So you've been obsessively reading all the tweets about how Donald Trump is literally Hitler reborn. Your Facebook is nothing but memes and image macros saying Trump is going to throw us all into camps. By now, if you believe everything that you have picked up from the blogosphere and those well-sourced Medium.com articles, the government is about to come and stick a fracking site in your backyard. Throw in the hysteria that there are roving gangs of alt-Nazis out there burning and looting every queer-friendly feminist bookstore and it seems like we're about two weeks away from some sort of horrible club mashup of The Handmaid's Tale and Mad Max. You're probably terrified out of your mind, you're panicking, you've started freaking out and started buying those buckets of powdered food that Jim Bakker hocks on TV these days. Stop it, OK?
I remember when I was younger, about 10 or 11, and I first started questioning the nature of the universe. Not like "Why are we here?" or "What's the meaning of life?" type stuff but more like "How big is infinity?" or "If God created the universe, then who created God?" and "How long is forever?" I would lie in bed and try to wrap my head around these concepts, try to make sense of them and understand them, and I just couldn't. Some of the greatest philosophers, scientists, and theologians in human history have contemplated these very questions and been unable to answer them. My 10-year-old self had no greater luck, and the more I realized I couldn't answer these questions it began to terrify the crap out of me. Like full on panic attack levels of existential dread and fear. I would lie in bed and almost give myself a heart attack trying to cope with this kind of stuff. Then I learned to tell myself, Stop it. No matter how much I frightened myself about it, no matter how much I sat there in terror, it wouldn't change anything, and so I stopped worrying.
But I didn't stop thinking about these things. I still love learning about and discussing religion. I love science documentaries about space and the universe. Just when I begin to feel "the fear" setting in, I take a deep breath and say to myself Stop it, and I begin to calm down again. I go back to what I was doing and don't worry about it till the next time. I can't change the nature of the universe or instantly prove that God does or doesn't exist, so I just don't worry about it.
So quit freaking out about Trump. Now, I'm not saying stop worrying at all, lie down and accept whatever horrible things he's going to do or say. Don't give up and just let those hipster neo-Nazis have free rein (I heard a great term for them, "Nipzters") and take over. I'm saying quit freaking yourself out.
Humans only have so much emotional capital. We have to worry about our jobs, our families, our health, school, and a million other things. Things we have direct control over every day and play major roles in our lives and how happy we are. Put these things first and worry less about Trump and the other horrible things.
Look, many of you folks are young so you don't remember the police raids on gay bars. You don't remember the everyday dread of getting outed and losing everything. There was the constant fear of catching HIV. For those of us old enough to remember the Cold War, there was always the dread that someone would decide to nuke the planet. We would all die in a gigantic fireball if we were lucky, or end up rotting away from radiation sickness as we scavenged the ruins of human civilization for a can of creamed corn. These were things that people lived with every day in their lives -- that at any given moment it could all be destroyed, ruined, or you could die. Hell, a lot of people in this world still experience this -- from street violence to bombing raids to civilian slaughter in places like Syria. But they also still live their lives. They still make babies. They sing songs; they have birthday parties. They shop for groceries -- well, not in Syria -- and they wonder what color to paint the room. Yes, the doom and dread is still there, but they don't let it consume them.
So, yes, keep calling your legislators. Keep working in your community. Go to protests. Don't give up fighting back against this absolutely dreadful man and his cabinet of awful people. You just don't have to freak out about every tweet. Don't keep running off to safe spaces every time another news article talks about bigots doing something cruel. Stop spinning yourself up into tears for each and every horrible new thing in the news. You'll end up in a padded room so heavily medicated you'll be drooling on yourself. It's going to be a long four years till 2020; don't burn out by January.
AMANDA KERRI is a writer and comedian based in Oklahoma City. Follow her on Twitter @EternalKerri.