- It put stress on my relationships.
It wasn’t because I was the good guy and they were the bad guy in some Marvel comic book scenario, but because my overwhelming vigor to thrash my way down the war path toward social justice was changing me as a person. The interactions I was having with people I didn’t care for, loved dearly, and barely knew were engulfed by the politics of the nation and the world and not in a good way. I was a source of stress for people I only sought happiness for.
- My outlook changed, for the worse.
My drive to confront those who I disagreed with was turning my once pro-love, peace-above-all outlook into a driving force of negativity to be reckoned with. I was disgusted with people around me that I had once respected and loved. I looked for fights. I searched for confrontation. I strived to make a point to every last one of those closed minded, equality-hating sonsabi- You get my point.
- There were physical repercussions.
None of the point making, debate leading, or fact-checking was making me feel good about myself or my actions. I have no positive reflection of what all my political interactions were doing and it had started to weigh on me. My naturally anxious state increased. Things I enjoyed before, such as educating myself, reading articles, and expressing my opinion had become the foundation for a very stressful online presence. I dreaded checking my Instagram, my Facebook, my Twitter but still, like many of you, felt compelled to nonetheless. It was a cycle that was harming my mental well-being and I had to do something about it.
- I was isolating myself.
As someone with thousands of miles between me and my closest family member, the emotional distance it created was almost too much to bear. Growing up in a Conservative, Republican family was hard enough as an alternative, naturalist, LGBTQ+ member of society. At first, it all started as harmless discussion between people I respected in all senses. Resentment only began to grow after I left to move across the country. Online interactions became our only interactions, then our only interactions became bad ones. We disagreed and then we argued and then we fought and things started to fall apart. My best friend, my hero, my father, toed the line of severing our relationship entirely and even then, I didn’t feel like I could stop. I felt abandoned and disrespected and that pushed me further away even though I knew his opinion would not be swayed by mere conversation.
- I was letting strangers dictate my life.
So often, when I felt exhausted or anxious, I would read something about the privilege I was exploiting. Every turn I would take to apply better self care, I would be reminded that my silence was an offense to those who couldn’t make a difference due to social injustice. Guilt was knocking me to the ground and taking my lunch money. I was not, am not, in a position to make concrete steps towards any real change. I knew that my social media presence wasn’t making a difference, so why was I demonized for saving my breath and an amphitheater full of people screaming over one another?
- I wanted my life to be about positivity.
After all the conflict that had seeped into my everyday life, I made a decision. I chose to make it as easy as possible for myself to be happy. I wanted to have real conversations with my loved ones about things that matter to us. I wanted to be a fountain of happiness, not a storm of unconstructive negativity. I would not damage the lovely things in my life over things that I cannot change with simple words. I cannot educate the world with my reposts, reblogs, and retweets. I cannot change the mind of those I hold dear by berating them with walls of text. I can only cherish them and do what I can to make a difference when I can. I will enjoy my life and no amount of guilt will change that. I care. I care about all people, and that includes minorities and women and LGBTQ+ and Republicans and the 1%. I simply refuse to let that caring destroy me.