The Jewish Observer
News from Middle Tennessee's Jewish Community | Saturday, April 13, 2024
The Jewish Observer

Kvetch in the City April 2024

Watching the Oscars last month really wracked my brain. From the most offensive acceptance speech I ever heard in my life from a filmmaker refuting his Jewishness after winning an award for a film he made about the Holocaust, to moments later finding myself nodding my head in agreement when Robert Downey Jr. accepted his award thanking his terrible childhood.  

I have to say, I totally related to Robert Downey Jr.’s speech. Follow this thought and you’ll see what I’m talking about. 

I remember hearing the term “quiet quitting” for the first time during Covid. People doing as little as possible at work. People basically fed up, wanting more life/work balance, etc. 

Then, it seemed the term moved on. Next it was “quiet luxury”. Most noticeably, in the fashion commerce world where the term is now applied to dressing in the most expensive clothes in an unassuming way. For example, a person could literally spend $2,000 on a Gucci sweatshirt, that looks exactly like the same sweatshirt at Target, except made with better fabric and without the designer logo all over the sweatshirt shouting Gucci to the world. Wearing Gucci without others knowing it’s Gucci. That my friend is “quiet luxury.” 

Upon reflection of the “quiet” this and “quiet” that movement, I realized there’s one that’s been happening for quite some time in the world. I’ve decided to call it “quiet anxiety.” 

 I first noticed it when people started waking up to the reality of climate change. Next, it reared its ugly head during the 2016 elections. And of course, the whole world was united in anxiety living in the worst of the worst Covid years. Not to mention social unrest and now war. 

Not only does it appear that societal anxiety has not gone away, but it also seems to have gotten so much worse.  It feels like a chronic, silent, slow burn condition now. Practically everyone I know seems to be taking medication, or doing CrossFit like maniacs, streaming shows, or watching dumb Tik Tok videos for hours on end to find relief. 

It occurred to me the other day, I’m somewhat of a pro at “quite anxiety.” Upon reflection, it seems I was at the forefront of this movement starting way back in childhood. I think my form of “quiet anxiety” was embedded in me by the lack of adult parenting and the dysfunctional life I was subjected to during my formative years. I remember my first “quiet” anxiety attack in the car. I may have been around six or seven. My mom was behind the wheel. She, in her own, not so quiet single mom being overwhelmed by life moment, had apparently had enough of my sister, my brother and me, driving and screaming, “One day you’ll wake up, and I’ll be gone.”  My little kid self could not wrap my head around that reality as I sat there, teeth silently chattering. I mean, my dad was there one day, and gone the next. Was she serious? It was one of many moments living in a world of out-of-control adults, wondering what my unstable environment held in store. 

A lifetime of therapy, self-help books, and the fortunate gift of being a creative person somehow helped me navigate my way through life in a seemingly, somewhat successful fashion.  

However, like Robert Downey Jr. and his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad childhood, I have decided to use it all to create a winning life, as best as possible, because the way I look at it, it’s the only one I’ve got, and quite honestly, I’m glad to have it, “quiet anxiety” and all. 

Well, that is as long as spiders don’t crawl on me while I sleep and oh yeah…I don’t turn on the news.  

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