Now is Not the Time For Self Care

By Jackie Ellin

I haven’t decided whether or not I will watch Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20. I can’t watch it live because I’ll be at work. But he’ll be on the news, on the radio, on the internet. He’ll be everywhere. He’ll be everywhere the next day. And the day after that. And the day after that for next four years, at least.

I slept minimally the night of the election, dozing in and out until 3:30 AM where the news stations were calling it for Trump. I remember waking up throughout the night with the television still on in my bedroom and only turned it off after seeing a map of red on the screen. The next day was a blur, the only feeling I can compare it to was grief. My fiancé and I had our morning coffee in silence, broken by the occasional “I can’t believe it.” We were both shocked, but also not. The anti-establishment wave was obvious to everyone except those too far up top in the clouds to see it. Throughout the day shock turned to anger, then anger into fear.

I grew up in a liberal state, but growing up I wasn’t liberal. I identified as a Republican, though I never really used the word. I prefered “socially liberal, fiscal conservative.” I believed in state’s rights, gun rights, and the death penalty. I believed that welfare programs were nothing but blank checks to people who would never be motivated to make something of themselves. I believed in bootstraps, and white privilege and feminism had not yet reached my vocabulary.

I changed very quickly during college, with some help from the internet. I grew up in a mostly white, suburban, upper-middle class town, and college was the first place where my limited ideas of the world were challenged. I sought out these challenges and they sought out me, and I am forever grateful for the YouTube channels and blogs that taught me that the world was a complex place, and that social justice, education, and an equal playing field was the rising tide that floats all boats, not just tax cuts. I am a passionate progressive. Heck, I’m about to marry someone who is practically a socialist. Ten years ago I’d scoff at the idea of single payer universal health care. If I was a single issue voter single-payer, that would be it. Now  it seems further away than ever.

The skill I improved the most in college was empathy. I believe empathy is like a muscle, it must be utilized and exercised for it to grow and be maintained, and nothing challenged that more than this particular election season. As a liberal progressive, it was easy to vilify the majority of Trump supporters. But people are upset that the world is changing rapidly, and I don’t blame them. It’s scary to think that your job you’ve been doing for 20+ years might not be there tomorrow. The views on why are different for everyone it seems, and it seems easier to scapegoat immigrants  and China instead of blaming other economic forces like demand for cheaper natural gas and automation.

So I try to empathize and understand, but my patience is waning thin. I can’t understand why people would want to vote for someone who clearly has no respect for them, who clearly thinks they are easily baited and entertained with nothing but bread and circus. For people who jumped on every lie Hillary Clinton has or might have told, they certainly seem to have all the tolerance in the world for the lies that Donald Trump tells every day of his life. Or maybe they just don’t care.

When Donald Trump won the presidency, almost every article on my Facebook and Twitter feed was on self-care. As someone who suffers from depression, I am not a stranger to self-care. But it just seemed so strange and selfish to turn inward. I have friends who are wondering if their marriage will no longer be recognized. There are nurses in my family who are concerned for their jobs if the healthcare industry is thrown into disarray. But, like in an airplane, if you don’t put your oxygen mask on first, you might pass out before you can put it on someone else who already had. I turned off the news, stopped listening to NPR on my commute, and stopped reading the comments. It helped, for a while.

But we are just days from Inauguration Day. The plane has landed, smoky and charred, and the time for self-care is over. We can no longer keep turning inward because that is what got us in this mess. We are too individualistic. We ignore the collective health of society for our own and we all suffer because of it. We now must open our eyes, turn NPR back on. We must call our representatives, we must vote in local, state, and federal elections. We must pay our fair share of taxes. We must donate to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. We must not feed the trolls. We must make art and fervently defend those who will be targeted by the new administration.

So maybe I’ll turn on the Inauguration, because now is not the time for radical self-care. It is time to feel uncomfortable.


Jackie is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty on Tap. To apply to become a Contributing Writer, please click here.

{featured image via pexels}

3 thoughts on “Now is Not the Time For Self Care

  1. unscriptedcafe says:

    Thank you! I couldn’t agree more with your sentiment. I also turned inward for some time, contemplating how we go here, what happened, my responsibility in the situation. But, now it is time to act, get involved, and listen to those that feel unheard and left behind. I cannot remain in a stupor with my head in the sand. Vigilance is my new imperative. Turning a blind eye will only tacitly condone the actions of those looking to turn back our country 50 years.

    Like

  2. bctessier says:

    Amazing well written article. My favorite quote:

    “But people are upset that the world is changing rapidly, and I don’t blame them. It’s scary to think that your job you’ve been doing for 20+ years might not be there tomorrow. The views on why are different for everyone it seems, and it seems easier to scapegoat immigrants and China instead of blaming other economic forces like demand for cheaper natural gas and automation.”

    Beautifully written. This is the embodiment of our current economic issues in North America. Bang on!

    Like

  3. Margarita says:

    Connect within, act out. We must still practice self-care. This doesn’t mean being blind or unaware of what’s happening in the world. It does mean tuning in to charge our batteries so that we may do our patriotic duty, SPEAK OUT, every day of the next four years. Yes, Self-care is still important, and needs to be adjusted to prevailing conditions. 😉 xoM

    Like

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