Keep On Keeping On
The "Keep Calm & Carry On" of a New Generation.
"Keep calm and carry on" is ubiquitous with surviving tough times. But for those of us born well after the second world war, we mainly know the expression for its lighter side, mostly from memes—like this one, which is free to download from Destination Craft.
The expression was thrown around in earnest at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 quite a lot in the part of the world in which I am fortunate enough to live. But then, like everything and everyone of late, it simply wore out. It lost its ability to bolster our courage, or at least it did mine. So, I found myself turning to a new turn of phrase instead, and it's become a bit of a 2022 anthem for me.
Why I like it better and why it might help you, too.
While the original phrase suited a generation who was used to steeling their hearts and hiding their emotions, the wording now rings in Millennial and Gen Z ears' as dismissive.
Everyday we're told to express how we feel, keep friends and family up to date on our mental and physical health, inform our bosses immediately upon hiring of our disabilities, accommodations etc. Except for the occasional troll, most times the declarations are appreciated, and seen for what they are: responsible, adult steps towards better health and community.
And generally, our admission of weakness is not dismissed.
People do want to end a conversation delicately, and I often find myself searching for words that will acknowledge the struggle of what we've just spoken about without minimizing it.
Keep on keeping on acknowledges exhaustion.
It simultaneously states that we know we must continue doing something, but it is difficult.
Has there ever been an anxious person anywhere for whom "keep calm" echoed repeatedly in their ears ever really helped?
I don't know. Maybe it's just me, but telling me to stay calm when I'm anxious and upset is kind of the equivalent of telling me to "smile" for the sake of people pleasing.
It's smarmy at best and hella out of touch with current realities.
But "keep on keeping on" is something I. CAN. DO.
Because I am resilient.
Because we all are resilient, as a species.
However, I want to acknowledge the struggle. That is isn't easy to be resilient. That keeping on comes with fatigue and mistakes and imperfection and setbacks; that some weeks it is one step forward and five steps back.
I will continue.
We must continue.
So, the next time you find yourself grasping for words of comfort, or closure after a difficult dialogue—either in self talk or with a friend—I would suggest giving the phrase a try. It's surprising how much it helps me, whether I'm being told the words or saying them.
Keeping on keeping on is something we all must focus on right now, regardless of where you live.
Thanks for reading. If you're looking for more information on how you can help the refugees fleeing Ukraine, I highly recommend my longtime favourite charity, The Canadian Red Cross. Included below is a direct link.
If you liked this story, you might enjoy my interview with fellow Vocal writer, Dr. Rasha Roshdy. I do intend to get back to interviews soon, but for now I am keeping on, keeping on.
Lastly, this letter serves as a formal resignation from VSS.
Much love. Xx
"Who we are is a question that has many angles. We often consider it from the vertex of what we do for a living or our hobby, but if writing fiction has taught me anything, it's that the little things are what matter the most. The fabric of our lives is woven largely with the simpler threads of our inner thoughts, aspirations and day-to-day activities, which surround the more visible portions of the pattern in the tapestry. Ultimately, it is the "in-between" that makes for the best storytelling. "Chat with Les" is a column that is designed to ask you, the reader, to pause and examine the finer points in the lives of those around us, such as Dr. Roshdy: doctorate degree holder, mother, humanitarian and author."
First published by Call Me Les on Vocal Media February 8, 2022. If you're unfamiliar with my work, consider reading my Vocal Spotlight.
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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Original narrative & well developed characters
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions