Despite a pandemic from which millions of people have suffered and are suffering, oceans on fire and ice caps melting, people being murdered, racism remaining rampant, pipelines being built, young and poor folks in never-ending debt, and technological vortexes swallowing us wholly, we are expected to wake up every morning and sit in a classroom or at our nine to five jobs. If we do not have either, we experience sleepless nights during due to unemployment. We are expected to perform our tasks well and respond to every email in a respectable amount of time. We are expected to do all of this while making sure that we eat, exercise, and look our best. We are expected to have amazing relationships and form picture perfect memories every weekend. We are expected to be well-read (whatever this means) and keep up with pop culture. We are expected to check in on our friends and be there for them in their downfalls. We are expected to do all of this with sound minds. Couple this with any health problems, disabilities, or having vaginas and everything becomes a little more lemony.
If we reduce, reuse, and recycle, the ocean will stop burning, right? Right, because the day that I forgot to compost my banana peels is why we are in this predicament – not the corporations exploiting the environment and their workers while their CEOs sit atop billions of dollars. Personal responsibility is important, but the collective is too. Collective consumption from brands that market everything as cheap and affordable is commonplace in the cyclical pursuit of survival.
This same thought process is given to everything else. If everyone shares the same Instagram infographic, the world will be absolved of racism. If our resumes are formatted well, we will be hired immediately. If we exercise for thirty minutes every day and eat some fruit, our mental illnesses will be cured with the snap of our fingers. We tell ourselves to journal, tweet, or podcast away all of these worries because these will all be great stories to tell when we’re in better places.
With parts of the world opening themselves to the public again, I find myself overwhelmed (and I am an extrovert!). The virus and its variants are still present, but we are suddenly thrown back into society as though the pandemic did not exist. Obviously, we have to move forward, but are we approaching the matter in the safest way possible? I do not know how I am supposed to respond to emails while this is looming over me, in addition to the never-ending news regarding our planet and the violence it, and its inhabitants, face. One would probably recommend that I take a break from all of the things that cause my anxiety, but how does one take a break from this world? Even if I did not read it on the news, I would see it in the streets.
Of course, this is not about me or any one specific person. We all have tough days or even months or years, but we forget this and, like I have stated in previous posts, view each other as commodities. We expect so much from one another and internalize it so deeply that we expect twice as much from ourselves. On a personal note, I am doing as much as I can to prepare for my move to Boston while also seeing as many friends as possible before I depart. On a global note, I am constantly in panic regarding the state of our earth. Everyone is worried about this, but nothing changes. I know that people and corporations with power and money see the same disasters that I see, but I also know that they are comfortable, likely not as young as I am, and enjoy “circling back” and “following up” and “workshopping the language” rather than actually acting.
I just think, after the past year and a half, that we should be better at giving each other grace than we currently are. So much suffering is happening right before our eyes, but we are expected to submit our timesheets without any accessible support to keep going. We fold into the darkest parts of ourselves, but plaster smiles on our faces when the Zoom meeting starts.
This post might be all over the place, but it is just a tiny reflection of how I (and I assume a lot of others) am feeling. Humans can handle a lot of stress and trauma, but we should not have to do so every single day. We all deserve the very best.