Exhaustion signifies that things are happening, around us and within us. How do we forge connections despite all of it?
Disclaimer: This opinion piece on forging connections at this time is a depiction of the writer’s own thoughts, experiences and observations of Halalan 2022 and in no way reflects the opinions of the publication on which it is shared, nor does it reflect the opinions of the publication’s parent company or fellow businesses.
I remember entering May with a hopeful outlook; something in my gut told me that this would be a good month. I guess that there really is something about your birthday month that gives it a glow of hope and excitement, even for a cynic like myself.
We’re halfway through the month of May, and I’m also a year older. So far, the word I find most fitting for this month is exhausting. The past two weeks have been an emotional rollercoaster; we’ve gone from experiencing hope in the electoral rallies, anxiety before the elections, and a mix of fear, grief and anger from election results. With all these feelings coming in full intensity, we’ve definitely had our fair share of emotional whiplash.
It’s been a new season for me as well, resulting in an overhaul from the changes in my life. With that and all the events racking up in our country, exhaustion is bound to get to me, and dare I say it has. I feel frustrated finding myself at such a low point. It took a friend to remind me that it is normal to feel exhausted.
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Step out of it for a while. Here’s a sobering reminder: it’s only been a week since the elections. If anything, it would be anomalous to feel fine with everything going on.
Why do we feel the pressure to recover as fast as possible? Why does exhaustion have such a negative connotation, so much so that it has to be avoided at all costs? Exhaustion is normal; it’s bound to happen when change happens. It signifies growth. It signifies passion. It signifies that things are happening, around us and within us.
Ceramic is a material that can withstand a wide range of temperatures. But when you pour ice cold water into a mug that’s just been filled with boiling water, it cracks.
What if slowing down also means taking our time to recover? Should we not apply the mantra slow and steady even in recovery?
A radical thought (as cliché as it sounds): acknowledge your grief. Acknowledge your exhaustion. Acknowledge that circumstances aren’t the best right now because perhaps they’re only about to get better. After all, papunta pa lang tayo sa exciting part (we’re only on our way to the exciting part).
I’m gonna expose myself here: my screen time on Election Day rose up to eight hours and thirteen minutes—so let me defend myself before you form your opinion. I know it’s not normal. Though I consider my typical screen exposure to be more than the average person, eight hours (only on my phone at that!) is a lot.
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Like every other person my age, I’ve fallen into the habit of doomscrolling; I’m not proud of it. Despite attempts to curb my bad habit (yes, I’ve read about Digital Minimalism), I’ve found my addiction to social media to be a tough opponent. I’ll be honest; among the reasons why I keep doing it is because it serves me. Especially during times like this, mindlessly tuning in to our endless feeds is like rubbing ice on a burn, keeping the mind distracted from reality. Except ice shouldn’t be used on a burn; though it provides temporary relief, pain is only amplified once it’s gone.
On a normal basis, I resort to doomscrolling only to find myself frazzled by the day’s end. Doomscrolling during the last few days brought on a different level of mental debilitation. Everyone in my social media circles (myself included) felt waves of grief, anger and fear. I resonated with the majority of online sentiment from my side of the internet, but instead of it feeling cathartic, I felt bombarded with all these intense emotions. I felt everything so deeply, and every post I empathize with continued to pour gas into the flame of my worn-out state.
After nearly two days of feeling like absolute shit, moping around the house, taking too many depression naps, expressing my sentiments online and stressing about my upcoming deadlines, I took a mini-social media detox in an attempt to pull myself together. It was my way of taking care of my mental health. The existing coping mechanisms I had only helped me get through the shock, but knowing myself, I knew it would harm me in the long run.
I spent the next few days busying myself: stress cleaning around the house, calling my friends, diving into my sea of deadlines (we love high functioning anxiety!). Instead of voicing out my emotions online, I spent a lot of time in solitude, which Cal Newport defines as having time alone with your thoughts, free from external output. It was easier to process and feel my feelings, and have reflections without the white noise of social media.
I slowly came back to social media in a more stable mental state four days prior, to the tune of Leni Robredo’s plans to form the Angat Buhay NGO. In defiance to all the bitterness and spite within me, I am reminded that life still goes on, and that we will keep fighting. This must be the essence of radikal na pagmamahal—love is radical because it is not easy.
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Take it from Leni: “Allow yourself to cry. But when you’re ready to wipe away your tears, prepare yourself, strengthen your heart, because we have work to do.” I’m reminded of my favorite scene from Haikyuu (thank you to @kodawari.ph for bringing this back to my memory):
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We need to feel grief in order to learn from it, and to move forward.
Though the future looks more uncertain than ever (at least for the next six years), I choose to cling to hope because of the Filipino people. Perhaps the most revolutionary change happens in the face of the toughest opposition. If anything, it’s only the beginning. This election season taught me how much the Filipinos can do, and things can only look up from here.
Words Gwyneth King
Art Macky Arquilla