Given the sobering events of last night and today, there has been so much talk, so many facts to process, such intense emotional fall out, it's hard to make heads and tails of things. We were all affected by bin Laden's death, whether you're happy, mad or indifferent about it. Tragedies stick with us. Everyone remembers where they were during the 1998 Embassy bombings, and of course September 11th. I was in 9th grade. I remember feeling scared and hopeless and yet—united. I felt an overwhelming sense of being "a part of." I had never felt something so strong; I had never so deeply felt that I, as an American, was one small part of a greater whole. I was connected to those on the TV screens, scrambling from dust-covered fire trucks, to those gasping for air between choking sobs in the streets, to the others, like me, permanently affixed to living room couches, trembling fingers bent over their mouths wet with tears.
While we all remember where we were during tragedies, we all respond differently. Just like today. There are feelings of triumphant joy, vindication, concern, anger, confusion, apathy, judgment and much more. All of these things floating around in the air above and among us, bumping in to one another. We have to see and hear and process these differing feelings. We may be angry, but we have to witness someone else's joy. We may feel vindication, but have to read about how all that bin Laden's death does is beget more hate and evil and destroy any glimmer of hope left for peace. We may be reminded of the sacrifice or the loss of a loved one, while someone goes on about how they don't see what the big deal is. It's unsettling. It's not easy to juggle along with all of your own feelings.
So many times throughout the day I found myself shaking in anger over a post, a comment or a news headline that I just couldn't comprehend. How could that be your response to this whole thing, I found myself asking over and over. How is that your solution to all of this? How misinformed, insensitive can you be?
It just kept hitting me over and over in waves. I would swallow my pride and gather my wits, and go about my day only to be totally derailed again 20 minutes later. I thought we were part of a whole, I thought. How can we both have experienced x, y and z and come out of it feeling so differently?
I'm not on point here, I don't have a crushing blow to dole out, some poignant statement to tie all of this together and prove that I'm right. I'm only here to say that I was smacked in the face with a harsh reality today: I care way too much what other people think. (David will laugh when he reads this because he tells me this at least 5 times a week.) But it's so true. And it's never hit me so hard. Why do you care, Lia? What do you gain from caring? What do you lose? If this is a close friend going through a hard time, THAT is a perfect time to care "too much." But not something like this. A differing of opinions. A misinformed person. An accusation from an enemy. An attack on your character, your President. Shake it off like a rainy afternoon that cancels your plans.
I spend so much time and energy carrying the worries and thoughts and fears of the people I am connected to. I let their words creep under my skin, and work their way up to my head where they blast on repeat over and over for hours, days. I am mentally editing their words, their actions—striking through self-proclaimed mistakes and scratching bold red lines through patches of words. What a waste of time. I can't change them, I can't change their minds.
Starting today I am going to start pulling the attached wires off, disconnecting myself from negative connections. There is positivity, inspiration, motivation out there waiting to be grasped. And I am am eager—my mind open, my hands outstretched—poised to take hold of the real meaning of life, and let the rest of it slip right down off of my skin. And whatever you feel about today, and everyday: Let yourself feel that way fully, without embarrassment or condemnation or concern. Don't feel like you have to explain yourself all the time. Just freely feel. Accept it, accept yourself, stand firm on your own two feet and you can't go wrong.