The country and world feel more divided and hopeless than ever. How can I make a difference but also preserve my own sanity?
Jaded in January
I hear you and I sympathize with you and you are not alone. I have heard this sentiment repeatedly in the past few months. I’ve read about it on social media. Heck, I’ve even posted about it on social media.
Regardless of your political inclinations or whatever else might be getting you down, there’s a lot to feel sad about it, and it’s legitimate and healthy to acknowledge those feelings. It’s also legitimate and healthy to want to move past feelings of despair and try to find a place from which to be a functional and productive human. I have a few ideas, and while they aren’t likely to fix the big problems, they might give you some fodder for moving yourself forward.
- Pick an issue. There are a lot of actions and reactions swirling around right now. Try your best to determine what you are most passionate about. Do your research to find out what is happening locally to address this issue. Connect with other people who have similar concerns. Feel free to ask me, and I can try to point you in the right direction, too. You will never be able to tackle everything, so picking a small piece to focus on with manageable goals along the way can help you feel more in control.
- Find community. You can connect with like-minded people in any number of settings: religious, cultural, arts, activism, geographic, etc. Use your networks to figure out where you are most likely to find meaningful connections. If you don’t have networks like that, reach out to people who do, either through work, school, synagogues, neighborhood associations … Get the idea? Talk to people about wanting to talk to more people. You don’t need throngs of best friends, but a handful of solid, supportive people can make a big difference when you’re feeling overwhelmed. If you had connections like this in the past that you’ve let slip, reach out to people who used to play a bigger role in your life. Even if you just strike up conversation with someone at a bus stop or in a coffee shop, it’s a good way to remember that you’re not alone.
- Take a break. Take a break from the news, from social media, from tension. Watch junk on TV if that’s what’s restorative to you. Go to the gym, read a book, try out a new recipe for dinner, get into the adult coloring craze. Your hobbies don’t have to be transformative for the world as long as they are nourishing for you.
Looking forward to advising, and if need be, commiserating, in the new year.