#21: feel the fear

Hi everyone! Welcome back to my newsletter — sorry for the lack of content here. I’ve been really focused on finishing up this semester of college at NYU. I feel so inspired now that all of that stress is over, back to write and share what excites me with you.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to play into the emotion of fear — how to take it head on, work through what scares you. In the spring, I’ll be preparing for a big transition in my life: law school. I hate transition periods. I’ve always hated the in-between, the unknown. I’ve been scared to actually sit down to take the LSAT because I don’t want to know that score. I’m happy to live without knowing what number defines me and my future, in some sense.

It’s taken me a lot of time to develop any bit of self-confidence outside of seeking validation from things like numbers, grades, achievements, etc. And… I really have learned to like all of the weird, unquantifiable things that make me me!

I can imagine that many of you who just follow me online probably don’t know that I feel haunted — almost everyday — by the worry of not “doing enough” or being worth anything. I know that social media only shows a certain side of life, you don’t see the day-to-day of people on the internet, or what they’ve struggled with to get to where they are.

I moved to New York and interned in fashion. Sometimes, I even beat myself up about that now — like a law school admissions officer will reject my application because my resume jumps from a fashion production internship, to one at a women’s rights non-profit… to all of the “influencer” type work in-between. How does that look… am I “doing” life or a career, right?

But then I think… what if I gave myself the freedom to just live, without fear of taking the wrong step. What if I believed in myself enough to just live and know that I’ll get make big policy changes in the world, be a judge, take on litigation one day. It’s really hard to know if you’re going to be *okay* in the future.

I do enjoy sitting in fear, though. It scares the shit out of me, sometimes… to not know what’s next. It’s a certainly a debilitating force that can make you want to quit everything. Yet, fear really propels me to find clarity and investigate. What am I scared of? Do I really want to go towards these career goals, jobs, passions, etc. that scare me that much — or should I change my intentions? Fear makes me want to be a better person, have more of a passion, rationale, intention behind the things that I *think* I want to do in the future.

If we weren’t scared, would you act? I think I need something that seems unreachable, too big that scares me in front of me… or I’d be too comfortable.

I’m working through fear, getting over my daily bouts of imposter syndrome… trying to see what life would be like if I woke up everyday and tried to believe in myself, see myself for what other people saw in me. Even if I fail at finding good things in myself everyday, I want to know that at least I tried to believe in me.

Without further rambling, enter newsletter #21: feel the fear.

Politics:

Paul Krugman – The Ezra Klein Show: In this conversation, Ezra talks to economist Paul Krugman about a wide swath of political issues, how to think about opportunity to make progressive changes, dreaming small vs. big, and the political feasibility of what a lot of the 2020 Democrats want to pass if they win the election.

What’s Trump Done to The Courts? Courts across the United States are the area in which conservatives have successfully mobilized around in such a dramatic fashion. These judges will stay around for upwards of 20, 30, 40 years even when Trump is out of political office.

Appeals judges will issue final decisions on most federal cases. Trump has appointed nearly 1/4 of the current judges.

Policy By Other Means – The Weeds: This podcast is incredible, first of all. In this episode, the guests talk about a lot of the problems that I’ve come across through working at my research position at Supersystem. (Launching soon!!!) The hosts talk about administrative burden and various hurdles that people have to overcome to get access government services — like food stamps, passports, visas, etc. This seamlessly intertwines my interests of law, policy, and accessibility to government in a really smart conversation.

2020:

Blue New Deal? Read Elizabeth Warren’s Newest Climate Plan, here. We need to include oceans in a comprehensive climate solution — as fleshed out and explained in this plan. I commend Warren from listening to many activists of color in drafting this policy proposal.

I really dislike following the horse-race of the 2020 election cycle — who’s up, who’s down in the polling. This mode of political analysis detaches us from the problems facing real people, often times.

We sit thinking about Q3 fundraising numbers, polling margins, etc. It makes politics reserved for an elite crowd. A lot of the infighting on policy and ideology is good — I think that Democrats should wrestle with the differences now instead of all the candidates playing nice with one another about where they see real differences in policy. This is all to say that I find there are many real life problems that communities are feeling on the ground — communities who may not vote in elections — that the news should be focusing on, rather than having a panel of 10 so-called politicala “experts” discuss what a Morning Consult polling change means for the 2020 race.

