Presidential Fears

[Content Note: violence, death, Trump]

I haven’t posted about the election, or much of anything, honestly, in the past few months. Part of that was feeling like everyone else was saying it so much better, and part of it was being busy with personal stuff, and part of it was just despair.

I knew he was going to get the electoral college votes. I knew there weren’t going to be any surprises. I hoped anyway, because it was the last hope I had.

I’m so terrified of what the world is going to look like in the coming days, weeks, months, and years. I haven’t been talking about politics in the last few weeks for several reasons, one being that I feel sick and anxious all the time. People will die. Some of them might be people I know.

I never realized before how deep-seated our society’s hatred of women is. What hope do I have, as a queer fat woman, if one of the most intelligent, qualified women on the planet couldn’t overcome her gender to defeat one of the most vile, least qualified men in history? What hope do any of us have? What hope do people of color have? What hope does our country have?

I’ve never liked post-apocalyptic fiction. It always felt too possible to me, people romanticizing the idea of a societal collapse that always felt too close for comfort. But even in the worst days we’ve had as a country, I never before really believed we could be destroyed as easily as I feel we could be now. I honestly wonder if there will even be a United States of America in four years. I fear for all the people who will die if our society does collapse, not just in possible military coups or bloody civil wars, but from malnutrition, lack of access to necessary medications, lack of working infrastructure. We already have those problems, and many of them will get exponentially worse.

I’m terrified for my nephew. He’s going to be a year old next month. I’m an adult, and a relatively healthy one. Barring nuclear war or random acts of violence, I’ll probably survive infrastructure collapse (and I have at least one skill that would make me able to emigrate). But elderly people and children are always the first to be severely impacted by such things. And even if he survives the physical hardships, what kind of world is he going to grow up in?

The assassination of a Russian ambassador earlier today gives us horrifying echos back to the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. Will we have WW3 this time next year? Will the world survive, when we have nuclear weapons? In 100 years, if the human race still exists, will they look back on this and scoff at how obvious it all was (as I’ve witnessed people do when learning about WW1 and WW2 both, the “how did they not know this was coming?” reaction is pretty common)?

I want to run away. I was already planning to move to Germany, so I might as well go ahead and do that (whether I have a job or not). But is anywhere safe? Would it be better for me to stay near my family, if only so I can help them when things go bad (and possibly be with them when we’re all vaporized)? Or would it be better to go somewhere else, where I could possibly help them travel to if things get even worse than that?

I’m only 31. I don’t want the world to end. I don’t want my home country to collapse. I don’t want any of this.

This is a nightmare I can’t wake up from, and I’m so, so afraid of what the future holds. I wonder if there’s even a future to worry about.

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Higher Education and Me

I had lunch with my aunt on Wednesday, and we talked about several things, but one that stuck in my mind was our discussion about education.
 
I’m pretty sure I never want to go back to school to get another degree. Although there were a lot of things I enjoyed about both my experiences in higher education, there was a whole lot that I found intensely stressful as well, and most of it had to do with how academia is set up.
 
I actually really love learning, as most people who know me are aware. As a child I loved watching History Channel and Animal Planet (back when they had actual history and actual animal footage, rather than the current lineups of reality show after reality show) because of what I learned. I love inserting random factoids into conversations, and talking about what interesting things I’ve learned recently.
 
What I don’t love is sitting in lectures, being assigned readings (especially for “required” classes that have little bearing on what I actually intend to do), and having to regurgitate information I barely absorbed for tests. I don’t like feeling like I’m under a microscope, or that my grade is resting on one final project, or dealing with professors who care too little about their students and too much about their egos. I don’t like how anxious and unhappy I feel all the time, how difficult it is for me to deal with my procrastination (which for some reason I’m usually much better able to handle when I’m being paid, I still haven’t figured that out yet), how often I feel like I’m letting people down by not doing my best work.
 
Again, I don’t want to imply that higher education is horrible and I hated it. But what I know is that I enjoy learning when there aren’t high stakes attached to it. I know that once I get settled with my career and living situation, I’m going to want to find a local college where I can audit classes as a “lifelong learner”, simply for the fun of it, to stay sharp by matching wits with young people who think they know everything (and may surprise me in my jaded old age with what they do know), to learn about subjects I have only minimal knowledge of currently, to improve my understanding of subjects I’m already fairly well-versed in. Some of my happiest memories from my time in undergrad were classes I took for fun, things I didn’t even really need to graduate and had nothing to do with my major, just things I found fascinating and wanted to know more about.
 
And I hate writing essays. Free-form writing like this, the kind of writing I can do for blog posts and social media, I love it. Essay writing is torture and I hate it. Even worse when I have to write essay questions on tests, when I almost always run out of time because I try to write too much or think too long before starting. Essays are evil and I hate them.
I have many friends who’ve chosen the academic life, and I have the utmost respect for them (they wouldn’t be my friends otherwise). Like teaching, it isn’t the life I want, I don’t enjoy it and I’m not good at it. I’m so thankful that there are smart, talented people who love it, because that means I’m free to choose another path.
Of course, I expect that I’ll take classes in the future, get certifications of various kinds (I definitely want to get my C1 in German, and eventually Japanese as well). But I don’t plan to have a “Dr.” in front of my last name. And for the foreseeable future, I don’t plan to go back to higher education. That isn’t where I want to be. That isn’t where my joy is.