Recently, I’ve been ruminating on the angry sounds that defined the angst of my teenage existence. My fears were irrational. My goals wandered. The world outside of my high school cocoon revealed themselves to be confusing, contradictory, and dismal. Enter Alanis Morissette and the “Jagged Little Pill” album released in June 1995. And you ought to know that this right here, changed my world. Singing whiny white-girl music loudly and off key felt so right to this black girl. Sure, I hid these ‘protest’ songs from my black friends who rolled their eyes at such trivialness. However, I had finally found my lane. I was full of hormones, self-doubt, and smoldering rage and finally I found music that spoke to me. Sure the lyrics often didn’t chronicle much that would be considered true adversity and the lyrics to my favorite song “Ironic” weren’t examples of irony really but, I did not care. I was frustrated and confused and loud, and Alanis gave me license to feel a range of emotions that were usually dismissed by the adults in my life as impolite, ungrateful, and immature.
At the beginning of the year, I generally join the ranks of proper adults creating lists of lofty goals that I will painstakingly fail at before I even get started. The beginning months of 2022 my FB/IG scrolling will play host to friends, colleagues, and former classmates boasting about busting Q1 sales goals, adopting a vegan diet, and successfully snapping back to their pre—pregnancy weight after completing the NYC marathon and finishing Obama’s summer reading lists for the past 5 years. I will send out the obligatory ‘like’ thumbs up and roll my eyes. Usually these posts catch me in sweatpants, mid-spoon into a pint of Cherry Garcia watching Wheel of Fortune (and unable to solve the last three puzzles!). The eye roll is serious and the rage simmers. SHUT UP!
So as we round the corner on yet another year living in a pandemic, I can’t help but find myself gravitating to the music that defined my age of rage. Instead of setting unattainable goals, I’ve decided that goal setting for 2022 centers on survival. I will not be able to reach a carbon neutral lifestyle, the Calm app reminder to breathe will be set to silent, and reading celebrity gossip blogs will suffice as literary escapism. I will push back on the organic, chocolate-covered Astro turf wellness bars that I’m offered during meetings and instead pop Swedish fish and diet Coke savoring every moment of toxic bliss aspartame delivers.
Just like 1995 when the Unabomber manifesto was published, the OJ trial was in full swing, and The Million Man March was a cry for black humanity to be recognized as worthy, the reality of life outside of my sheltered home is scary, confusing, and entirely inconsistent. Thank you but no thank you. I do not want daily affirmations, gratitude reminders or water intake trackers. I much prefer the security of my weighted blanket, Casper pillow (huge shout out to Bloomberg!), and Google fiber wi-fi. And unlike years past, I feel no regret for consciously choosing this unambitious existence. The pandemic, racial reckoning, and the dismantling of democracy has exacted a toll so profound that no amount of electrolytes is going to restore my life to its original pre-pandemic dimensions. And truly it’s a good thing.
In spite of my embraced mediocrity, I must acknowledge that there are so many places in 2021 that I could have (should have) wised up. So my goal this year is to survive, yes, but also to finally accept that these folks knew better and I need to listen.
Good advice that I just didn’t take:
Polishing up my professional materials. As Clanitra suggested, updating the CV and resume was clearly the right thing to do. I will try again in 2022. Prospect of success is dubious but I will try. One thing is for sure, updating my CV as a means of taking stock of my accomplishments would have come in handy on the difficult days when I had convinced myself that I had no achievements (cue the Cherry Garcia).
Recognize the onset of burnout and practice self-care, as Olivia suggested. Self-care is more than bubble baths and Godiva, it’s also being gentle with yourself recognizing that the last 21 months have taken away loved ones, opportunities and more time trapped inside. For me, it’s also about recognizing that the people around me are dealing with their own pandemic brains and a bit of grace would go far here.
Giving is a sacrifice. Andre reminded us that Dr. Yvonne Chandler left a legacy of forged connections and ceaseless encouragement. I regret that I didn’t get a chance to spend extended time with Dr. Chandler but, I found our brief interactions full of the warmness that many of my colleagues describe. She was a treasure. And although I recognized quickly the awesomeness of her stature, I didn’t appreciate the lasting legacy she would imprint on so many lives.
This year of our Lord 2022 I pledge to celebrate the wins. In the end it’s the small wins that add up to a successful life.
Notes Between Us (NBU) is a blog about conversations and topics of interest to the writers. The writers are expressing their personal opinions solely. Their essays represent their personal beliefs and not that of their workplaces or any organization they are associated with.