The day after Monday’s terrorist attacks, we posted an Instagram story asking our community the simple question: ‘How are you feeling?’
‘Cuz you know, when something like this happens, just talking about it helps. Sometimes. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes the words you speak out loud feel like they’re retreating back inwards and causing an echo in the place where you’re hurting, and you want to just say fuck off to every phrase like, ‘sending you love and warmth,’ and ‘it’s going to be ok’ coming from people trying to awkwardly say the right thing (even when the right thing to say doesn’t exist at that particular moment). But we had to do something we thought might be useful on the day after such a tragic shitshow has gone down, so we asked people, ‘How are you feeling?’
From the minute we posted this IG story, I spent the day chatting in messages with those who answered. Hundreds and hundreds of responses kept coming in over the entire day. We couldn’t even answer and share them all.
All of them were raw, and the equivalent of a deep, painful digital sigh.
Now, I’m certainly not a person qualified to hand out counseling. When confronted with somebody else’s emotions, I’m typically like a drunk trying to dance on the bar, awkwardly trying to think up what to say and how to act. It’s hard to watch.
Anyway, all of that aside, I’ve sat down to write this personally to you, the people who wrote to us, and the many others in pain, because I realised two things from a lot of the feedback we got (one of them made we want to break out into my ugly crying face like I do – every. damn. time – when watching climate change documentaries) –
Firstly, it does help us all if we know we’re not alone in what we’re feeling.
To know that you’re part of a huge crowd of people feeling shit at the same time as you’re feeling shit makes you feel like you’re in a crowd of people doing their ugly cry faces at the same time.
It’s like that moment at a concert when you look around and realise everybody has their phones (or lighters) lit up in the air and their facial expression is the same as yours, and thousands of people are feeling EXACTLY the same emotions in EXACT same powerful moment as the band starts to play that song that’s everybody’s favourite.
Secondly, there are many, many (insert many more ‘many’ here) people out there suffering from some serious anxiety at the moment in Vienna (this is the realisation that brought me close to my ugly cry face).
So here’s a few thoughts made into words I’ve put together just for you that addresses directly many of the emotions you expressed in your messages.
Like I said, I don’t carry any street cred’ to hand out advice on how to sort through what’s going on in your head. I’d probably do more damage than good if you had me as your therapist. But these words are written from that place inside of me where the truth comes out, and are inspired by the raw emotions that you trusted us with in your stories –
To the fear you’re feeling…
You’re not alone. Swim around in that fear for a while, do backstrokes in it. But then, when you’re ready, do like one of those marvel comic superheroes do when they look just about beat, but then come back fighting. Fight against that fear. Make it your bitch. Stand on top of it and yell in the face of why it was there in the first place.
Fear is exactly the goal of terrorism – to hijack our souls with fear. Let’s give them the opposite.
To the shock, the exhaustion, the overwhelming emotions you’re feeling…
Try to imagine what history books…ok, history e-readers… in the future will say about this moment in time.
It will give you distance from it, remind you that we will collectively move forward from this, and make you focus on the question: how will history judge us for how we respond to these challenging times?
To the feeling of ‘being alone’ in all of this…
Have you ever hugged a stranger? It’s truly one of the most powerful experiences you can have.
Obviously, with Corona calling the shots at the moment, it’s hard that we can’t hug each other. But just imagine that for a moment – finding the grumpiest looking Oma on the streets of Vienna and hugging them. Them yelling at you and hitting you with their cane, but you just keep on hugging them – powerful stuff, right? 😉 You’re not alone. That person sitting opposite to you on the Bim is probably feeling exactly the same way you are at that same moment.
To those who fear that a rise in racism, Islamophobia and xenophobia will follow…
First of all, if you’re a person that has experienced racism in the past in Vienna, you’re probably worried you’re going to get a whole lot more of it now. You’re not alone. Behind this magazine is an international crew of people that stands with you.
Please reach out to us and we will share your story. Putting personal, human displays of racism up for people to see generally generates support for those that are slapped in the face with it. We live in bubbles and bringing somebody into your bubble for a moment is a powerful way to open their eyes and minds.
We simply cannot allow islamophobia and xenophobia to be our reaction to this. We promise at Vienna Würstelstand to be active and passionate advocates of a multicultural society and tell the stories that prove the beauty of such a society. If you have stories that you think will help us in achieving this, please do get in touch.
I know words can be less powerful when said by somebody you don’t know. You don’t know me and you typically know the magazine I lead as this website that gives you event tips, makes you laugh (hopefully) now and again with a IG meme, tells you where to eat and drink in the city, or what to do in your free time – these are our signature dishes at Vienna Würstelstand.
So you’re probably thinking – who the fuck is this guy to speak to me about how I’m feeling. Good point.
Well, your freetime, your freedom has been attacked. By a terrorist, and by a pandemic over the last year.
The creed of Vienna Würstelstand is to help people make the most out of Vienna…and life. In good times, we can do this with event guides and restaurant recommendations and stupid memes we make up while on the toilet (don’t worry, we wash our hands afterwards).