Margot Pomeroy: Eco-Anxiety in a Post-Pandemic World (Intergenerational Series - Essay #1)
At OneGreenThing, one of our goals is to stop talking AT younger generations and to encourage everyone to listen TO younger generations, from 20-something Millennials to Gen Z and Gen Alpha, the generations who will inherit the Earth. As part of our countdown to the release of our CEO & Founder Heather's debut book, One Green Thing: Discover Your Hidden Power to Help Save the Planet, we are releasing a series of essays by members of Gen Z. We are so grateful for their willingness to share their stories and lend their voices to the mission of "saving our sanity & the planet." Our first installment is from Margot Pomeroy, an environmental scientist and visual artist millennial whose Service Superpower is Sage. Her insights inspire us & we hope they give you hope in the future.
By Margot Pomeroy
Right before the pandemic I had a major depressive episode. Very good timing. As someone who has treatment-resistant chronic depression, it wasn’t exactly a new experience, but it’s always scary when things that once compelled you lose their feeling. When I look back on it, I think I had been trying too hard to embody other peoples’ dreams and expectations of me, and was failing to keep it up. I know we all face that pressure, but it wasn’t something I was willing to carry through my life. So I dropped out of college and planned to emigrate from the United States before a crisis hit. I remember being convinced it was inevitable, while naively thinking I had enough time to get out of bounds. Sometimes the universe is funny like that.
Starting in 2020, crises did hit, as you might recall, even before the pandemic itself did. And I remember it was in some ways validating to have the outside world be as chaotic as my inside world. To have my cynical perception of the world be mirrored back to me for all to see. But it wasn’t ever what I’d wanted; I’d wanted to be wrong.
Right before the pandemic, I moved to a new city, hours away from anyone I knew. I was only planning to drop off my belongings at my parent’s house and then jet off to France to start my new life. One where you could take public transportation anywhere. One where your train ticket would tell you its carbon emissions. One where the connection to the food grows roots into the earth. And one I felt was in alignment. But as I said, funny, funny universe.
Knee deep into the pandemic and I was nowhere near France and my dream was no longer aligned with me. I was scared; brutally aware of the strain of empathy as the world around me writhed in pain. Isolated in a new city, with no connections, I was forced to be alone. But I’d done that before--I had spent several years as a teenager bedridden with no friends in the same time zone. An alone that felt hollow. But while reliving an old nightmare, I was also remembering something important that I’d forgotten.
Forced to become insular once again, I was cut down to my foundations. Forced to let go of my dreams, my perceptions of myself, old coping mechanisms, and in some ways, I was even forced to release the standards I held myself to. For so many of us during the pandemic, what we considered aligned action fell to the wayside as the outside world made it harder and harder and we had to struggle just to survive.
I had a conversation with a dear friend quite recently and we discussed how, when you set off to find yourself, it is sometimes a privilege and an advantage to have a clean slate. Sometimes losing all the things you relied on, losing all of your attachments, makes it easier to decide what truly belongs in you and in your life. And it can make it easier to figure out what alignment truly looks and feels like for you, because it’s meant to be different for everyone. There’s no one size fits all. Your strengths and your path are your own.
When I took the One Green Thing’s Superpower Assessment, it was no surprise that I garnered the label “Sage”. During the pandemic, I drove to a local park almost every day. I took my dog on a walk and then I sat in the comfortable “privacy” of my car and meditated. I spent large chunks of my days lying in the sun of my backyard, trying to find inner balance and soothe my volatile mind.
Spending all that time with myself, I changed and grew more than I ever thought a person could. What had been a very lonely time grew into a beautiful and magical time of forging empowering connections. I got to see other people grow, just as I had, and my hope grew along with us.
Now, almost two years later, I have more than I ever had before the pandemic, before what I like to call my “Icarus plummet” (or one of them). I earned my college degree, and I did it for me. I now have the strength, the energy, and the means to live my values in every action. To spend time in nature, to work with nonprofits, to make meaningful art, to reduce my negative impact on the environment and increase my positive one. And now I grow food, love, and genuine connection.
The outside world no longer shows me the chaos of my inner world. In my dark moments, I no longer feel that the human race is a lost cause, that there is always a big bad around the corner, or that I need to escape it all. I still understand that the world is swimming with people who aren’t in alignment with the greater good and that the earth is fatally suffering. I understand that most of our systems are broken. But now I know what I once had not. There are more people out there who want to make the world a better place than you’d think. Some of us are quiet. We leave the rat race, we unplug from social media, we don’t need to be the center of attention anymore, we don’t need validation, and we don’t need to make anyone see our point of view. Instead we leave your life and enter our own. We try to live each moment with presence and appreciation, heading in the direction of our own true north. We understand that if the world were a perfect place, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to grow.
You are always meant to have the same destination: you.
But what you may find is that reconnection with self can help you to situate yourself in the natural world that you are inherently a part of. You are connected to everyone and everything around you, even when you feel alone. And sometimes the things you think are meant to break you, are just meant to reset you.