For as long as I can remember, I have been told how important it is for me to do shit like ‘accept what you can't change' and ‘go with the flow.' Embrace differences, listen to everyone's opinion, and try to be the change I want to be.
I'm coming away with one important thing to say from a lifetime of swallowing that bullshit: no..
You don't have to accept what you can't change. You don't have to go the flow. You don't have to keep toxic people in your life because they have the freedom of speech.
Part way through last year, I made the decision to dodge politics. I did so, with very few exceptions. (Being human, I make all sorts of mistakes, and the two or three discussions I had about politics since before November counted among them.) I had a couple of discussions about religion, and I mostly walked away feeling poorer for having participated.
It's okay to say no. It's okay to say enough is enough. It's okay to turn away from the negativity, the hatred, and the relentless forcing of opinions. I posted on my personal facebook how I was going to be avoiding it all, muting and potentially unfriending or unfollowing those who had nothing else to say in their lives. I'm not asking anyone to change on my behalf.
No, I'm being the change I want–and that means surrounding myself with better people–people who lift me up rather than drag me down. People who understand there is a difference between making a change in one's life for the better and hypocrisy. (Hint: Hypocrisy is when you claim you're going to make a change and you continue to do what you claim you're changing. Or, you know, when you say one thing and do the exact opposite thing.)
There is also a difference between hypocrisy and genuinely trying to change and failing at your attempts. I'm the kind of person who will get back up from failing and try, try, try again until I finally succeed. I fuck up. It happens. But I try to turn failures into success.
I have struggled to write for well over a week. Every word has been a challenge–mostly resulting in a whole lot of nothing getting done. All of this has been because of this relentless flood of negativity. It has caused me anxiety, as there is absolutely nothing I can do to stop that flow short of pulling the plug on these people who have nothing else to say. I value that it is important to them.
However, I value my sanity more.
Enough is enough. No.
No, I will not listen to your vitriol. No, I will not pick sides. No, I will not give you my time, my emotional health, nor will I give you the validation or argument you may desire. No, I will not defend you when someone gives an opinion you do not like. No, I will not participate.
I'm being the change I want. I want a place where I can go without the relentless flood of negativity drowning me. So, I'm getting rid of it. I'm laying down the sandbags, I'm plugging in the pumps, and I'm draining out the cesspool of hatred. I'd say it wasn't about you, but if you're one of those people who has had nothing else to say… it is about you.
I'm not sorry.
I'm not going to ask you to change. That's not fair to you. However, I'm disconnecting. I'm pulling the plug. I am searching for other types of people in my life, and you're not it–not on a personal level. I value each and every one of my readers. At the end of the day, I'd like you all to be happy.
But at the end of the day, I'd like me to be happy, too–and that means cutting the cord and surrounding myself with the type of people who encourage me to keep writing, who can go day by day without shoving their political or religious beliefs down my throat. I want to surround myself with people who have a positivity to them.
I want to be friends with people who talk about their lives, their favorite books, their cats, their dogs, that funny little thing that happened at work–I want to be friends with people who aren't encased in a prison of narrow thinking. Most of my life revolves around writing–so that's what I often talk about. Writing makes me happy. I want to talk about books, what makes us happy when we read, and things that piss us off. Hell, I want to argue about these books, too. Debate is fun. I enjoy it, especially when the debate is about literature.
I'm not sorry I will no longer surround myself with people who view their facebook (or other social media) as a platform for political engagement. I have lost some friends in the past few days. Some of them couldn't handle the idea I refused to cater to their toxicity. Some of them found my desire to disconnect from the political vitriol as a symptom I lack in intelligence. (Some of them even went as far as to suggest I have no way of learning about the government, new laws, etc, if I did not get my information from them.)
Newsflash: I know how to use google, and when I want to update myself on political affairs and global news, I will do so.
I have exactly one life to live. It could last seventy years. It could end tomorrow. I'm going to make the most of it I can. Being happy is a choice. Being miserable is also a choice. Fighting depression and anxiety like I often must is also a choice–a choice only I can make.
So, I am being the change I want to be, and I am surrounding myself with people who make me happy. I'm not sorry for that. While I will miss a few of the individuals who are not longer a part of my life due to circumstances and the choices we've both made, enough is enough.
To those of you this applies to, you are welcome to your opinion, but I will no longer allow you to shove it down my throat. My answer is no.
Thank you for reading.