Three evenings ago, our country experienced the largest mass shooting attack in history. In Las Vegas, Nevada, during a country music festival, someone opened fire on a crowd of concert goers. 59 people were killed and over 500 people were injured during the attack. On days like this, I find my anxiety levels are much higher than normal. Why? Because even though I didn’t know anyone involved personally, I could have. All 59 of those people killed and all 500+ people injured could’ve been my mother, my brother, my boyfriend, my best friend, that guy I passed in a gas station in 2001, that girl I smiled at on the train in 2008. Human life is invaluable. All of those people were someone to someone, and that, in itself, is heartbreaking.
The thought that you could be enjoying yourself one minute, and running in terror fighting for your life the next is absolutely terrifying. There are people out in the world who just want to do bad things and hurt other people. And I find myself thinking, “How am I supposed to trust the person standing next to me in line at the grocery store?” “How am I supposed to feel comfortable walking down the street?” “Why did this happen?” Why did this happen.
For some of us, hearing this news is debilitating. For some of us, we won’t leave our house for a week because we’re afraid. For some of us, we’ll sit on our couches, staring blankly at the television set with our eyes swollen and red from crying. Some of us will go donate blood, some of us will donate money to the victims, some of us will fight for gun control. Some of us will do something to help. Some of us can only physically and mentally help ourselves through this tragedy. All of which, is okay. We all will have to deal with grief and tragedy in our own ways. I encourage you to find the ways that work the best for you.
For me? I cried, I grieved for their families, their friends, themselves. I thought of how that could be anyone I know. I thought of how that could be me. I thought of how easily life can be taken and how fragile our bodies can be. I thought of the pain and the fear they must have felt. I was disappointed in the world. I didn’t want to get out of bed, I didn’t want to go to work, I wanted to shut out the world and pretend it didn’t exist that day. Sometimes my anxiety does that, and some days, I let it take over. And sometimes, that’s okay.
This day, I forced myself to get up. I went to work, I spoke with my friends and colleagues, I tuned in to my social media outlets, I let the world exist. And in that time, I saw that blood banks were turning people away because they had such an influx of donations. I saw that first responders were turning people away with their donations to help the victims. I saw my social media explode with prayers and thoughts for those involved. I saw people taking up monetary donations to help those affected. And you know what? My anxiety eased. Because I didn’t shut out the world, I was able to see people facing this tragedy responding with compassion. Responding and helping in any way that they could. And I realized I can’t let one person persuade my views on the world as a whole. Not all people are bad. Not everyone is out to hurt you.
There’s a quote from one of my favorite movies, The 10th Kingdom, that gets me through a lot of tough days.
“I often think, why did I let her in? Didn’t I know she was bad? And I did, of course I did, but I also knew that I couldn’t keep that door shut all my life, just because it was dangerous, just because there was a chance of getting hurt.”
On days like this, I have to remind myself of this quote. It helps give me the confidence and strength I need to push through my fear and my anxiety. It helps give me the strength to put my two feet on the floor and hop out of bed. It helps me face the day. It got me through yesterday. Maybe it will help you get through tomorrow.
Until next time,
The Anxious Flamingo.