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Is This What I Should Be Doing?

As we’re all living during this pandemic I’m asking myself questions and shifting between emotions. Simply put: Am I doing the right thing? Is this what I should be doing?

If I had to use a word to describe what it’s like to be going through this? I suppose the word surreal would fit. I’m not sure but let’s go with that. Hell I didn’t even know what to write let alone if I should write anything.

Since we’ve all been asked to implement social distancing, follow CDC updates, follow the news, while having fears crashing like waves during high tide.

Much like you all, I’m sure you’ve asked yourself:

What is important? Whom is important to me?

How can I ease anxieties? How helpless am I?

My emotions and thoughts are in the spin cycle. Yay!

Work, my employer tells me and my coworkers are essential. We certainly, would beg to differ. I work in an office and help with services that would not impact people’s lives and health were it to stop. Sure there’s a few of us to maintain safety and distance…but the risk of infection is possibly there.

I, like many others don’t really have the option to work from home. That privilege is not really a thing for most Black and Brown folks. Also, I’m in no position to not receive an income. Wait…have they frozen rent yet? Nah? Well again, haha no choice. I still gotta help my family with income.

I feel some tension, stress, and a tiny bit of dread because I have to go to work. At times I see the proverbial sword floating above my head. Will it or won’t it drop? Yet, here I am in the office, I have to earn this paycheck.

As I think about work I find myself shifting between the emotions of anger, sadness, and guilt. I’m because marginalized folks make us many essential (real essential) workers Black & Brown and other people of color. Should I let my anger boil? When society really had us think high end jobs are key to society?

Tell me, how functional are we as a society without our folks that work in groceries stores, food services, provide health care, mail, and etc? Time is proving they are far more necessary then these CEOs and executives. They are merely wealth hoarding managers. This wealth would be better spent raising the pay rate of front line workers. Of course, if you object to that…you’re utterly delusional. Society would crumble without the people whom we’ve been been inundated to look down upon. —Don’t forget, eat the rich

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I feel because these very people are out there in the midst of all of this. They don’t have the luxury of being able to stay away. Food service folks are dealing with people whom are high strung and on edge. Health care workers are being deified instead of their wages being raised. Reports have been quite dire, so whom is taking care of our caretakers?

The that I feel? Knowing that I’m still safer than real essential workers. They are dealing with the general populous and exposing themselves to risk. Meanwhile, I complain that I’m not working from home. If things were different would I be working in danger too? I feel further guilty that I have a full time job where 22 millions of people reported for unemployment — as of now.

Rugged individualism has drilled into our heads: to hell with everyone, look out for yourself. Talks of feeling sad is “OK“ but expressing this guilt will be meet with “no that’s weird”. Should I be feeling guilty? It’s every person from themselves…right? The answer is absolutely because I’m not some heartless bastard inundated with America’s crap. A crisis is no reason to ignore the humanity of others. Of course, it depends on what you can do, if you’re in position.

Another part of this is equation as it were, is my place with economics during this period. Should I care to the degree the media reports? Our economics look quite bad and some speak as if that’s more dire than our health concerns — what? Let me be frank, I care nothing for our stock market looking bad, spending being low, and bail outs for billion dollar industries.

I’m only concerned for the jobs lost and people affected. Also, is it not concerning that billion dollar businesses/industries needed help? What about smaller businesses? Their the most vulnerable during all of this? I think most can attest to the impact they’ve had to their respective communities.

To help the economy and people, we have stimulus checks. However this 1200 check is a joke. Canada gave citizens more for comparison. This number depending on where someone lives could or couldn’t cover rent. Did you know the US suffers from considerable affordability issues? — My anger gives way to sadness and cycles again.

I am however conflicted because businesses still need to survive for us to survive. Our bills seemingly won’t stop. After all, this is America. This country doesn’t give a damn if you’re facing death and or homelessness. You still going to pay these bills come hell or high water.

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Yes, we need the economy to be fine, personally speaking I wouldn’t see an income coming to me as with my side job as a writer. It’s not much but it’s something in the grand scheme of things. Still, aside from myself I worry for others. I’ve seen people lose work because the economy took a hit. Websites no longer able to pay freelancers, magazines/publications may not be able to stay afloat, folks getting furloughed, and etc. It sucks

My feelings get further complicated on the economy in relation to the job market. Prior to the virus, I had intended to pursue full-time writing positions. This was to be my year to enter into a new career field. Of course now, how likely or when that will happen? I don’t know. If and or when we return to a stronger economy, what is the likelihood I could find work? Competition has always been on my mind versus others with more experience and connections — getting a job has always been a rat race.

