Possibly The Best Thing To Do For Yourself Right Now

by Julie Thompson / November 4, 2020

Focusing On Yourself (for a hot second)

Full disclosure: I’m writing this on Monday. But by now, we’ve made it to Wednesday, November 4th, and any number of scenarios could be playing out right now… but election results aren’t really the focus of this activity (really!). What we’re here for is actually to focus on you for a second. Yes, you.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been consuming all of the media, listening to all of the podcasts, reading all of the polls, signing up for all of the volunteer shifts over the last few months (not to mention the heightened sense of, god, everything over the last four years). But it recently occurred to me that after DC’s voting window closes at 8pm on the 3rd, there’s going to be nothing left for me to do. All of this energy and anxiety and fire that’s been building over the last four years, all coming to a head on election night, and suddenly… it’s out of my hands? WHAT?

We all know that nothing’s ever “done” and once this hurdle’s past us, it’s time to look ahead to the next one – but again, that’s not really the point here. No one knows what to expect, and yeah, I know this is only the beginning no matter what happens… but I also know I’m going to be in for the emotional hangover of a lifetime come Wednesday morning, and I can’t imagine that I’m alone in feeling that way.

So, that’s where I’m at, and where I assume you’re at, no matter what outcome you were hoping for. What do we do with all that emotion floating around in our brains?

Processing, as a First Step

For me, it feels like processing has to be the first step. It feels trite to even say this, but our nation’s been grappling with a lot of really tough stuff over the last four years. 2020 has felt like we’ve been drinking bad news through a fire hose. I feel like I’ve invested so much of my time and energy this year to keep working, keep learning, keep things afloat, keep moving moving moving, that I haven’t had time to take a moment and stop and breathe, and maybe even grieve.

I’m an avid bullet journaler, but I absolutely loathe free-write journaling. Even in my elementary school days, I’d read about all these girls who kept diaries and I loved the romanticism of the idea, but I could never bring myself to keep a diary for longer than a week. I felt stupid writing my thoughts to, who, myself?, and I didn’t seem to get the same catharsis that all my literary idols felt after putting pen to paper. On the flip side, I find the prospect of trying to verbally process what we collectively just experienced (and are still experiencing!) with strangers uncomfortable. I’m feeling exhausted and spent, and if I have to put an ounce of effort into trying to put that inexpressible rage-excitement-sorrow-exhaustion-hope into words for people I don’t know – even people who are existing in the same rage-excitement-sorrow-exhaustion-hope as I am! – I might just scream. (Or melt into a puddle of wordless exhaustion – it really depends on the hour.)

So, I don’t want group processing and I don’t click with free-writing, but I’m still looking for a way to get these feelings OUT of me. To start the journey of what’s next. Where do I go?

The Journaling You Didn’t Know You Were Missing

We’ve thus come to the point of this journey: a guided self-journaling session. A place where you can direct and process your needs based on where your head’s at in this moment.

In putting this together, I tried to balance my own desire for a cathartic emotional unburdening with the reality that no one knows what’s happening next. The need to examine my thoughts from a different perspective with the understanding that I know I’m just not equipped to take myself on that journey right now. Sprinkled throughout this session is some Jewish wisdom from all sorts of eras, texts, and sources to guide you through your thoughts, because if I’ve learned nothing else from Gather, I’ve learned that Jewish wisdom is not only useful for putting me to sleep in Sunday school (hey, I didn’t know any better!), but can also provide a very relevant, active, and meaningful scaffold for living a more thoughtful, ethical, and fulfilling life.

Thank you for coming on this journey with me. I hope you get some sort of peace and clarity while exploring these questions and sources, and if you ever decide some verbal processing might actually be what you need – we’re here for you, whenever you’re ready.


The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.