You are sick of the world. You start, cynical, that there’s no one who quite understands you, that there’ll never be, because this society is nuts. You’ve been burned enough, and you’re not having it anymore.
You treat new people and new coworkers as perpetual strangers, that they can’t penetrate your world because they’re bound to leave or hate you and your politics anyway. Some don’t believe in your intersectionality, and you don’t feel fully human in their presence. You’re alone.
You think one day that nothing can shock you anymore, that you’ll never be surprised at this point, and then some crazy awful thing happens, and an orange man is suddenly going to be leading, and a sea of red threatens to take rights to your body away, and that knocks you off your feet and changes your whole world view.
You’re more cynical now, wondering how this environment can be like this, thinking about retreating for a while, because you can’t stand to see the world like this. Wondering whether people are innately awful or if it’s a select few ruining the world for the rest.
This world isn’t what you thought it was going to be. You stop the snarky diatribes on Facebook because you’ve pissed off enough of your friends in your attempt to be sarcastic and avoid the whole situation altogether. You stop the angry texting. You have dinners with friends and try to connect in person. But you also get away from the organizing you’ve been doing.
You try reading everything you can get your hands on to understand, finding podcasts that might explain what just happened, only for your world to get more complex. You wonder if your brain can hold onto all this new knowledge.
From the time you were six, you were going to be a teacher. You were going to change lives, push your students to fight hard, too. And you were going to find the people around you to fight with. You still push for that.
And yet you see the suffering around you and you think to the future, wondering how you’re going to continue to not only wade through this life but make your difference happen. The older people around you tell you it’s gonna be fine, that they don’t have things figured out, either. But then they legitimize that you, a young person, got a raw deal.
You wonder how this is all going to change. How can it change?
You work on yourself first, because everyone says you need to get your life together before you work on anything else. So you start exercising regularly for the first time in a long time. (It helps that it’s January so lots around you are following their New Year’s Resolutions- for this month, anyway.) You write, write more than you have in a while. You hang with long-time friends who give you perspective. You mend things with family, because, like it or not, they’re your fam for the rest of your life.
Nothing in your world is perfect, but nothing’s going to collapse, either. You move with regular motion after a while. You’re feeling connected again.
And then you dip your feet back into what you’ve been avoiding. You’re putting yourself back in the world.
You’re not scared of getting burned again. Well, you keep telling yourself that. You most likely WILL get burned again, but the love before? The fullness of being? Knowing you were fulfilling all that life’s purpose and you had your people, your group, backing you, fighting with you, together? It was all worth it before, even if it was only for a short time, and it’s worth it now. You just needed time to remember that.
You meet a guy at the bar who’s cynical yet optimistic and raring to change his world. You meet others at a party who’s been wanting to bring you into an org for a while. Your former swagger that existed- while fighting for Bernie Sanders and when canvassing for state reps and alderwomen and when fighting for education funding and special education rights for your students- is showing again.
You re-realize you DO have allies everywhere. You talk to the people you’ve been wanting to talk to for years, wanting to build movements together. You have coquito with a fellow movement builder and his family to regain that sense of urgency.
You grind your retainers at night, wondering how you’re gonna get screwed again. Being an Asian women from a working class background means people have tried to tokenize you, hypersexualize you. Because you’re young, people don’t think you understand the world enough, that you’re naive.
And you remember the people who build with you and who want to broaden the world, too. Think all you bring is an asset.
You become optimistic again. Hardened, but optimistic. There are people willing to see you in your full humanity, but your hardened self, as much as it wants to see the full humanity in others, has been burned one too many times. And your instinct is to retreat.
You remember your first love then. That you opened up in a way you never had before. You shared everything, and being vulnerable was the source of all strength. You didn’t have that hardness when you were nineteen when you started dating, or 24 when you joined your first political organization. You were so ready to share all of you, because you wanted the listener to be empowered to open up, too. And then you built together.
None of that lasted. It was good while it lasted. And then you became bitter and casual like never before. Each time the relationship ended you became more distant from what you initially were fighting for.
That hurt will always be there, you say. But there’s only so much of life that I’m allowed to live while also holding this hurt, and I better take it on.
And so you dive in again in unknown, alien, harsh territory, and you’re not sure who’s there to grow with you. You’ve got the fam, friends, folk in your life in the background holding you down, though.
And you’ve been in love enough times to know it’s worth fighting for.
You dive in, hoping to fall in love again with whatever comes.