I will say… about 2020… that Pete really … is… positioning himself, indeed. Read more here about Pete’s private fundraisers, and read here in the Washington Post about his untethered, disingenuous political jabs at the progressive candidates who… I guess… are dreaming “too big” for Mayor Pete. Pete Buttigieg’s disingenuous attack on Medicare-for-all

Another good piece here: Mayor Pete Owes us some Answers. Candidates should be accountable to student activists, not corporate donors.

What am I watching in the race? This. (Democrats threaten to skip debate amid labor fight) It would be incredible to see Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren (+my two favorites in the race) pledge solidarity with labor unions in something more than just a symbolic gesture, but a real action on the ground.

Environmentalism:

To Read: The Case for the Green New Deal – Ann Pettifor This book narrates the ideology embedded in the Green New Deal, giving a lot of extremely beneficial ways to think bigger, re-imagine a society outside of a pessimistic narration of a status quo stuck in a climate crisis.

What’s COP25? The United Nation’s final climate-related conference before the Paris Agreement is put into place in 2020.

In such highly insular, elite institutions like the United Nations, these bodies demonstrate the inequities we see in global negotiations. Large, capitalist countries often get to dictate what happens on most global issues, though developing nations are likely to suffer the majority of the burden, feel most of the impact.

And… shit is happening on the ground at COP25. Civil disobedience to demand action on climate is getting squashed. The voices of everyday people like you and me seem to matter less than those amassing all of the wealth and pollution….

“The countries least responsible for the crisis, but suffering the most, could stand even less chance of receiving financial support to recover from devastating impacts.”

However… the language, rhetoric, and activism around climate change has changed since the 1980s. Things have gotten much more serious — climate predictions are starting to sound scarier, whereas conversations 10-20 years ago didn’t seem to instill any passion in people to act. We were used to the “business-as-usual” scenario that things would be fine, we just needed to make minor behavioral tweaks, not seek out systemic changes.

So… How Did Climate Change Become so Apocalyptic? The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC. Now the IPCC is narrating a much more dire future, being much more honest in its assessments. The body is leading academic conversations to say that the worst scenarios will occur if we continue business as usual, instead of glossing over how bad things will be if we maintain this status quo.

From this…. yes. Do your individual action. Be smart about which individual actions you take on, what makes sense to your day-to-day life. Don’t compost if you have to drive 100 miles to do so. Don’t freak out about flying if that’s a part of your job. Being politically engaged is more important to make an impact on the planet.

A lot of the times — individual actions serve as a feel-good gesture, which is fine (!!!), but studies have found that when people are incredibly focused on their individual action, they are LESS likely to support broad, systemic, political changes.

“There’s even research suggesting that when people feel as if they’re making an impact on climate change in their personal life, they’re less likely to support a carbon tax or other climate policy at the government level.” (As in Quitting Burgers and Planes Won’t Stop Warming)

Lifestyle Changes Aren’t Enough to Save the Planet. Here’s What Could. An incredibly grounding piece by Michael Mann, whose work I admire.

“But who is truly walking the climate walk? The carnivore who doesn’t fly? The vegan who travels to see family abroad? If nobody is without carbon sin, who gets to cast the first lump of coal? If all climate advocates were expected to live off the grid, eating only what they could grow themselves and wearing only the clothes they’d knitted from scratch, there wouldn’t be much of a climate movement.”

What do we need? Carbon taxes. Incentives in green energy production. Reduced consumerism. Designing climate policies that are inclusive to marginalized communities — including frontline communities in the conversation.

The False Promises of Green Materialism: Buy less, don’t buy greener.

“We thought originally that…buying green and buying less should have a positive impact on well-being…We did not see that emerge with green buying, but we did see that emerge with reduced consumption.”

Here’s a ranking of the highest impact climate solutions… a lot of this surprised me.

What you can do? Reduce food waste! (And.. Subscribe to this lovely newsletter through the link called “Climate Fwd” by the NYTimes!)

Guess what… recycling doesn’t have as much of an impact as you think. 8.4% of discarded plastic is recycled !!! Read more here in The Great Recycling Con.

