Two Brexit blogs in one week is a lot, I know. I’m sorry. But it is hard to put Brexit to one side because it is very much not at the side. It is at the forefront. Fortunately for us all, this blog is less of an angry rant and more of a thought process.
Politics has become an overarching feature of my day, and I’m sure the days of many others too. This is not a bad thing. Greater political engagement, especially of young people, is part of what will address the issues tearing apart our countries. Following the heart wrenching case of Cyntoia Brown, I was reminded of the power of Internet activism. But that being said, to be up to date with the news and the state of the world is more than just your civic duty, or the start to your day, but a constant stream of opinions, information and conversations that you are engaging with. With lots of stressful and terrible things going on in the world, other pursuits can seem trivial in comparison.
I know this is how I feel sometimes, seeing someone tweet about lipstick, and I’m sure it’s how I look, writing about Polish food and nature in Cornwall. When there’s so much racism and terror and political uncertainty, to have the luxury of spending your time still having fun and thinking about non-essential items, like travel or terrible films or shoes, is a sign of your privilege.
But I think you can do both. You can be a conscious citizen, paying attention to the news, having important conversations, donating and protesting and signing petitions and still make time for the things you enjoy when the world isn’t going down the drain.
Stressing about Brexit probably isn’t the basis of your personality. If we’d voted no to the referendum, I wouldn’t be waiting around for some large-scale economic disaster so I’d have something to talk about (though even without Brexit the world is offering plenty for us to discuss). I know ‘being political’ used to be seen as a choice – and I’m sure still is in many circles – but that state of the world has necessitated more engagement. That’s a good thing. Voting matters and knowing what you’re voting for matters. But day-to-day, week-to-week, the stories in the news often stay in the papers or the on the screen. The day after May’s deal was beaten with a historic margin, news outlets were full of this news, and yes, I had to address it at work, but fundamentally, my day was normal, despite this big news.
I still read my book. I still sat on my lunch break writing a blog. I didn’t magically become a different person, who doesn’t want to see the world. If anything, it makes me want to see it more. Regardless of what’s going on in the world, I still have interests. Those don’t disappear because of the political climate.
Everyone has hobbies outside of their work. Whether it’s something like crafting, reading, watching Netflix, going to the gym, singing, drinking gin, whatever – this is the fun stuff. Getting angry about Brexit and Trump and the awful, awful attack on Jussie Smollett is important and necessary but it’s not, you know, fun. It’s not a hobby. If the world wasn’t burning, I imagine most people wouldn’t be marching around looking for something to protest. Activism is born out of injustice.
I do feel bad, writing about adventures and travel and apolitical things in such a polarising time (though I do have conversations about difficult subjects almost everyday and I’m writing about them more) because it feels… Silly. Uneccessary. Trivial.
But in the midst of all this, life is still going on in the background and for many of us, life will continue, if changed a little from before. I know I’m lucky – for anyone who loses their job, or is being deported as I write this, life will change irreparably. I want to be cognisant of that fact while also reflecting that political instability will likely be a mainstay of the next few years at a minimum, if not the rest of my life, and having fun and sharing my interests and thoughts outside of those issues will remain something I want to do.
I guess what I’m saying is that in the age of Trump and Brexit – I think it’s okay to still have fun, or aspire to have fun. It’s important to be politically aware and engaged, but alongside that, it’s okay to still have ‘frivolous’ interests. To still make time for the things that are important to you. Not every blog I publish – not the majority of blogs I publish – will be about huge, difficult, important subjects, though some will, and that’s fine.
I love to see the world. I love to read. I love to take photos. I love to learn languages. I love to hang out with my friends. I am so deeply lucky to have the means and time to do all of these things regularly. I hope to be able to incorporate all of these things into my life in some capacity forever, regardless of the backdrop.
Especially regarding Brexit, I hope showcasing the beauty and joy to be found in Europe can add some value. At a time when we’re more divided than ever, I hope there’s something positive to be gained by taking an interest in other countries and cultures, learning other languages and reading translated books. For those of us who believe there’s something great to being a part of the European, and global, community, beyond merely constitutions and policy, I don’t think it’s trivial to spend time reflecting on the wonderful people you meet all over the globe and the amazing sights you can see.
Right now, many people are trying to close borders, limit freedoms and make the world smaller. I hate that. There’s so much amazing stuff all over the world! And, newsflash, lots of great people, who are in so many ways just like you. I find so much joy in taking it all in. And honestly? With climate change worsening and the UK closing itself off from the global community, it makes me want to get out into the world more. I hope that never goes away, regardless of what’s going on in the news.