There’s a sense of collective somberness these days. Thousands of miles away, there is a nation fighting for its homeland, with men taking arms and standing at the frontlines, their innocent children fleeing with their mothers and setting foot on strange lands. At home, we fight our own war, one against seemingly countless and gargantuan enemies. How does one ordinary person win against an army of trolls and generations of the corrupt? How could a nobody challenge the machineries of tyrants and historical revisionists? You see, these are questions I’ve been wrestling with recently.
There’s been a cloud of helplessness looming over my head, and as the days go by, it’s getting darker and darker. It’s a strange feeling going about my day while elsewhere there is chaos and suffering. As I write, there is a father parting with his daughter, or a mother starving for the sake of feeding her children, or the sick slowly dying, or a young life full of wonderful possibilities taken away too soon. I think about these and I question the point of living the way I live.
It’s almost the same feeling as when the pandemic began. I questioned my career decisions and contemplated how I could have and should have chosen a vocation that made direct, tangible, observable impact on others’ lives. I felt powerless and useless, unable to contribute to the actual work needed. Mostly unaffected professionally and financially due to the nature of my work, life went on for me. I felt shame. I resented myself and my privilege, and I knew I could only manage to feel this way because of that exact same privilege.
I felt and still feel conflicted. It’s not too late to change the way I live, but am I ready and willing to make the sacrifices that will go along with it? Can I leave behind people I love, put plans on hold indefinitely, and without regrets head into uncertainty? Or are all these even necessary to quiet my nagging thoughts and feel like I’m doing enough?
As the world continues spinning and wars keep on waging, here I am telling myself I can’t afford to feel helpless. No, it’s a losing stance. As ordinary as I am, I convince myself I am not a nobody and that this is not a fight for me alone but for countless people like me—us who are tired, frustrated, and hungry for real change.
As life goes on for most of us, myself included, I’ve resolved to try and look at today’s predicament with a less cynical and more pragmatic point of view: We must do what we need to do to survive, but that doesn’t mean we can’t fight the good fight. Perhaps, I should not be insisting on an all-or-nothing solution to my existential crisis. Maybe there is no need to choose, to abandon, to give up one thing for another.
I don’t mind the cloud looming over me. In fact, it should be there. It’s a reminder I don’t exist merely for myself, and that I never want to forget. But balance needs to be restored; I need to be more forgiving of myself and shake off the resentment I feel for being where I am today. This conundrum notwithstanding, I am in a really good place. I am happy, healthy, and loved, and I need to embrace this without any shame or guilt. The journey to here and now wasn’t without its pains, and while those pains may never compare to the suffering of others, I deserve to honor my wounds and celebrate my scars.