A couple of weeks ago, I wrote A Brief Look Back at 2020 for the writing prompt for that week: Write a Journal Entry About Your COVID-19 Year. And now that I think about it, I suppose this week’s writing prompt is a continuation of that writing prompt, and that journal entry.

2020 was an extremely stressful year for most of us, myself included. We all had to adjust the way we worked and lived, substantially, in one way or another. And if we haven’t yet dealt with the stress we experienced in 2020, chances are high that the same stress is still with us today. Especially since, even after a year has gone by, it doesn’t seem as if much has changed. Except for our newfound abilities to be desensitized and numb to all the chaos and persistent uncertainty that living through a pandemic has forced upon us. There is a reason, after all, that 80% of Americans reported emotions associated with prolonged stress recently.

However, the good news, especially for us writers, is that writing about what we’re stressed about can help us understand our stress better so that we can do something about it. I’ll go first. Here’s my attempt to do just that…

After I completed the exercise at the end of yesterday’s post (included in the premium subscriber content section) I realized that what I’m really stressed out about right now is the state of my country and the state of the world. At first, if I’m being honest, I didn’t even want to type out that last sentence because it seems so ridiculous, yet simultaneously mundane. This stressor is so general yet dire and important all at the same time. It’s such a huge concern and stressor of mine, yet it’s also so incredibly vague that it becomes almost meaningless at the same time. But I know that I need to continue to make sense of it and write about it so that it will become less vague, and so that I’ll be able to deal with it a little better.

So… there it is, that’s what’s stressing me out the most: the chaotic, uncertain, and volatile state of my country and the world. It’s a huge and hard to pinpoint stressor. But it’s also so profound that it’s beginning to contort and influence my everyday life now. And it probably went by unnoticed for so long because it’s both so huge and so vague at first glance. It’s hard to see something or understand something when you don’t look at it closely precisely because it is with you all day, every day, and becomes your “normal.”

I suppose this stressor is what led me to start this blog. I needed to write and talk about things that matter to individuals and the world simultaneously. I believe that we can better understand ourselves by understanding the world better AND that we can also better understand the world by understanding ourselves better.

While I know I’m not alone in having this stressor I have, I often feel alone with this stressor and my concerns about it because everyone else seems to get caught up in reacting to the day-to-day minutiae of life every day, when oftentimes I just can’t. I don’t see my day-to-day life as being separate from this big source of stress I have: the state of the world. Instead, I see my days as being a byproduct of it, the state of the world, and as connected and linked directly to it. And this is why I need to address my stressor, understand it, and learn how to deal with it as soon as possible.

While I want to reach out and connect with others and discuss what’s going on in the world (whether online or in-person once COVID is contained) I become stressed out when all people want to do is point fingers or share petty and childish memes or talk trash about or cancel out others who think and believe differently from them. All of this vitriol and pettiness is emotionally toxic, sure, but it is also wasting a whole lot of time that we just don’t have.

Whether we like it or not, we are all physically present on this planet breathing the same air together, so if we don’t start acting like it soon, we will all literally be toast, whether due to a nuclear holocaust or because a select few have continued to choose greed and power over sustainability and life for every human being and living organism on the planet. Typing out that last sentence seems so… extreme…but, aren’t we living in extreme times? So why should I feel so weird about typing that out? Probably because I don’t want it to get lost in all the dramatic noise of today. But honestly, yes, what is stressing me out, is that most people are behaving like they aren’t connected to the other human beings who inhabit the same Earth as they do. I truly do believe that we have a lot more in common than we don’t if we seek first and foremost what connects us. And starting with the basics of what we have in common, like the fact that we all breathe the same air, may seem silly at first… but if you think about what breathing the same air really means regarding our profound connection as humans who inhabit the same Earth, it becomes a lot less silly.

After the insurrection at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, I realized that for a long time now, perhaps for about five years or so, I have tried to ignore or downplay how stressed and worried I am about the state of things in my country and in the world. Why? To be honest, I feel as if no one is listening. I mean, truly and actively listening. Everyone seems to be too preoccupied with creating quippy and rude memes and retorts and attacking each other and assuming they know each other before they ever even try to talk with each other, I mean really talk with each other with mutual respect. Everyone seems to be so busy being childish and calling each other by childish nicknames they made up, thinking that’s making a statement or being clever. When, in reality, all it is is a bunch of noise that’s blocking out those of us (who I do believe are the majority; we’re just not needlessly loud and sometimes get caught up in the responsibilities of life) who are actually interested in getting to the heart of things, to move forward in practical, humane ways, together. We just don’t want to have to resort to petty childishness in order to move on with life together.

Why does it seem that everyone is caught up in all the vitriolic childish noise right now? Is it because people are resorting to the only defense mechanisms they know, and are just as scared and worried as I am, unsure of who really wants to listen and talk? Or is it because those of us who want to work together as equal humans are drowned out by all the noise and petty banter, so it seems as if we’re not speaking at all?

Ultimately, I can intuit that I am definitely not alone in what’s stressing me out. But is there anyone else out there who is really ready to talk and move forward together, for all human beings, whether those human beings agree with them 100% on everything or not? The only thing we need to agree on to start with is that we all breathe the same air and inhabit the same Earth. None of us are better or lesser than anyone else. We just are. And we just breathe. Truly acknowledging that basic fact of humanity will ensure everything else deliberated on is humane too. Won’t it? Or perhaps, if that fact were recognized, there wouldn’t need to be much deliberation at all.

What’s stressing you out? Write it out to work it out. Check out the premium content below for guidance or inspiration on how to start writing about what is stressing you out.


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