Who Are You Talking to?

In the wake of the election, America is really polarized. They were polarized before, but now there is a record of how polarized we are.

People voted, and it was recorded that we don’t agree. And it’s tough. Although I love social media, the algorithms have left us mostly hanging out with people that agree with each other.

And now, incontrovertibly, a lot of people don’t agree.

I’m watching people try to come to terms with the election. I am hearing a lot of fear and anger. And people trying to understand each other.

I am reminded of a time when I was in a hostile work environment. It felt like everyone was against me, and I didn’t know whom to trust.

Months went by as I tried to understand what to do. And I also would go over in my mind what was happening, and I would try to understand why my coworkers were so against me.

I caught myself having imaginary conversations with each of them, explaining myself. And then they would have counter arguments, which I would then refute.

My mind was completely occupied with these mental conversations. It was not pleasant. I found myself sinking deeper and deeper into helpless despair.

The point of all those imaginary conversations was to try to find a way to make it better. I started them with the idea that I could understand what my persecutors were thinking and perhaps I would be able to change something in my control and resolve it.

But I didn’t stop when it didn’t work. It wasn’t clear to me that this preoccupation had become the problem.

Until it did.

I forced myself to stop. Never ever have a conversation with someone who is not in the room.

STOP.

It was not easy. It had become an ingrained habit.

In order to stop, I have to fill my mind with something else. Whatsoever is good, think on it. I was working on finishing The Russian American School of Tomorrow. My mind was so preoccupied with all these imaginary conversations I wasn’t making much progress.

So, I decided that whenever I started to go down that rabbit hole, I would think of what needed to be done next in my story.

I was not eloquent as a ground the gears of my mind in a reverse direction. I did not come up with beautiful metaphors or tense plot pivots.

I recorded my own voice into my phone; “The next part is the part where I don’t know what to do next.” I repeated what came before and what I thought might be good to put into that section.

Then I listened to my recorded voice, considered what I’d said. Then I would record over that and do another version with a few improvements.

I would then take those recordings and type them into a MS word Document. Tedious. Uninspired. But NOT obsessing about imaginary conversations. I pulled myself, completely resistant and incapable of anything, into making progress on what really mattered to me.

So what does this have to do with the election?

I find myself having imaginary conversations with people about the results of the election.

And I remembered–that’s never a good idea.

I thought I could share with you all my experiences. Spinning brain cycles on non-productive trains of thought is very seductive. But is makes me unhappy. And I want to make progress on what’s actually important to me.

I want that for you too.