5 ways to stay angry (and create beautiful things for the world)

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Like most millennial women, I share a group chat with two of my best friends.

Whenever an injustice happens, circumstances get tough through no fault of our own, or we’re breathless with disbelief about the flow of political, social, and economic events, we’ve coined a battlecry:

“Stay angry.”

Society has long told women to be more pleasant, to step back, or to find ways to be more neutral and accepting — that boiling over with rage is unbecoming, or unwise.

Of course, the same goes for men to some extent (what with constant unbridled fury being pretty unhelpful for society), but for women our lifelong conditioning to bite our tongues, hold it in, and pick our battles requires serious unravelling.

But times are changing. And so are we.

So we say: “Stay angry. Whatever you do, stay angry.”

And so should you.

Not forever, and not for keeps. Holding grudges and vendetta are boulders for a soul swimming through the mighty rivers of experience.

But healthy anger itself, in its raw and justified form, is a tool. It’s a fire in your heart, and under your ass. When you’re angry, and you know you deserve to be, you have the power of confidence on your side — which is the backbone of action that inspires great changes in you, and in the world.

And when you take that action? That anger turns into momentum; leaving you free to keep fighting the good fight with love in your heart, instead of hate.

We live in a world where complacency is easy, and welcomed.

“It can’t be all that bad,” we say, as we return to work, to our phones, to our other conversations.

But it can be. And it may be. That’s why complacency is the enemy of truth. So we have to stay (constructively) angry — and stay moving.

So if you, like me, are currently struggling with a big clay ball of confusion, sorrow, and frustration these days — may I make a suggestion:

Use those feelings, and pour them into making something.

Creation allows me to stretch my anger out, to meditate on it, and learn from it. To use the energy the heat of my chest has created to build into something else.

And now, I hope you’ll do the same with me. I have a few ideas.

5 ways to stay angry (and create beautiful things for the world)

  • Way #1: Use your art

If you play music, write a protest album.

If you’re a writer, pen and share exactly how you’re feeling consistently. Share what you’re reading, and what you’re thinking.

If you do comedy, start writing a bit that makes people think, and reminds them what’s at stake.

Paint. Draw. Speak. Make videos. Wherever your creativity leads you, use it. Raise your fist however you see fit.

  • Way #2: Go guerrilla

My favorite iteration of this is guerrilla gardening, whose official tagline is “Fight the filth with forks and flowers”.

Guerrilla gardeners use abandoned or neglected lots and plots of land to stage acts of protest for a range of causes — including land ownership and land reform — by sowing and tending illegal vegetable patches and flower gardens by night.

Other ideas:

Guerrilla positivity: Post-it notes or signs reminding people to stay strong, and keep smiling.)

Guerrilla bake “sales”: Bake key protest words, phrases, and imagery onto cakes, cookies, and treats, and share them with the neighborhood for free, talking to people you hand goodies to as you go.

Guerrilla greeting cards: Share cards with words of tolerance, or hope, or even — yes — anger if you like. Drop them into mailboxes. Have a field day.

FYI — International Sunflower Guerrilla Gardening Day is May 1st. Plant sunflower seeds in places you feel could use a little more beauty; like empty flower beds, tree pits, and roadside verges. I’ll be joining this year. Will you?

  • Way #3: Open the door to conversations, online and in person, that you may have been uncomfortable discussing before

Now is not the time to stay silent. Now is not the time to worry about who you might be offending, or who might offend you. Ask your questions, share your insights, and invite feedback.

Be prepared to be disagreed with and hold space anyway. (Or don’t. I’m a “more flies with honey than vinegar” type, but it’s your platform. Say what you need to say, without hesitation.)

While this isn’t “beauty” in the traditional sense , every sentence, every thought, every opinion can plant a seed in someone’s heart, and help them pick up the torch when their time comes. So don’t hold back.

  • Way #4: School yourself and others on how to help the people around you overcome bullying or harassment

There’s already a great comic about this making the rounds on social media about combatting islamophobia, but the same technique can be used for homophobia, racism, sexism, and everything in between.

If this happens to you, or to someone near you, online or in person? Do not keep quiet. Share about it. Write about it. Make another comic. Open the door to dialogue and keep it open.

  • Way #5: Hold protest parties

While I haven’t done this yet, it’s a great way for yourself and your friends, to offer people space to vent, swap ideas, but also make merry.

A few ideas: Smash the patriarchy parties, Drinks and discussion parties, Rage art parties (to create more of what we talked about in Way #1).

Get creative. I sure will.

Now — are you ready?

This is it.

Stay angry with me.

Don’t let it fester, but don’t let it fade.

The fight is just beginning. How will you rise to meet it?