I haven't really watched that many TED talks. Like, I want to be a person who watches a lot of TED talks, because smart, exciting, innovative people have lots of cool, groundbreaking, essential shit to say in them, right? Everything you need to learn about yourself, about anything, is on the internet. I could replace my Master's Degree ambitions with TED talks and Skillshare sessions and YouTube videos, I know it. I have a million saved on my Netflix queue. I mean to watch them. I want to be well informed about space and physics and why stupid, idiotic humans continue being fucking stupid and idiotic and human. But I watched this one because my therapist told me it was my homework this week. And after seeing it, I am very, very confident that I picked the right therapist.
Maybe it's because Brené Brown is a left brained analytic, right brained emotional empath like me, and she explains things from a point of view of a researcher and an analyst and also a writer and a person who is super lost in her own head, that it makes sense to me. I knew in the first two minutes this lady was legit. Maybe it's because I needed to hear that vulnerability is the solution, not the problem. Maybe it's because she made me remember that compassion is the way to serenity. Especially compassion toward myself. I think my favorite line in that whole talk is when she says that the people she studied who were most fully living in gratitude and joy were the ones who accepted their imperfections. They stopped being what they thought they should be and embraced who they are.
So I listened. I laugh cried. I worked on my night cheese.
I'm not built for indifference. I'm emotionally high maintenance. I need a lot of attention and affection and reassurance. I give those things in abundance, freely. I don't think this means I'm not independent or confident or individual. I just place a high value on personal connections. And I tend to isolate myself from friends and family when something is wrong. I'm a nester, but I'm also avoidant and easily offended. I'm sensitive. I am a super feeler. I'm manipulative and passive aggressive and I have a script that I want to play out and when it doesn't, I get mortally wounded. Or maybe I'm just a delusional, insane narcissist.
Cynicism is so easy now. Because everything, absolutely everything, is fucking broken and scary and wrong and destroyed. That terrible post-apocalyptic future is coming. It's here. We may not feel it yet, really, but we all know it. We can feel it in our bones. It may not be The Walking Dead style Atlanta nightmare, but it's coming. We are incapable of fixing the environment, the racial and gender injustice, the fact that it's now essentially legal for a police officer to kill you for no reason and not be prosecuted, even if it's fully captured on video. If you are a female, you can be raped and no one will be punished. I am afraid to walk alone at night. We can't fix the poverty, the religious wars, the pollution, the disease. People are starving to death in Syria. People are losing their homes because of global warming and the fact that we value consumerism over prosperity. It's impossible to keep up the facade of a middle class standard of living in the cities we love. There are 7 billion of us, and it's hard to believe I will ever find another person on this earth who can understand me in the way I crave. We are more lonely, disconnected, high, numb, addicted, and checked out than ever before. It's not the best time to be alive really. Like, the writing is on the fucking wall. YOU ARE FUCKING DOING IT WRONG, HUMANS. For real. Optimism seems like a sad vestige of the 60s.
So my solution is to make my life smaller. I want to be in the streets protesting for the value of black lives. I feel that pain acutely, and I believe in that. I am ashamed of the white culture and privilege that perpetuates this state in our society. I am ashamed to be a white woman, A white feminist. A middle classish American. I benefit from the oppression of others. I am a part of it and yet I want to help change it. But I can't. I can't do anything but try to go to sleep on time and eat fairly well and exercise and love people and find some kind of respite. The best thing I can do is try to be a better person. Sometimes, the best thing to do is to just shut the fuck up and listen and not take up space that belongs to the oppressed. A lot of times, being an ally means being silent.
I find myself being smothered and suffocated with the presence of the device. A device is in my hand from the moment I wake up until the last thing when I go to sleep. I used to remember times where I wouldn't even look at my phone until 11 am or later. Now, I can't finish a 250 page book because I can't put down the goddamn phone. I remember making a conscious decision not to have a TV in my bedroom. I used to have a "no screens in the bed" policy. But I break it. I let my partner break it. Because I am numbing myself to my vulnerability. Because then, we don't have to actually be present with each other. Ever. Or with ourselves. I want to find myself in stillness. I want to find a way to soothe without becoming hysterical. I want to stop holding resentment at the device against the people I love the most. I want to find a way to be okay and to love without being selfish. Sometimes loving that much is smothering. I want to let myself be alive and breathe and remember that I have the capacity for love and gratitude. That in my flawed, fucked up state, I am enough. I am not broken. A breakdown is just another term for having a spiritual awakening.