I am trying to understand that all pain is relative. I am trying to understand that even though there are people in this world who are suffering far more than me, that it’s okay sometimes that I feel a little broken, too.
I am trying to come to terms with the fact that my parents are people. That they experience fear and pain and uncertainty because they are mortals, and that I am finally at an age where they no longer have to hide this from me. I am starting to see them experience death on a regular basis – of parents and friends and friends’ parents – and I’m feeling their pain cutting into my own heart and I’m learning that sometimes you just have to let the suffering wash over you and change you a little bit.
I am fighting seasonal depression and anxiety. I am fighting the claustrophobic feeling of the darkness settling over me like a heavy sheet at 4:30 in the afternoon. I am fighting the idea born inside my own head that I’m not allowed to feel scared or affected by this seasonal affective disorder because some people deal with this all year round. I am trying to understand that I am still allowed to acknowledge this pain.
I am trying to do good things just for the sake of doing good things. I am trying to tell my ego to shut up when it wants everyone to know. I am trying to keep these things between myself and the maker of my soul. It’s hard.
I am trying to understand why sometimes I feel sad for no reason at all. I am trying to understand why sometimes I feel anxious for no reason at all.
I am trying to cope with the fear that washes over me when this happens, and the worry I have about if I’m going to live the rest of my life feeling this way or if it will last just for this moment or this plane ride or this month or just this year.
I am trying to remember the beaten-to-death idea that social media will not make me feel good or happy or fulfilled. I am trying to read the posts and the lists and the articles about this, because even though the topic sometimes seems contrived, I believe that the writers really do believe these things, even when they don’t practice what they preach. I believe this because I write these things, too. My brain understands that social media doesn’t equate to happiness, but as soon as I’m done writing this piece, I will open Instagram and then close it and then open it again.
I am trying to figure out when I am supposed to speak up and use my voice for others. I am also trying to figure out when my privilege dictates that I should sit down and be quiet and just listen, because not everything is about me and not everything is for me.
I am trying to understand that people whose politics differ from my own are not all villains. I am trying to understand that these people are still humans – they’ve experienced fear, they’ve experienced pain, they’ve experienced the death of a loved one, they have dreams and they care about their families and they have fallen in love before.
I am trying to remember that these people who I don’t agree with – they are broken too.
I am trying to remember this while an angry red flush creeps up my neck as I read their Facebook posts and I watch the news and I see the inequality and hatred and corruption that is spreading under a single person. I am trying to understand their decision-making while also watching fear and anxiety and pain fill up the lungs of anyone in this country who is not white and straight and Christian.
I am trying to understand that the people with opinions different than mine are people too. I am trying to understand how to understand these people. I do not have an answer yet. But I think it lies somewhere in figuring out where the pain is on their side, why they looked past all of the alarming signs of our current leader and voted for him anyway. Where are they hurting? What pain affected their decision? Are they unable to find a job? Did they lose their home? Are they worried about their family? I am trying to remember that while some people really only voted from a place of greed and judgment and a thirst for power – that there are some others who voted because of pain.
I feel a lot of things. I don’t know anything. I am scared. Sometimes I am filled with joy. I am worried about the world. I am just trying to be a person.
Kim Quindlen, Thought Catalog.