Climate Litigation: Drilled Podcast Give this podcast a listen to hear more about litigation, lawsuits, etc. being brought about environmental issues.

Greta Thunberg:

Guess what? Greta was named Time’s 2019 Person of the Year. And what she has worked to generate around climate change is incredible — drawing attention to how we can push for people in positions of power to take action, instead of offloading the pressure to reverse a climate crisis onto individuals. She has embodied the individual action to push for systemic changes — which I find to be a highly successful way to generate change!

However — yes — Greta encompasses some of the shortcomings, privileges of an environmental movement centered around whiteness.

Even Greta Isn’t Radical Enough – She’s brought attention to the issue, yes, but climate change is already happening. We can’t wait months, years, etc. to act — read about what’s happened to the Arctic just this week.

It’s very daunting and scary: we might reach a point of no return, where we lose control of this system due to the climate change humans have created. Read about these tipping points, here.

“If multiple tipping points are reached, it’s questionable whether emissions reductions will be enough to stabilize the climate system.”

Don’t Call Greta “Superhuman” — A lot commentary around Greta emphasizes how “unique” she is for having disabilities AND being able to generate attention towards a global climate movement. As someone with a twin brother who has various disabilities, I encourage you to think about how you speak about the disabled community from this piece — what is problematic, triggering, and limiting to their capabilities.

“Attributing her talent to autism is a remarkably illiberal way of looking at leadership—that some people are simply better than others because of inborn traits.”

I will be publishing a paper I wrote for college on Greta Thunberg once I get it graded from my professor — it touches on a lot of what I was getting at above: her privilege and successes, a status quo of neoliberalism in environmental activism that has stalled climate-related movements from generating real changes.

Health + Wellness:

How to know what tests to ask your doctor for with Frank Lipman, M.D.: In this episode of the MindBodyGreen podcast, they discuss how to know what nutritional deficiencies you have, which supplements to take, etc. I find the wellness world to be quite complex to navigate — so tune in here to learn more about finding the root of health-related problems!

Speaking of the Wellness Industry…

One of my favorite podcasts, The Dream, just launched its second season! The first season looked into multilevel marketing schemes, the second season is all about the lies, cures, myths, and bullshit products promoted by the wellness industry. Give Episode 1 a listen to get a glimpse into what this season will be about — so excited to learn about what they find in their investigations of companies, products, and more!

Unsure of what supplements, vitamins, etc. to take? Listen to Bill Nye in this podcast episode: Do Vitamins Even Do Anything? They debunk a lot of myths around the supplement and wellness industry.

Blue Zones!

What’s a blue zone? Dan Buettner has studied the longest living, healthiest populations for 15 years. He has categorized 9 things that all of the longest-living communities have in common with their diet, health, exercise, and wellness practices.

Listen to this MindBodyGreen podcast on Blue Zones for longevity, here! And read this in-depth piece here, called The Eating Habits of the Longest Lived People.

Blue Zones are a really important solution to be included in climate-related solutions, as we can dually cut back at America’s obesity epidemic, health care costs, etc. if we enact policies to make it affordable and possible for everyone to live lifestyles like those in Blue Zones.

We need to stop beating the dead horse of individual responsibility and switch the focus to changing people’s environments. It’s completely delusional to think we’re going to get 330 million Americans to eat the right diet, do 300 minutes of physical activity a week and live a purpose-driven life. We need to improve the ecosystem we live in, one that sets Americans up for success.” (Dan Buetter, as interviewed here.)

Why Food Is A Social Justice Issue with Leah Penniman – A very exciting podcast that also encompasses the ways in which climate related solutions must address our public health crisis. Problems like food choice, food deserts, redlining, etc. all demonstrate how environmental racism has caused health disparities that disproportionately impact communities of colors.

When We Reduce Women to One Thing – A little GOOP Podcast on how to navigate a career, and your passions. I find myself often simplifying, cutting back on my talents when I try to explain who I am to other people. Being an activist or politically-engaged doesn’t make you less — and I’m trying to see my passions as something which makes me worth much more.

SPOTIFY PLAYLIST: onto the next chapter

Hope you enjoyed! Feel free to share this with your friends, it would mean the world. As always — sign-up to receive the next installation of my newsletter here, and follow my Instagram for more frequent updates! 

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