The Struggle of Fine
"No one fucking tells you what to do if a pandemic karate kicks the door in like the goddamn Kool-Aid man."
Where do we go from here?
It’s not just a line from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical (🖕🖕🖕 Joss Whedon btw) but a phrase ricocheting off the inner walls of my skull for the past year.
Everything is one step forward, two steps back. Numbers go down, numbers go up. Inside, outside, back, and forth. Hard stop. Repeat.
Trying to fit your past life into this new one is a herculean chore. I am not motivated by anything I did a year ago.
In the before times, I went to work, I did my job, I rarely asked for more. I thought about the future, and where I would be five years. Thought about potentially buying a house. Things felt tangible. I wasn’t particularly happy, but I was happy coasting.
Now, I have no idea what the future holds.
When massive global events occur, it’s hard to comprehend the scale of it all. It makes you rethink everything. We have it in our brains that if we live a certain way, certain things will happen. If you finish school with high grades, you’ll get a good job. If you get a good job, you can buy a house and support a family. It is a neat, tidy, and privileged way of existing.
No one fucking tells you what to do if a pandemic karate kicks the door in like the goddamn Kool-Aid man.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably spent a significant amount of time sitting in your apartment, staring at your partner, asking “what do you want to do?”, despite knowing the answer to your question is, “I don’t know.”
"I don’t know" has been my theme of the year.
Before the world shut down, I thought I knew what I was doing. I worked in advertising (still do), and figured I’d do that until I died (I’m a millennial I don’t get to retire). Advertising paid my bills, I got to pretend to be creative, it was FINE.
EVERYTHING WAS FINE.
Was I happy? No.
BUT IT WAS FINE.
Nothing will get you to evaluate your life faster than a global pandemic.
Suddenly, that “fine” baseline, that world of comforting mediocrity I’d created for myself was gone and I swung into full on holy-fucking-shit-what-am-I-going-to-do country.
Mental health has been a struggle for me, pretty much forever. I go through ebbs and flows where my depression and anxiety are manageable, and then they’re not. This past year I have remained almost entirely in the not category. Which is ironically what scared me most when I was FINE.
Being in the not category did weirdly have some benefits. It took me out of my comfort zone and got me to look at my life objectively. It proved being in the not category wasn’t something to be scared of and pretending to be fine does absolutely nothing but suppress your emotions.
Being FINE prevented me from knowing what truly made me happy. It turned the things I enjoyed into coping mechanisms and numbed everything to a point where I no longer got any joy out of it.
This pandemic taught me so much about my own resilience and the resilience of people around me. It shined a light on things in our society that we should be proud of, and things we need to fight against. It showed me the future can change in a second and I can’t control that. No one can.
Where I am, we’re still in lockdown. Not much has changed, and in some cases, things have gotten much worse. What has changed is my response.
Hobbies and things I left to the wayside due to being “too busy” in my previous life have come back like childhood friends. I’m writing and reading again. I try to learn something new every day and take a moment to express gratitude and joy for the good things in life.
Looking at the positive can be difficult and even feel cheesy at times. I spent my entire life training for the “I Don’t Care Olympics of Cynicism” and changing teams at this point occasionally flares up my imposter syndrome. This isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.
FINE is no longer an option for me. Life is too short for that shit. From here on out, I strive to be as happy as this pooch with a hot dog.