It is hard to miss the news. There are constant reminders that Australia burning up. We hear the whispers of a third world war on the brinks, climate change, dirty politicians, human rights violations, yada, yada. For every video of cute little Fido doing tricks on my news feeds, there is a video of protest.
Have I got you anxious yet?
It is hard for our brains to truly comprehend all that takes place globally, or at least attempt to filter what we are trying to absorb. So my first recommendation is:
1) Take time to feel.
Don't be mistaken. When I say time to feel, I do not mean laying in bed crying about the Koalas (which my gosh, I've been close to doing), I mean appreciate what you are feeling. Even though something may be happening across the world or across the bay, suffering is suffering. We are humans, we feel, we mourn, and we celebrate. It is not a crime to feel. These feelings of discomfort over global phenomena can be channeled for good.
2) Let it motivate you.
When it feels like the world is going to shit, let it make you want to be a better person. We may not be able to change the world, but there are things we can do in our own communities. I am a big believer in change on micro scales. For example, issues I truly feel for push me to go that extra mile in school. I find passion in learning theories and concepts that help me understand my own experiences and how I can apply my findings to greater causes. I understand, by becoming the best version of myself, I am far more likely to have the capability to help others in the future.
On the other hand, there are things you can do now. You can volunteer (be mindful of who and how you volunteer; a blog post for another day), you can educate yourself and the list goes on. However I still understand trying to maintain this positivist and motivation is not always rainbows and butterflies.
3) Don't over do it, give yourself a break and take care of yourself.
We all know that overused cliche: "put your mask on first (referring to when the metaphorical plane is experiencing heavy turbulence), but it is true. What good can we do when we, ourselves, are feeling like shit. Personally, I feel as if I have to build an emotional wall sometimes. The more I learn, the less I feel I know; and the more I sometimes wish I could unlearn statistics like:
I am approx. 4 times more likely to experience physical violence in my life time because I am a black women.
Do not get me wrong, knowledge is power and I accept it comes with a cost. However, there are days where I have to turn off the news, refrain from social media, walk out of a lecture, or kindly say things like "I can't talk politics right now" to friends and family. Trying to learn and understand how our world works can truly be emotionally draining. It is important to make boundaries with ourselves and understand the privilege we have in Western culture to do so.
4) Don't feel guilty for your privilege. Use your privilege to help others.
When I returned to Canada after living in Ghana for three months, I had a hard time adjusting back. I remember coming home and some friends taking me for a night downtown. By 12AM, one of my friends found me drunkenly sobbing at a random girl. I was telling her I felt awful paying $8 for a cocktail while I knew full well what $8 meant for one of my students in Saltpond, the small rural community where I was living and working. A valid feeling, but holding onto this kind of thinking was poisoning me. Of course, there are realities of socioeconomic privileges. I have empathy for those who have less privilege but I have had to changed my perspective. With the cards I have been dealt, my privileges give me power to attempt change. What I worry about now, is how to use this power and not abuse it. Similar to what I mentioned before, in Western world we have a level of agency over what we do on community levels that will ideally ripple into the greater world.
5) Debrief with yourself or with someone else. Take time to reflect.
I am lucky to have someone in my life with whom I can share similar tastes in social commentary and politics that I can vent to. If you do not feel like you have someone you can talk to, I recommend journaling. For those who journal, you can understand the benefits. For those of you who don't journal, you would be amazed by what the pen tells you that the mind can't. Try looking back a few days later at a journal entry to give yourself a third person perspective and you will know what I mean. Regardless, everyone is different and I recommend exploring how you debrief "best". For me, this blog is the perfect space.
I am no professional. I am just a gal living through my experiences. I know some of my recommendations may seem like some airy fairy BS, but it is important to attempt to see the silver lining in all. Listen to yourself and do what it takes in order to keep a level head while trying to navigate an information-heavy world. Although the world is burning and it seems like it is on the fritz, there is also so much wonderful. Most importantly, remember to take time to just breath.
2019, Mount Yasur, Vanuatu