This was an article I never intended to write. Now every
part of me is screaming at me not to hide anymore. I’m not overly political and
I don’t talk about a lot of hot-button topics on Medium. Now I’ve decided to
show what I stand for. I’m a free speech absolutist. This means that no matter
how controversial your opinion is, I stand by your right to say it.
I believe there are only two genders. I believe that abortion
is a more nuanced debate than simply ‘my body, my choice’. I believe that people
from all ideological walks of life deserve to have their voices heard, no
matter how repugnant their views may be. I don’t care if you’re Christian, Jew
or Muslim. I don’t care about your sexuality. I don’t care if you’re a
communist hippie vegan or an alt-right skinhead. I don’t care about your race,
either. If this is too controversial an opinion for you, you may want to stop
reading this article.
Free speech is inclusivity. Free speech is being able to say
what you want without being charged for a crime. The
ever-increasing divide between political groups is dangerous and there is less
middle ground than there has been in recent memory. That precious middle ground
is what holds the extreme left-right politics at bay. The middle ground is what
allows people to talk
about their views in a calm and reasonable way. Free speech is being able
to say; ‘I don’t like what you have to say, and I think you’re wrong, but I
defend your right to say it,’ rather than ‘Shut up you bigot, it’s not okay to be white!’
I’ve seen and experienced a lot in my life so far. Now I’m
in the twilight of my twenties, I care less about fitting in. I have, and I always
will be an outcast. There are a lot of millennials who don’t believe what I
believe, and that’s okay. I’m sure there are plenty of people from other
generations who don’t hold the same beliefs as I do. I suppose I feel so strongly
about free speech is that I know what it’s like to be censored. My father was abusive,
and he used subtle methods of emotional manipulation to control me and my
family. Piece by piece, all my emotion and agency was ripped from me. I became
an automaton. He did this whilst rarely lifting a finger. Even when I realised
what he was doing was wrong, it took at least a year for me to come forward to
the authorities. That’s the power of emotional abuse, and I will never let
someone else guilt me into retracting my words. Nothing anyone can say can hurt
There is a little ball of anxiety that lives in me. It wanders around in my head sometimes and then rests. It has both eyes open and stares into the void. This is a normal day. The anxiety may appear a few times during the day to let me know it’s there and then it retreats into the shadowy recesses of my mind.
Today, the anxiety got bigger and more demanding. It wouldn’t stop running through hypothetical situations in my head, telling me what could happen. This creature is normally tame because I keep it on a tight leash. The leash broke and I ended up chasing it around my head like a frustrated owner trying to catch a mischievous dog. It dragged up past memories like sticks from the mud, demanding I play fetch with it for some reason. I thought I might have an anxiety attack!
I don’t want to play with these memories! What gives?!
Then I realised something. These were just sticks. This is a game. These sticks can’t hurt me. My anxiety pet just wants to play with me. It’s just as much a part of me as any other emotion.
If we don’t interact with the supposedly more negative emotions that we feel, we are ignoring part of what makes us human.
Anxiety taught me some valuable lessons today. It taught me that it can be a force for good. It can encourage me to analyse past memories and draw inspiration from them. Anxiety can encourage us to be present and plan for the future. Like any other emotion, anxiety also needs our care and attention sometimes, like a loving pet.
So I’ve decided to play fetch with my anxiety. It’s important to give it something fun to do once in a while!