An Anxiety Exchange
Me: I think it’s going to be an okay day.
Anxiety: Yes, or it might not be.
Me: Why wouldn’t it be?
Anxiety: Because we are in a global pandemic.
Me: But I am grateful that I have a home and enough food and essentials. I think I am faring okay. I have my work and a good support group.
Anxiety: You mean the people who you never see?
Me: But I know they are there… if I called them.
Anxiety: Don’t bother them with your trivial problems.
Me: I didn’t say I was going to. What if we talk about fun things like our favorite movies?
Anxiety: Movies are fine but why aren’t you doing enough? Are you doing enough for social justice?
Me: I donated money to some causes that I care about.
Anxiety: Money is nice but you aren’t showing up.
Me: But you told me last week that I could get COVID from the crowds. You said that anyone could have a gun and shoot at peaceful protestors. You replayed cops shooting tear gas and rubber bullets. You showed me people in the ICU on ventilators.
Anxiety: That’s worth the struggle.
Me: Yesterday you didn’t want me to leave the house! You said that people would try to shoot me or attack me. You replayed the video of the Asian woman getting beat up. Or that other Asian woman, or the old man’s bruises on his face.
Anxiety: That could be you, if you live long enough to be an old Asian woman that is, if COVID or a bullet doesn’t get you.
Me: I want to help, I really do!
Anxiety: Then why aren’t you risking your life in the name of justice? You are complicit as the model minority.
Me: Model Minority is a myth. It pits minorities against each other in a method to uphold white supremacy.
Anxiety: If you believe that black lives matter, then go to a protest like the rest of them.
Me: Okay, fine I will go to a protest.
Anxiety: Great, I can’t wait for you to be singlehandedly responsible for killing your mom when you spread COVID to her. How selfish are you to risk other people’s lives for your glamour Instagram post?
Me: I didn’t intend to post on Instagram.
Anxiety: So you’re not an activist then? Cool to know that you are going to be silent on things that matter.
Friend: Hey Stacy, we are meeting up to go to a protest at noon, do you want to join us?
Anxiety: How are you going to get there? What if your car tires get slashed? What if you have to walk home? What if you get arrested? What if you contract COVID? What if someone shoots you down? What if you get separated from your friends? What if you get called out for being a phony? What if they don’t think you’re an ally? What if they find out all of the racist/homophobic/antisemitic/sexist thoughts that have every crossed your mind because you too are part of the system and you’ll never be able to recover?
Me (crying): Yeah! I don’t think I can today, please invite me next time.
Anxiety: You coward.
Author’s Note: For me, 2020 was the year of radical acceptance. In the way many of us experienced grief and loss this year, I must acknowledge the reality that is in front me. I had to tell myself that everyone’s pain and frustration is real. My grief is not a competition. I can be sad about cancelled plans, weddings, concerts, trips while also recognizing that more than 500,000 people and counting have lost their lives due to COVID. I can experience pleasures while still living with my anxieties. I can practice self-care and joy as an act of activism. I can call out the AAPI hate that exists in this country and also call out that Black Lives Matter. All of these things can and do exist in the same world. Each day has been a battle within myself to acknowledge life as it is and feel empowered to fight for the things that need to change.
At the end of the day, I want have the last word with myself.