Dear Ada,

I can’t help but give incredibly dirty looks to anyone who “looks like” they voted for Trump. I am so bitter and angry with the state of the world, that I feel like I physically cannot contain my anger and resentment. I know that not all white men voted for Trump, and that I can’t just go around assuming that every white woman is a self-hating-anti-feminist-moron (I’m a white woman FYI), but my heart is so filled with rage that I feel like I’ll explode all day every day. Please help me to be more forgiving and tolerant.

Sincerely,

Burning Ball of Rage.

Dear Rage Ball,

My advice? Explode. There is a time for forgiveness and tolerance, and there is a time to be a burning ball of rage, and this moment in history, I believe, is a time for the latter.

True, not all white men voted for Donald “AreYouFuckingKiddingMe” Trump, and not all white women are, as you said “self-hating-anti-feminist-morons” (though some definitely are…I’m looking at YOU Aunt Cheryl!!!), but white people – even the liberal ones – are to blame for the current state of the world, and that cannot be denied and it should not be forgotten.

After the election, SNL produced an incredibly pointed sketch that depicted a group of friends, some black, some white, watching the election returns. As the white people in the scene gradually dissolved into horror and dismay, the black characters sat back, disappointed but unsurprised. The black characters weren’t surprised because they understood that America is a racist place, and that the forces of bigotry and greed are stronger than any co-op-shopping, Atlantic-reading, NPR-tote wielding liberal would ever be willing to admit.

The truth of the matter is, we were lazy and we failed. Generation after generation, we failed. We’ve had LITERALLY CENTURIES to fix this shit, and we haven’t. Maybe we chose to laugh uncomfortably at Uncle Paul’s racist joke last Thanksgiving instead of calling him a prick. Maybe our grandparents chose to move their kids to a “better (whiter) neighborhood” thus draining resources from cities and segregating the suburbs. There is nothing we can do to change the past, but we have to recognize our role in creating the present before we can shape the future.

My suggestion for you, my beautiful burning ball of rage, is to refine the trajectory of your anger-asteroid so that it achieves maximum impact. That means instead of shooting death-glares at every white man in a pickup truck, or every white woman with frosted highlights and a snow globe collection (goddamn it Aunt Cheryl), redirect that energy into doing real work to shut down racism, misogyny, and bigotry, and that includes within yourself.

Participate actively in the process of democracy and social justice that you purport to believe in. Donate time and/or money to the SPLC, the ACLU, Lambda Legal, Kids in Need of Defense, and literally every other organization you can find. Read up on local politics and support candidates who are waging war against gerrymandering and voter suppression. Tell Uncle Paul he is a prick and Aunt Cheryl she’s a moron. Listen to what black people, queer people, immigrants, and Muslims have to say about their experiences and their struggles. Then amplify their voices instead of drowning them out with your own. Read everything Ta-Nehisi Coates has ever written.

Marginalized people have been doing the hard work for far too long. It’s time for white people to step the fuck up. We made the mess, and we made it in someone else’s kitchen. It’s time to be courteous and clean it up.

Much love,

Ada


Dear Ada,

I’m in love. I know, I know, poor me right? But I’m worried that things are moving too fast. We’ve only been dating for a few months, but already I feel like this could be “the one.” I’m in my 30s and I have been in several long-term relationships that each ended pretty terribly. This one feels very different, but I’m torn between taking it slow and being cautious, or falling hard and fast.

Sincerely,

En Love

Dear En Love,

First of all, PLEASE tell me your pseudonym is a Lizzo reference, because she is a goddamn queen. Secondly, fuck it. We’re all going to die in a North Korean fireball in the next 3.5 years, so why not let yourself be in love? People are so good at getting in their own way, so good at inventing reasons why the right thing can’t possibly be right, especially if it is easy or fast.

You mention that you had several past relationships that “ended pretty terribly,” and I’m sorry for your pain. I imagine it has to be difficult to allow yourself to be open to new love, under the weight of past hurts. I want to applaud your bravery and assure you that, yes, this one could be very different. It also might not, and that’s ok too.

Love is a risk. It is a beautiful and terrifying risk, but it is usually a risk that is worth taking. Now that doesn’t mean you should be dumb about it. You need to take a breath, take a minute, and take a long hard look at the reasons those other relationships ended so terribly. Were you stuck in a pattern of attraction to toxic personalities? Were you engaging in behavior that was self-destructive? Were you seeking out love as a way of filling a void in other areas of your life? These questions aren’t easy, and they certainly aren’t fun, but they are valuable and doing the work on finding those hard-won answers will serve you and your new love immeasurably.

I also want to challenge several assumptions that people who are seeking “the one” often make:

1. Any relationship that ends is a failure – False. All relationships end, one way or another. One of my favorite Louis C.K. bits is about how the best-case scenario in love is that you share your life with someone and then they die. Most relationships end long before death, and they end by choice (which is a nice way of saying, they end with one party being tossed out like week-old moldy falafel). These relationships are not failures. They are valuable experiences that can inspire introspection, growth, terrible poetry, and excellent songwriting. Take those experiences for what they give you, but try not to carry their full weight into your future.

2. If it isn’t forever, then it wasn’t love – False. A great book doesn’t cease to exist the moment we turn the final page. When you leave a job, that past experience doesn’t disappear from your resume. You can’t un-eat a burrito. Love is love while it lasts. That’s just physics.

3. There is one special person for everyone – False. Love happens when compatibility meets timing (wow, doesn’t that sound romantic?). After that, it’s about hard work, compassion, and vulnerability. We could each be with literally anyone, but we have to be ready, they have to be ready, we have to be decently compatible, and we have to want mostly the same things. That’s it. Cue the violins.

Humans are smart little monkeys, and we learn from our mistakes (most of the time). Perhaps your past relationships and the “terrible” ways they ended prepared you for this hard and fast fall. Chances are that after those relationships ended, you had a clearer picture of what you want, what you don’t want, and how to make something good work. It’s only natural that things would move a little faster with that new information.

You’re never going to regret being in love. Event when it hurts, even if it ends, love is the one thing that can crack us open, make us bolder, give us new eyes through which to see the world, and the world is a flaming pile of hot garbage right now, so if you are in love, then please for the sake of humanity, go be in love.

Also, go listen to some Lizzo.

Much love,

Ada

Got a question for Ada? Email her: askada@graceless.me