Whom is an employer more likely to hire? Enthusiasm and a steady body of work alone won’t help me. After all, I’m just a Black guy from the South that writes about marginalized issues because I care, I’m angry, and utterly both! How attractive is that in a career field where I’m still underrepresented? I’m already fully aware of the gatekeeping involved with journalism and entertainment writing. Eventually, everyone will be vying for the same work. This sounds self defeating but I’ll probably have better luck hitting the lottery.

I shouldn't be thinking about this right? It’s right there on the edge of my consciousness, I can’t really stop thinking about it. I haven’t shared these particular thought out loud anywhere. I look and sound like a selfish asshole, I know I do. Am I too not entitled to have a shot? Will I ever? Am not just kidding myself? Again, there isn’t space for everyone, only the select few.

The is me venting but shouldn’t I feel angry that my career prospects are nonexistent? Should I not be focused on the fact I need to survive this pandemic? Should I not be grateful that I have full time work? When so many don’t? Again, I don’t know what to feel. I still feel anger that forces outside of my control determined my fate. Should I not be OK with the fact I can still pitch are article here or there and write an article? I don’t know. Maybe I’m better off trying to hit the lottery after all.

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Of all the subjects and realities we have to address, health has to be the heaviest. This virus is a problem to everyone and everyday is a reminder of this. I keep myself informed enough to know were we are daily. I try to not get into the weeds but I’m something of a journalist too. I find myself stopping short of being in a whirlpool of rage and fatigue.

The loss of life, the danger in which our health care workers face, and the disparities being ignored. On the base level, we need information to take precaution to survive. On the other hand, this has been so unreal in regards to morality I can’t find the right words for it. Scared? Helpless? I don’t have the word yet.

I supposed these questions don’t matter. We’re starting to get data about the most marginalized among us. I feel sad because of the health disparities Black and Brown people face here in America. We are at greater risk because of systemic and environmental racism — surprise, surprise whose fault is that?. Most of us are essentially workers, have pre-existing conditions, and generally don’t get the same level of care as white folks.

I really hope we learn how this is affecting all marginalized communities quickly. The majority was really coming at this problem the wrong way. This is no great equalizer of any kind. Thinking otherwise at first was the work of white sensibilities that often ignore the real world. As far as the US goes…this will prey upon those of us disadvantaged by society: disabled, LGBTQ, and non white communities. It took multiple stories for hard hit areas for the national news to get it.

It doesn’t end there, what of our prisons? Do you know how dangerous it is for people? I suppose we shouldn’t care, society tells us we shouldn’t care for prisoners. Even though despite their crimes, they are human and deserve to not be subjected to deadly virus.

When and will we largely acknowledge their humanity? If at all? When you think about the statistics of whom normally fills prisons…how likely is society to do that?

When the I think of these problems that are prevalent with us that silent smoldering rage comes back. Now, with our health inequalities laid bare, I can’t really pretend things will be fine. I have to settle to lie to myself on some level. I can’t operate at full rage or sadness. The mental toll that would take isn’t something I can face right now…but I will in time.

Even if I tried to ignore the health realities of what’s happening, that would be a practice in futility. My mother is at home health care worker — For the sake of her own self preservation she’s decided to not work — So I’d know very well about the racial vulnerabilities we have and others as well.

To see years of compounded inequalities against us just play out during these very trying times…is a lot. Still, I can’t imagine what it’s like for people in areas and cities that have been the hardest hit. This is where more guilt and profuse sadness because again, how long have we screamed about these issues? How long have we provided facts for our most endangered. I return to sadness as this was ignored.

As things progress I can’t help but think (again) why don’t we all have free insurance again? As I think about how hospitals and health care workers and doctors are in great need of help…I get scared. My fear gives way to slight depression. Whom is here for these individuals are they stretch themselves thin? I hope society provides them the support they deserve. I have to try to not worry too much. — a futile practice

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Photo by Karabo Lengwadi from Pexels

Politically, I have to say this has been aggravating. This incompetent presidency has put us all in more danger than we should’ve been. A rational, and logical leadership wouldn’t have closed our department of pandemics to fund an unnecessary resource. Also having a leader actively share information that has countered medical officials to the public is irresponsible.

This avatar of irresponsibility (among other things) could’ve done his job correctly. Remember when the world was concerned, we were told that there was no threat. Now, the US has the most deaths related to this virus. Sure, no country could’ve properly prepared for this. I still feel a seething rage towards our leaders. They had early warnings and look where we are.

