail them out to friends who won’t be expecting them. I can cuddle my adorable cats, who believe the world is their catnip-laced oyster.
I can make the world better by first making myself better. And that’s all I can handle for right now. I’ve used my platform to speak out against injustice in the past, only to be met with hateful, trolling comments in return, effectively scaring me away from speaking out again (at least in the near future). But it’s not as if I didn’t know that speaking up has consequences; I was just ill-prepared to handle them. I want to be counted as one of the “good guys” on the right side of history, but I’m not quite the brave activist I thought I was. I’m not sure what else I can do.
Part of my self-care regimen is allowing myself to return to my childhood love of choreography. Fight Song by Rachel Platten has taken on personal meaning for me, and I’m so proud of the progress I’ve made with the first 60 seconds of the song (just please ignore Siri’s “low battery” warning in the middle).