Alright, friends. I'm taking a break from the "Things People with Anxiety want You to Know During the Holidays" because I'm angry. I'm angry and disappointed. I've been glued to the impeachment hearings just like many of you have. I'm not going to talk about them specifically, but I am going to talk about what has happened to our country over the past 3 years.
Why do we hate each other so much? Seriously.
I am a podcast junkie. One of my favorites is NPR's Hidden Brain. I recently listened to an episode called, "In The Heat Of The Moment" (I'll embed it below). In this episode, it talked about "hot" and "cold" states and how these states interact with our ability to empathize with ourselves and others. For example, the host, Shankar Vedantam, had a colleague who was going to attempt to keep his hand in a cup of ice water for a minute. After about 20 seconds, he pulled his hand out because he couldn't take the cold. However, just a few minutes later, he had already forgotten that pain and was sure he could do it again. Spoiler alert: He still couldn't. Shankar discusses how when we are in "cold" (not directly related to temperature...it's just ironically related to the ice water scenario) states, we cant predict how we will act in "hot" states. And once we're out of those "hot" states, we can't understand why we acted the way we did or even accurately predict how we will react when we are put in a "hot" state again because we have an empathy gap with ourselves and others.
I believe this is what's happening in our country right now. We are struggling to empathize with people who have it worse AND better than us. Yesterday, I worked my primary job from 7:30-4 then I waited tables from 4:30-9:30, and I'll do it again today. My primary job requires a master's, which I have, but it does not pay enough for us to live on. I am, by no means, complaining about my primary job. I love it. I love being able to help people, and I was willing to make financial sacrifices to make it work. I also love waiting tables. I love interacting with people. I love making people happy. BUT, I don't love leaving for work while my kids are still sleeping and coming home after they've gone to bed (just kidding, they're never asleep when I get home, but I do hate only seeing them for about 30 minutes a day). I also don't enjoy how 12-14 hour work days impact my chronic illness and make my body swell and ache for days. I am not asking for a single bit of pity. I chose my career. I chose my degree. What I am asking for is a little bit of empathy.
I have seen so many horrible comments regarding people from my generation. We are "entitled." We are "whiny." We are "lazy." No, we aren't. We're working 2-4 jobs. We're in debt up to our eyeballs because we were manipulated to buy into a broken system. We can't afford houses. We avoid the doctor because we don't have insurance or can't afford our deductible. We aren't whining; we're speaking our truth. I'm going to make a bold statement: No one should have to choose between having a family and getting the skills or education needed to help them attain a job that allows them to share their gifts with the world. Here's another bold statement: No one should have to choose between paying rent/mortgage and going to see the doctor when there is something wrong with them. Maybe, you were able to pay for your college while working a part-time job. We couldn't. Maybe, you have your health. But, some of us don't.
I am not debating forgiving student loans or universal healthcare, but I am urging you to do something a bit difficult today. I want you to put yourself in the shoes of someone who has a life path that doesn't look like yours. And friends in my boat, I still ask you to do the same. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who has worked hard to pay off student loans or someone who rarely has to see a doctor. Again, I want no pity. Actually, in the grand scheme of things, I have immense privilege. I'll continue to work as much as I need to provide for my family and pay the bills I have accrued because I am a bit lucky to even have those opportunities. However, I refuse to be disrespected and degraded because I want a world where people can share their gifts with the world and still afford to live.
In a previous blog, I told you the best marriage advice I was given: You can both be tired. Friends, we can all be happy. Maybe, you worked hard for all you have. I'm proud of you. Maybe, you were dealt a really shitty hand. I see you. Maybe, you are currently working towards your dreams. Keep striving! Maybe, you're already there. You're awesome! There's plenty to go around. Empathize, please.