If You’re Not Angry, Get Angry

Your writing may depend on itphoto by AJ Colores, Unsplash

Given the state of the world during the time I was in high school, my friends and I were all pretty disillusioned about our futures and our places in society. Bush, Jr. was president and we were all afraid of getting drafted to fight in the stupid wars overseas.

We didn’t feel like we had a voice.

I had rejected the idea of going to college in favor of pursuing something different. I didn’t want my brother’s life or my parents’ lives, and I didn’t want to take anyone else’s advice about what I should do once I became an adult. I thought everyone else had it wrong, anyway.

I used to go to punk rock concerts on weeknights, smoke a ton of weed, and get home hours after my curfew. I dyed my hair black and had my lip pierced.

I was angry.

But over the years, I have undergone some dramatic changes. I don’t see the world around me getting much better, but I think my perspective on it all has undergone a complete 180.

Maybe this is part of growing up, or maybe it’s the fact that I’ve received more than a decade of therapy, got sober, developed my meditation practice, and found the love of my life.

Regardless of the cause though, I mostly see the world of today as a pretty remarkable place.

But I’ve found that this lack of anger makes it harder to write.This is how I see it:There is no other time I would rather be alive than RIGHT NOW.

Sure, the Internet has exacerbated the divides in our country, but it has also connected us with vast amounts of information and diverse people we otherwise would’ve never met. You never truly have to be alone.

There are huge problems with inequality, but so many marginalized people are beginning to speak up and be heard.

Some CEOs and politicians are going down for their misdeeds. Other powerful people are on notice.

When it comes to curing debilitating diseases or innovating our way out of any problem that comes our way, we have so much potential as a society.

As a gay man, I can now be married to the person that I love.

I am usually grateful for what I do have, even when I am constantly reminded on Instagram and Facebook of all the things that I don’t have.

It’s taken a lot of work, but I usually remember that my life is amazing even if it’s for having only the necessities:

Health, shelter, education, family, friends, love, passion, autonomy, freedom.

Despite the problems, I’m still optimistic. On a personal level, I’ve never been more happy.

So, what the heck do I write about?

When I read advice from Medium sages (like Tom Kuegler), they often tell first-time bloggers to focus on the following:

“Write about what makes you angry.”

But what if I’m not feeling angry?

What if I’m spending time on Medium to get away from all the things that can make me angry? What if I prefer to avoid all the headlines that remind me of our massive political divides, the erosion of civility, and the imminent demise of our democracy? And what if it’s working?

Medium has shown me that there are still so many amazing people out there! Here, I am discovering writers who inspire me, ideas that warm my soul, and words that make me feel less alone in the world.

Sure, I could write about what’s still wrong with the world, but…. Do I want to?

Yes, it turns out that I do!Luckily, I haven’t lost track of my teenage angst.

As I stared at my blank computer screen today wondering what to write about, I became filled with gratitude that I could tap into what used to piss me off. It turns out, this stuff still angers me.

I still don’t feel like I have a powerful voice.

I still don’t trust the consensus from “the adults” about how to live The Good Life.

I see the stats that show that most people are disengaged at their work. I hear about the ballooning drug epidemic among middle-class moms and the outbreak of loneliness among middle-aged men. I know so many people who have shiny lives with “beautiful” exteriors, but they are miserable and hollow people.

I see people my age who are counting the days until retirement.

I know people who pursue money, material possessions, and career success to the gates of hell.

I sit back, shake my head, and wonder:

How many people on their deathbeds have to tell us that all of this stuff doesn’t matter?

I get glimpses of the “Breaking News” and wonder how long I will stay immune from the discord in Washington or the unpredictable relationships with our adversaries overseas.

I look around me and see too much injustice, too much need, too much greed, and not enough resolve.

That’s enough material for 100 Medium stories right there!

And I’m still not perfect.

I’m embarrassed for concluding that things are better in the world when so many people feel so much pain.

I realize that the possibility of progress doesn’t mean that things will get better for the people who need the most relief.

I become aware of my privilege as a white man, which is something that I too often forget.

I go through periods when I’m FULL of fear, when I’m taking more than I’m giving, and when I’m focusing on myself instead of helping other people.

I get anxiety attacks because I’m so overwhelmed with my expectations of myself, or by what other people will think about me.

Sometimes I want to throw in the towel. I get so tired of feeling like an alien all the time. I wonder if it’d be easier to be like them instead of constantly charting my own path.

I debate whether any of this is worth the effort.

I dream about moving to a remote island somewhere. I wonder how long I can live off of my savings or whether I could make a living blogging full-time from a hostel with little else but an Internet connection.

So, does it really require anger to write?

Probably not, but it sure does help.

As a new blogger, I do find it helpful to tap into my anger, and my fears (is there a difference between the two?).

It turns out that the topics that make me angry are also the topics that I’m most passionate about. Writing about the things that I fear makes my writing more honest. And it’s easier for some people to relate to these things.

Does this mean that I’m walking around fuming all the time? No.Does it mean I’m not optimistic? Absolutely not.

But all the subjects that I mentioned above are the things what drove me to write in the first place. Writing is cathartic when I am producing the words, or when I am consuming words arranged by other writers. Writing offers solutions and can change peoples’ minds, including my own.

I’m realizing now that this is part of the power of Medium.

What do you think? I’d love to hear it!

Email me: Cee.Vinny2@gmail.com

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If You’re Not Angry, Get Angry was originally published in The Writing Cooperative on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Read more: writingcooperative.com

  • March 5, 2019
  • NEWS