The new year is always kind of a letdown. It’s new! But everything feels the same. This year in particular I am wary, bordering on hopeless. I want many, many things. I make lists. I’ve started a bullet journal. I plan for a future that seems to be getting farther and farther away from my reach.
I find it difficult to speak eloquently about the issues facing our country and our world. Who am I? Just one citizen, armed with a New York Times subscription and a liberal Facebook echo chamber. I’ve been doing my best to educate and inform myself, but everything moves so quickly. I feel vastly unqualified.
The political situation in the United States has been a test of my compassion. I read about people who may lose their health care and people who still remain uninsured. I read about hate crimes. I read about fear. I read about women fighting for their rights, our rights. I read about the danger to our climate and environment. Everywhere around us there are vipers, dangers close at hand. Since the election’s close, I’ve felt a constant state of crisis. It’s paralyzing. It might sound insincere, but I worry about everyone. These stories tug at my heart and cause a tightness in my chest. I’m just concerned and I don’t know what to do with those feelings without letting them swallow me up. It’s difficult to see the people on the other side of the aisle complexly when I can’t understand why they’d want to pass legislation that would do so much harm. Why can’t they see? Am I missing something? Is it me? It’s tempting to just unplug and retreat.
But that’s not really an option now, is it?
I have publicly announced my One Word for 2017 to be “Fight.” This term has many applications. Personally, I want to fight for myself and my desires: my career, ambitions, and future. This means prioritizing myself, even when it feels like it isn’t the right thing to do. I have a tendency to accumulate projects, specifically other people’s projects. I am a pretty good manager. I like to help other people get things done. I take a great sense of pride and accomplishment in that work and dedicate myself fully to what I do. But I want to have something that is mine, where the stakes feel higher, and where I care so very deeply because it’s mine. This might mean having to say no to certain projects, which isn’t something I’m good at. I hate feeling like I’m letting people down.
There are projects I’d like to complete and work I’d like to do, if I just gave myself time and permission to do so.
I want to fight for this country, whatever that entails and whatever I can contribute. I know I come from a more privileged position than some people. I hope I can use whatever influence I might have, even if it is very small, to guide this country in a better direction, even if that means calling Congress every week or marching up and down all the streets of Boston in the cold or just saying something when I see an injustice.
Today I was sitting at my desk, listening to Michelle Obama speak publically for the last time as First Lady. As I listened, I wept, silently wiping away my tears. What a gift the Obamas have been these last eight years. I came into my adulthood just as President Obama was first elected. I want to be strong and hopeful. I don’t want to be afraid. But I am. It’s so hard not to be when it feels like so much is at stake, when I fear for myself and millions of strangers. In the face of so much unknown, we will just have to keep trying: be vigilant and wait and see where we can be useful and what we can accomplish.