N is for Negativity

| May 5, 2014

Reading over my previous posts, I’m a little embarrassed at how many contain some form of thinly (or not-so-thinly) veiled complaints about stress, work, and academia in general. I usually try to keep a positive outlook, so I’m not exactly proud of how such attitudes creep their way into these assignments. But judging by the other content I’ve read here, I’m not alone in this; ’tis the season, after all. And in a weird way, that’s kind of heartening. I’m not saying that all we should do is bitch, but there is something to be said for commiseration: it helps us realize that we’re all human and going through the same kind of things. It can foster empathy and ease some of the shame and existential loneliness we feel about our personal struggles.

In her speech “The Long Revolution,” Arena Stage founder Zelda Fichandler makes the seemingly outrageous claim that “we must hang on to our despair,” because it is precisely this despair which “creates anger, and anger creates energy, and energy turns things around.” We can only fix a damaged system or correct a problematic situation by first calling it for what it is, rather than blithely glossing over its very real detriments and ignoring their impact. Negativity, if used proactively, can be the antidote of complacency.