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Gen Z Anxiety & a Coup: A Teenager Shares Her Perspective on Jan. 6th

Originally published on on January 13, 2021

I never thought I would witness a coup before my eighteenth birthday.

I honestly thought my biggest problem this year would be managing to get my college applications in on time and keeping up with online school. Looking back, I feel very naive to have felt that way, but the anxiety that I feel about this country had become such a normal part of my daily life that I never imagined it could get worse.

My 8th grade field trip to Washington, D.C.

The past four years have been spent with an overwhelming fear of what an irrational man would do next, or what his supporters would do. When he told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” they listened, when he told the terrorists that easily overtook the Capitol he loves them they listened, and his affirmations gave them a sense of belonging and immunity. They were lulled into thinking that they could infiltrate a building containing the house and senate without any retribution. The most concerning part is that they were right. When I first heard the news of a “protest” at the Capitol building, I never considered the possibility that they could break into one of the most secure buildings in the country. I was quickly proven wrong.

My immediate reaction was confusion and anger.

Why were the police who were supposed to be protecting the building taking selfies with insurrectionists? How did this escalate so quickly with no resistance? Were senators actually having to hide in fear of their lives? How is it that on the same day Georgia elects its first black senator, a confederate flag is flown for the first time ever in the halls of the Capitol building? How did Georgia also elect their first Jewish senator right before people with anti-semitic clothing are seen participating in the insurrection? After these among hundreds of other questions swarmed my mind, I nearly had an anxiety attack. I started the day feeling so proud of the south for this momentous success (thanks to Stacey Abrams), only to end it with a sense of fear for how our country can recover from this.

Now that I have had a couple days to contemplate what happened, I am still confused. I am still feeling like it was some sort of nightmare, that an insurrection encouraged by the president could never happen in the United States. I also know that this is more than just a bad moment in our history, it is proof of the power that white supremacists hold in this country that can no longer be hidden or excused. We have to create a country where kids don’t feel anxiety about their futures, or be constantly berated with bad news and being told that they have to fix it.

While I still can’t fully articulate my emotions after January 6th, I know it is a day I will never forget.

It was a day where nearly four thousand Americans died from Covid-19 mostly due to the lack of action from the same president who incited and encouraged the irrevocable damage done by domestic terrorists on that same day. It was a day where I felt so much joy for the progress that the south I have grown up in made. It was the day for my generation where everyone turned to the news to watch a national disaster occur.

It will hopefully be a day that inspired Americans to really think about why it happened and how we can never allow something like it to happen again.

I now try to look forward to optimism from the darkest day in American history during my lifetime, and hope that it was the push this nation needed to grow and heal.

Maggie Dees is a senior at Salem Academy. She is a guest contributor to and the Eco-Anxiety blog.


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