Two Thursdays ago, I entered my afternoon class– the last one of my school week– feeling eager to dive into my weekend. I watched an hour of the Kavanaugh-Ford hearing and walked out feeling agitated, unsettled, and indescribably numb.

I always joke about how I am unable to “feel anger” and that I have been graced with the instinctive ability to “let things go” almost instantly. I laugh at the prospect of actively holding onto grudges and feel physically ill when confronted by conflict. Though I am often unaware of my own deep-rooted emotion, I pick up on the energies of those around me almost effortlessly. I often claim– half-jokingly– that I feel others’ emotions deeper than my own.

In a world where the proverbial leader of our supposed progressive country reports live from a media platform constricted by a 400-character limit, I often wonder how– or if– change is possible.

“It’s a scary time for young men in America,” he asserted, several days after questioning the timing of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation. There emerged the outpouring of support for Dr. Ford along with a complementary movement to #MeToo, propelled on social media platforms by the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport.

After watching women recall memories of sexual harassment and assault and share them in their own handwriting on the #WhyIDidntReport posters that flank subway station columns and park benches across NYC, Trump’s words enraged me. After sitting in class and listening to Dr. Ford tell her story, I find it hard to be neutral towards anyone who accepts and agrees with the president’s statements and those like it.

How can we craft a culture of distrust around women who have been physically and emotionally violated? Are the experiences of women meant to be discounted when their perpetrators are too “important”? What if these women are our daughters, mothers, sisters? They are– but what does that really mean to us?

We tell our children to speak up if someone hurts them; remind them that their allies are parents, babysitters, teachers, police officers, and school social workers. We teach them to trust institutions and the law. And when they grow up...we question their experiences and disregard their stories? Truthfully, that is what it seems like to me. This truth is hard to swallow.

In this time of extreme political polarity, it can often seem as if we pour our outrage into a vessel alongside only those who agree with us. This “liberal echo chamber” that many of us scream into seems entirely disconnected from that of the “conservative” population. Are we talking to each other, exchanging ideas and crafting an intelligent, understanding dialogue? I think not. Screaming into a void is frustrating, and this polarization that defines our political discourse can be paralyzing.

I feel heavier these days. But I know I am not alone in this feeling, as people from my therapist, to my mother, to my closest college friends have expressed that they feel the same way. I walk slower, I listen harder, and I check in with my friends more often. I want them to know that if no one else, I believe them and I care for them.

This past week, Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as the 114th Supreme Court Justice of the United States. What now?

I’m not sure, and my intention in writing this piece was not to pose some fix-all solution that would mend the deep tears in the fabric of our country. If nothing else, this piece is a reflection, outlines the increasingly muddled thoughts of one young woman who is puzzled, confused, and frustrated. It is my personal attempt to curtail my own numbness through writing.

If you read this far, thank you. I urge you to continue– or begin– to be loud, resilient, active, and unapologetic. To listen, to read, and to vote. To seek help if you need it. These are my goals, and I hope you will align yourself with at least one of them.

Olivia SotirchosComment