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Anxiety and Activism


Anxiety and Activism

Erin Wilson

by Erin Wilson

This blog post is one I've been mulling over for a while. I definitely had some of the thoughts that'll be included several years ago, but most of these thoughts come from the last almost 2 years since the 2016 election.

I, like many people I know, was upset by the results of the 2016 election. I felt like there was nothing I could do. Things felt hopeless.

Sometimes, they still do. But something I'm working on is finding ways to be the change. I've always admired those who participated in activism. I've longed to go be at protests, to march, to join a group of people in resisting systems of oppression.

I've watched friends go and do. I've felt incapable of action. I've felt overwhelmed by the darkness of this world.

This past year has been especially difficult, as I was a bisexual woman working for an organization where that identity could have (probably would have) cost me my job if I was "out". I stayed closeted for many reasons, but being closeted created an increased self-consciousness that was unhealthy. My anxiety was intense. I wasn't fully aware that anxiety was the biggest issue, but I knew I felt overwhelmed and incapable.

I was overcome with false worthlessness. I felt I could do nothing to improve my situation, so how could I do anything to improve the oppression in my town, my state, or my country? It became increasingly harder for me to care. I mean, I cared. I cared deeply about these things. I still do. But I tried to convince myself that it didn't matter to me, because it was "easier" to ignore the atrocities that are taking place all over the country (and let's be honest-the world).

Now, I'm sure if I had spent any time at all considering these difficult things with any sort of patience and presence of mind that I would have realized that pretending I didn't care wouldn't help anyone, but especially not me.

I've always felt convicted when people have said things about not fighting against the oppressors makes you an oppressor. I've felt like I've failed. I haven't been strong enough to go out and work to accomplish change and protect the marginalized.

The thing is, though, that while it's true that doing nothing can be a way of becoming an oppressor yourself, doing something (even if just a small, seemingly insignificant something) can be enough.

Sometimes, my anxiety tells me I'm incapable. Other times, I push through it and recognize how capable I really am.

Some days I feel more capable than others. Those are the days I need to use well. Those are the days I need to step up and speak out.

I'm learning that while I'm overwhelmed by the thought of participating in a march or a protest with a lot of other people, I can still share a post of Facebook or Twitter. I can research and help find resources for those who are able to attend marches and protests in person. I can use the skills, gifts, and talents I have to support in a variety of ways.

Sometimes, a little task is a huge support to someone who feels overwhelmed by it.

Each of us must do our part. That's it. Our PART. We're not expected to do it all. Did you hear that, self? YOU'RE NOT EXPECTED TO DO IT ALL!

Help people. Ask questions. Learn. Do the very best you can. When you learn how to do better, do better.

For me, doing better is recognizing the ways I'm able to participate in activism and the ways I'm not able to participate. It's ok that I participate differently, but I have to participate. I'm capable of many things, and when I use those things to reduce oppression, that's activism.

TAKE THAT, anxiety.

So, can I support you in your activism? What things can you send my way to learn more about specific topics/issues? How can I help you feel empowered to step up in ways you're able?

It's a long road, but I'm willing to keep walking it. Can we walk it together?

Posted with permission. Original found here.