I’m trying to stay positive

CW: Discussions of hopelessness

I’ve been trying to stay positive recently, but it’s hard.

There’s really not much more I can say about COVID-19 or quarantining that hasn’t already been said before. We’re living in uncertain and unprecedented times, and the specifics of our collective suffering aren’t all that important anymore. Everyone is struggling, some much more than others, but we’ve all lost something: a job, a loved one, savings, health insurance, or even just a sense of normalcy. And it fucking sucks.

In the face of everything that’s been happening, I’m trying to stay positive. And while there is such a thing as toxic positivity, the flip side of it is being so overwhelmed by negativity that you can’t do anything. Even anger, in small doses, can motivate us to change something about our current situations. But hopelessness, that all-encompassing feeling that everything is bad and nothing is ever going to get better, doesn’t help anymore.

We need hope and positivity to thrive, we can’t just be content to survive. But like toilet paper, hope seems to be in short supply these days. I’m trying to stay positive, if not just for myself, then for all the people who can’t. Because we need hope now more than ever.

But everywhere I look, something new seems to be going wrong. For every good thing, there are three bad things, a cascade of falling dominoes that no one can stop. If it’s not the stress of the American Presidential election, or the threatened defunding of the USPS, it’s the lack of PPE and protections for healthcare and essential workers around the world, or further restrictions on abortion, while governments continue to roll back environmental protections. If it’s not that, it’s the declining mental health of my friends and family, or the fact that large corporations are making more money than ever while my favorite small businesses are already starting to shut down permanently. If it’s not one thing, it’s something else.

I don’t want to be a pessimist right now, but it’s really hard not to be. It’s been months since I’ve interacted with any of my friends in person. I’ve talked to a few of them virtually (which has been nice), but I can’t pretend like it’s the same, because it’s not. It’s not even close. I can’t pretend like everything is okay when the world feels like it’s burning around me and my own mental health getting worse every day.

I’ve been struggling a lot these past few weeks, letting sadness fester inside of me, and I don’t like it. Because I don’t want things to stay the way they are. They don’t need to go back to the way they were before exactly (nor should they), but they can’t stay like this.

I feel like I’m stuck in limbo. Days and texts are blending together at an alarming rate. I can’t remember anything and it feels like nothing I do is good enough. I’m trying to look on the bright side of things, no matter how obnoxious that seems, because apathy is way worse. It’s about finding balance between optimism and realism, acknowledging that this situation is shit for a lot of people, and helping whenever we can, without letting grief or sadness overpower us.

Isolating has forced me to reevaluate how I do just about everything. And while that can be panic inducing on a bad day (of which there have been many), on a good day, it has me planning better, reusing more, wanting less, and appreciating the things I do have, as well as acknowledging the things I really miss. But I also know I’m not coming out of this the same person I was before and that’s really scary.

But at the same time, no matter what our lives look like in a month or a year from now, there will always be good things waiting for us, if we can just remember to look for them: spontaneous hangouts, hugs, kisses, happy hour with friends, studying in a cafe, shopping, sex, cuddling, fancy dinners, warm brownies, going out for ice cream, holding your child or pet in your arms, love, kindness, holding hands, books, movies, inside jokes, stories, the beach, the sky…

Most of these things aren’t even really gone, they’re just look a little bit different right now.

It’s hard to reconcile those two things, though: acknowledging how bad our current situation really is and still being positive in spite of it. It feels like one of the most difficult things in the world right now.

But I’m trying to stay positive. I really am…

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