Is it presumptuous to say that everyone’s going to have an answer for where they were during the 2020 United States Election? Maybe. So, I have another question for you. It’s a question that’s more pointed and a little uncomfortable, especially if you hold certain privileges in the race, ethnicity, and wealth department. It’s a question that captures everything 2020 has tested the mettle of so far, and it’s this: If you got to vote, did you do so in the interest of progress for your community?
Earlier this year, I wrote about redistributing comforts and holding myself accountable when wanting to be selfish again. If you haven’t read them yet, bookmark them. For now, I’ll give you the tl;dr, which is: For a better world, we have to invest in the joy of others. An act that sounds so simple until you realize how much the pandemic, the very close elections, and racism have continuously taken away from us and others this year.
In the midst of media chaos, it can be dizzying to have to pivot to a new focus every day. Especially if you can’t afford to stop doomscrolling. So, maybe this will help. Here are five questions I regularly ask myself, to keep my spirit and efforts in check.
How much more time would I have for listening to others, if I prioritized my relationship with them first?
With the very close election results looming over my head, I found a lot of clarity in this piece about parasocial relationships by Kelly Yeo. It helped me understand not only why we hang our hopes on politicians and celebrities, but also when these relationships become so dangerous they override our ability to hold space for the real people in our lives.
If you suspect you might be in a parasocial relationship, Yeo gives us the lowdown on breaking up that one-sided love.
How can I directly contribute so that other people are free to experience joy too?
With Thanksgiving also being famous for a time of volunteering, it seems pertinent to do what I can to (safely) make sure that as many people as possible can eat. And since COVID-19 has taken that opportunity for connection away, especially for adults 65 years and older, maybe this is the year we can consider stepping in?
If you’re looking for a way to bring joy, this story by Kayla Stewart shares what food donation places need and how you can help out your local community.
Doing your COVID-19 prevention part:
While we look at recovery rates and lowering death rates, we still have a lot to learn about long haulers and the long-term symptoms that linger and confuse the body, no matter your age. If, for the sake of accidentally creating more long haulers, you’re not going anywhere this holiday (or because home is not comforting), that’s valid.
And even if you’re alone, you don’t have to feel lonely. We’ve got you. From food to party ideas, gifts and decorations, we can make sure the investing part is celebratory and literally for yourself.
How am I protecting my energy so that I don’t burn out from going through the motions?
There’s a lot of misunderstanding about boundaries. Indigo Sage clarifies their purpose in a tip-based article. The idea that boundaries keep us away from each other is a myth. Boundaries are like instructions for a garden, and it’s following those instructions, by listening, respecting, and complying to each other’s needs, that allows for people to grow.
Do yourself a favor and freshen up on your boundary knowledge.
What if I stopped looking for one person to meet my needs and built a network of relationships instead?
This essay, by JK Murphy, gave me a lot of hope. It was like peeking into my future as a relationship anarchist. I’ve only been practicing relationship anarchy for (almost) a year now, and let me tell you: Investing time in building multiple strong relationships (instead of finding the one) not only brings more security, it also expands my capacity for sharing joy. And when you’re going through difficult times, having so many fruitful relationships is like being loved in succession.
If the term relationship anarchy is new to you, then you must read this piece. If you need to deconstruct the concept of traditional relationships even further, I highly recommend Gabrielle Smith’s primer on unpacking the relationship escalator.
Am I motivated to make my own life larger — or am I hoping others have the opportunity to live large too?
In modern day tradition, I’d like to bring up the 21st century parable of our former relatable fave Jennifer Lawrence. People Magazine reported that Lawrence made headlines for formerly voting Republican due to the fiscal benefits she’d get. I’d also like to bring up CEO Dan Price. Inc Magazine reported that he famously cut his own salary so that all his employees could earn a minimum of $70,000.
Lawrence is probably doing well and good, but her choices back then only benefited her and people like her. The impact she had making lives better was minimal when it didn’t have to be. Price, on the other hand, who also cut his salary to $0 during COVID-19, has ensured the well-being of over 100 people and their families.
This comparison felt especially stark as I was refreshing the search term “election results” every day until Friday. With all the election anxiety going on, I felt desperate to find wins, and in the search, I realized that there are so many wins to celebrate. So many wins to motivate us to keep on fighting, no matter who the president is, for whichever year.
So to end this, in a metaphor that would make my mother proud, and in case you were skimming this: The moral of the story is to be more like Price, a person who has redistributed his comforts to make sure others can live, not just barely, but fully and joyfully.
Christal Yuen is a senior editor at Greatist, covering all things beauty and wellness. Find her musing about therapy on Twitter.