Getting Past Performance Activism as a Young Adult.

As I swipe through my Instagram stories on a cool spring day, I notice that @chnge posted something that was blurred out and said graphic content. Curious, I further investigated by clicking through each and every warning confirming that I would like to see the post. Obviously if it is this hard to get to, it is important, I told myself. A little emaciated body curled up in a ball, alive, barely. My eyes started twitching and tears began to fall down my cheeks as I read the post. These were pictures of poverty-stricken children in Yemen who had a crumb of food per day – if they were lucky. The comments on the post varied, some were asking how to help and where to donate, but unfortunately some others were cruel saying things along the lines of “it is not my problem” or “wow how could their parents let it get this bad”. My whole body was enraged, and all my blood went to my head as if steam were rising from the top. I wondered how people could be so ignorant, so I went on reposting it. Little did I realize that I had just committed performance activism. It was not intentional, but I read something that made me upset – reposted it – and then went about my day as if nothing happened. I had never heard the term “Wicked Problem” before enrolling in this class. I knew world hunger was a problem but now I know it qualifies as a Wicked Problem. In the past when I saw a problem that in size is wildly bigger than myself – like world hunger – I have often wanted to give up. It was not until this class that I realized how shitty of me it is to go reposting things but not actually do anything or work towards fixing them. I felt like a fraud. Ever since that extremely harsh wake-up call, I realized something needed to change. In order for me to recognize problems I need to physically allow myself to take the time to process them so that way I do not push them under the carpet until the next disaster happens. I have been trying to work my way into meditation for the last several years through therapy to help process my own trauma. I have a workbook at home of diverse types of meditation and where / when I can do them. While we have been meditating in class, I have honestly struggled. Meditation is a very private thing for me that makes me feel vulnerable and bare. My fear of meditating in class is that I would grow emotional, and I am far too scared to express my feelings like that in front of our class. However, I think that using my meditation binder to help process Wicked Problems, the same way I processed trauma would not be a bad idea. Focused meditation is one of the easiest ways for me to practice my meditation because it gives me something to do with my hands. I am a naturally anxious person + have a raging caffeine addiction so it best for me to keep my hands busy, rather than just keeping them clasped in my lap. While practicing focused meditation I have been able to allow my body and mind to fully grasp the concept of my physical-self letting go and fully allow my spiritual- self come over me to help understand what is actually happening. My second favorite type of meditation to practice is called Progressive Relaxation. I have always been someone who feels like they need to put the weight of the world on their shoulders, I blame every terrible thing – big or small – on myself. Progressive Relaxation helped me forgive myself and accept a lot of the trauma that has happened to me while also acknowledging that it was not my fault. I hope to practice Progressive Relaxation in relation to this class more often because that way if something is negative, my body will be able to process it better and work through it healthily to help find a solution. Next, I would like to circle back to how I have reacted to Wicked Problems in the past and how I will ideally react to them in the future. There is a funny quote by a podcaster, BriannaChickenFry, that says “Nothing matters. We are literally on a floating rock.” and that used to be my mentality. Careless. Messy. Selfish. Going to college made me realize how self-absorbed I was, which was a hard pill to swallow: How can people who hate themselves be self-absorbed? That was also a big conversation in therapy. My biggest response to Wicked Problems in the past would have been compassionate but also would have come and gone within a blink of an eye. Though this class is not over, I feel as if my perspective has been changed and I have grown so much. It has taught me that it is ok to not have the same opinions as everyone else BECAUSE I have not been in the same position as everyone else. What is most important is being able to hear one another out and work together to understand one another’s point of view. For example, I was a huge consumer in fast fashion and definitely had a careless perspective because it did not hit me negatively close to home but then at the same time would post things about climate change which was extremely hypocritical. No wonder no one took me seriously, I was a huge player in the performance activism game, and it honestly makes my stomach churn just thinking about it. Right now, I think the biggest thing I need to work on is how I spread the word about Wicked Problems to everyone else without making it look like I have a savior complex. Thanks to this class I can have actual meaningful conversations with my brother, who is a natural resource management major, without feeling disgusted about myself after. I feel like I have grown in the blink of an eye and hope to grow even more beyond this course. 

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