States need more federal aid to help its health care workers and provided them equipment. States find themselves in need of help and the federal government not being forth right. Our presidential administration would rather speak of when we can return to “normalcy”. That’s insulting considering that the last thing we should be thinking about. Who gives a damn about the economy when we have no vaccine? I can and will weather whatever isolation I must to live. — Because. I. Want. To. Live

This is a powder keg of emotions because if they can't do enough or seemingly enough, we’ll all hear that slow creep of death. Where is our federal shutdown of all states? Why is funding being stopped to the WHO?! Does that sound like the actions of someone that wants most people to live? I feel the sword above my head inch closer due to this president.

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Personally…how am I personally? I don’t know how to answer that honestly. During all of this I suppose I can say that I’m functional (said that at the start)? In my mind, I’ve told myself act as if you’re living through a week in between holidays. My overthinking doesn’t seem as profuse that way — yes I know this piece proves otherwise. Everyday, I jog to keep my anxiety low and my mind clear on my responsibilities.

I’m staying with my family (just 3 of us), which isn’t all that great. I’m something of a jerk and we occasionally argue over small things. I guess this is a sign that we care and worry about each other. I have routine that helps me stay busy and focused. Or at least I try I suppose. I too have a vast resource of media consumption but how far can that go for me? I might get tired

On a more important note, I’m able to stay in touch with friends. Being able to chat, call, and message people has helped my mood. I suppose it would be more accurate to say it helps my anxiety, as I know my friends and mutuals are doing OK. Just being able to check on someone and others is good for the spirit. Check on your peoples it’s great. I miss those times of hanging out with my friends literally doing nothing but talk.

An unforeseen thing has been, I’m finding myself build a relationship. I very much would like to make sure we stay together. Its odd there’s a pandemic and we’re not sure how exactly how to proceed. Then again, there’s no rule book or instructions on this kind of thing. We talk nearly everyday just to see how and what we’re. I haven’t been in what I would call a romantic relationship in years. I’m both terrified and excited — mostly terrified,

I wouldn’t be lying in saying that this person hasn’t been a highlight of the year. Hearing their voice and see their face as I proceed to be a clown helps my mood immensely. When this is all over, I intend to spend time with them and tell the world to leave us alone. I’m pretty sure they feel the same…hopefully.

I certainly want to see where this bonding goes during this weird place in time. I’m sure in time, things will be fine. I’m hopeful and sure we’ll get past this for better. If you see me writing random lovely dovey poetry that’ll be a good sign?

All these emotions, and thoughts certainly weigh on me, I won’t lie. However thoughts off existential threats aren’t new to me. I lived as a Black person in America in for 34 years. The threat now is different and the multifaceted injustices of society are right in everyone’s faces. I’ll be OK. Because to the best of my abilities, is going to endanger myself or those whom I care for. I can and will wait until the world is safe, because I want to live well into old age.

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Photo by Ato Anthony on Unsplash

I’ve learned to function with anxieties, I mean I’ve had to — again Black man living in America. I’ve learned to just hang in there, use what privileges I have and just survive as best I can. The script isn’t really all that different when you think about it. Ultimately, all I can do is stick to my plan. Perhaps that’s the best any of us can do at this time.

Being performatively positive, at work, on social media, and etc is draining. I’m not here to stress people. But at the same time it’s not sunshine and rainbows. To always act like things are fine feels insulting to the reality of the world. It’s true that the maelstrom of my emotions and thoughts scare me. I’ll be seeking tele-therapy for help if I can. If my employer insurance wants us to be mentally well, I might as well use the resources.

Something else I didn’t realize would change as I over-analyzed things; my outlook on my work. I’m going to dedicate myself to being completely unapologetic and truthful in my writing — life’s too short to walk on eggshells.

Anyway, I’m getting long winded here. For the sake of my sanity and responsibility to others, I’m going to tweak my routines. I’ll be doing better to share donations and drives to support our most at risk folks. I’ll also write more about my thoughts on the state of things. I think that’s what I should be doing? I don’t know, maybe?

All I can do is make sure I’m fine physically, mentally and financially. Help my mom throughout this as best I can. Make sure I can share some good vibes with people when I honestly can. I also have an obligation to make sure I’m laying the foundations for a long term and healthy relationship. This of course means constant and earnest communication. If that means I gotta ignore some people during this? Hell, so god damn be it.

Oh, I know the word to describe how I’m feeling during all of this, it’s displaced. I have to remain that way to be able to function through this, I guess.

Written by

I bat for PoCs, marginalized, equality, inclusion & geekdom. I'm warming the bench until coach subs me in. https://linktr.ee/jeffreyrousseau

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