Time to look at the silver lining

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Media: Christine Park

The cloud ahead of us is grim, but to spite the dark mass, I find it necessary to reach for the silver linings that are both large and small, inconsequential and momentous.

In a room full of pessimists, I am the first to say that the world is going to hell. Nowadays, I cannot believe I am alone in that assertion, especially among my Gen Z peers who also attend Emerson College.

The world is fraught with uncertainty at the moment, and those of us, who under normal circumstances hold rather downbeat views, are wallowing in what we could have never foretold: a devastating pandemic, a national reckoning with systemic racial injustices, a grossly inadequate president, and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression—you’ve heard it all before.

At the onset of the pandemic, my general despondency toward the future began to significantly affect my outlook on life. Days started to flip by like pages on a word-of-the-day calendar. I sincerely found it difficult to look too far into the future because of the impending doom that without a doubt laid ahead. There was nothing to work toward, no future to invest in.

I am not alone in this. 

Kim Parker and Ruth Igielnik write in a May 2020 PEW Research Center article that although Gen Zers are set to be the most educated generation in history, the outbreak of COVID-19 has altered a future that once looked uniquely prosperous. 

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“Unlike the Millennials—who came of age during the Great Recession—this new generation was in line to inherit a strong economy with record-low unemployment,” write Parker and Igielnik. “That has all changed now, as COVID-19 has reshaped the country’s social, political and economic landscape. Instead of looking ahead to a world of opportunities, Gen Z now peers into an uncertain future.”

The cloud ahead of us is grim, but to spite the dark mass, I find it necessary to reach for the silver linings that are both large and small, inconsequential and momentous. In the small creases between the blocks of time that are held stiffly in place by obligatory work shifts, compulsive bouts of news-reading, and classes, I resolved to find things that nurture optimism: a prescription I, and presumptively many pessimists and Gen Zers alike, desperately need.

My first saving grace is that summer is coming to a close. I imagine if you are a true cynic or are at least often cynical, you like or at least appreciate the color black. It is chic and goes with almost everything. You can count on it because it is very seldom fallible, but it absorbs heat. It is for this reason that Goth Girl Summer has never really come to fruition. Therefore, we can relish in the fact that the unbeatable heat will be coming to an end relatively soon.

On top of that, summer, specifically the one in question, is ruthless in its pursuit of unearthing the realities of climate change—perhaps a positive, if you look at it sideways. Record-breaking hot weather, an impressive fire tornado, and swarms of Californian earthquakes are shamelessly off-leash this season, each cracking its smoldering whip on modern civilization. Perhaps this will inspire a reckoning with the truth from climate change deniers, or trigger a greater sense of urgency from those in high places. Nevertheless, I am grateful for August closing its doors.

I will be resuming classes from home this semester. I made this unfortunate decision by calculating the plentiful risk factors, measuring just how perturbed I would be, and then factoring in the money I will save as a result of room and board being removed from the equation—a whopping $9,384

So, considering I will be on my computer all day long participating in Zoom classes, writing papers, and consuming entertainment, I will take this opportunity to find my silver lining in a material investment: a pair of blue light glasses, the perfect remedy to my life-long ailment of 20/20 vision. I have in mind ones that scream intelligent and stylish, but leave the proficiency of my vision ambiguous. And, as all of our screen times double, triple, and even quadruple, you might want to consider making the same purchase.

Lastly, despite immeasurable odds, it is essential we uncover some sliver of light in our dark political landscape. This is where I tend to keep a tight leash on my skepticism, because it is where my contrived emotional fortitude protects me most from the false trappings of hope. The prospect of the abhorrent incumbent’s reelection is a pit of darkness too deep and full of doom for me to plunge into, but it remains a cavern I teeter on the edge of every day. 

The Biden/Harris ticket, however, encourages my confidence in their presidential potential every day, especially after each of their impressive speeches at the Democratic National Convention. I will never fully let go of the leash tied to my skepticism, but I have loosened the reins a tad in hopes to inspire confidence in others and myself. An added bonus is the highly- anticipated Vice Presidential debate on Oct. 7, of which I am waiting for with bated breath and will almost definitely find joy in.

Additionally, joining a new community, opening a fresh stick of deodorant that your mom paid for, or the fact that trips to the dentist can kind of be skipped this year, are all possible sources of light if you can see them.

Ultimately, we are left to make the best out of a bad situation, and to do everything we can to ensure a better set of circumstances in the future: vote, wear masks, stay safe. Silver linings, no matter how minuscule, are important for us to stay cognizant of, especially when the world seems to be going to hell in a handbasket. They remind us of a future that is worthy of our investment. 

And after all, things could always be worse.