Enjoying the simple things while also being aware

What you can do when it feels like the world is getting out of control

Anna Malesiewski, Features Editor

Last Friday, I was sitting in the nail salon, getting a fill on my acrylics.

It had been a pretty normal day – I attended my classes (maybe skipped one), went to the gym and planned on going to the wrestling match later that evening.

I started to get frustrated, because my nails were not turning out how I wanted them to, but I didn’t want to bring it up to my nail tech because I was pressed for time.

The smell of acetone was really strong in the salon, I realized I was uncomfortable in the outfit I was wearing and my ADHD was acting up and I didn’t want to sit there for much longer. I started to get even more frustrated.

So, to distract myself from all the things that were irritating me in that moment, I decided to actually pay attention to what was on the TV in the salon.

It was the 6 o’clock news, which on that particular channel was the global news segment that followed the local news.

I try to stay in the know and keep up with the news — I have to, as a journalist. But sometimes, it can be so draining and it can really take a toll on my mental health.

Well, that’s what happened to me in the nail salon that evening.

I was absolutely bombarded with images of the crisis in Ukraine, standoffs between citizens and police officers and cases of extreme weather that I knew could only be caused by climate change.

I started to feel sick.

I come from a small, mostly rural and conservative town. Many of the people I went to high school with are now in the military – that’s just how it is. I still keep in contact with a few of them regularly, and not only do I appreciate being able to maintain contact with them after graduation, but I also appreciate the reality checks they give me sometimes, whether intentional or not.

I started to think of them as I was watching the news – how one of my friends had to sleep on the ground in the cold for an entire week, or how another one of my friends literally has lives in his hands every day or how one of my friends has to expect that one day he might die in a conflict.

I started to feel sick because while all of these things are happening in our country and around the world, and because I have friends who do things on a daily basis that I can’t even imagine doing ever in my life, there I was, sitting in the nail salon, griping and complaining in my head because my nails didn’t look right.

Granted, it’s not a crime to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, like getting your nails done. But that day in the nail salon, I was reminded that those simple pleasures are not all there is.

I texted my family group chat – as I always do when anything even remotely significant happens in my day or in my life. I went on a rant about how frustrated I was with our country and our world and how I’m hesitant to ever bring children into a world that has so many issues.

But then, my dad said something to me that put things in perspective.

“Focus on what you can control and try to pay less mind to what you can’t,” he said.

That seems like pretty simple advice. But it really helped me in that moment.

I can’t resolve the crisis in the Ukraine, I can’t stop conflicts between citizens and police officers and I can’t even make a dent in reducing the carbon emissions caused by large corporations.

I can, however, vote for responsible leaders. I can make sure my mind is a nice place to be, even if the world outside is not. I can teach my future children to do the same.

This world we live in can be big and scary and frustrating and infuriating.

But to be honest, it always has been and probably always will be.

All I can do is remember what’s important – even if it takes the nail salon to remind me.


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