When a tragedy like this occurs, I find myself studying it, wanting to know exactly what happened, who was there and what they saw. I can’t explain why. It’s not as if I like seeing all of the heartbreaking images or imagining what it must have been like in the scene. I hate it. But perhaps it is just an attempt to understand what has happened, to know the people affected in some small way.
This particular attack, though, has struck me deeply. I relate to this event. I relate to being a fan. Therefore, I feel compelled to express my thoughts and sadness through the written word, if only to just get it all out and try to better understand what I’m feeling.
I have dealt with anxiety for many, many years. My anxiety is especially triggered in large crowds during big events, such as concerts. Something within my mind likes to taunt me, conjuring up the absolute worst-case scenarios that could possibly–but more than likely will not–happen. I start to question everything and everyone, and I have to assure myself that there are people there to keep everyone safe, and that events take place all the time without incident.
But for thousands of people at Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester on Monday, something did happen. A nightmare tragically came true.
I cannot understand it. The fact that some monster can carry out an attack against anyone is unimaginable. But children? Teenagers? These are innocent beings, young people already struggling to understand the world around them. They haven’t done anything wrong. And now suddenly, some of them do not get to go home, and the others must live with all they have witnessed.
And at a concert. I am an avid concertgoer through and through. A concert is supposed to be a safe space. It is an escape from the problems of life and the world. It is a chance to see your favorite artist, to experience their music live and in person. It is a place to be with friends, even make new ones and connect with a room full of strangers on the deepest level. The fact that that image and feeling has likely been scarred for some of those concertgoers breaks my heart.
Something has to change. That is obvious. It is too easy for this kind of thing to happen. It is difficult to know what we can do as individuals, but I think one of the biggest things is to pray, to think of others, spread the word about how to help, perform acts of kindness, and, most importantly, go out and do things. We cannot fear everything over one thing. Show the evil doers that we won’t lie down, and show the victims that they can and will stand back up. And if you need help doing that, if fear and anxiety is consuming you, seek help. There is no shame in it. Talk to someone about all that you are feeling.
To those taken, I hope that you are seeing and living a better world. I hope that you are able to hold on to the good memories you have of the show, and celebrate the time you had while watching over your loved ones still here.
To the survivors and every concertgoer at the arena, I know that this must be mentally and emotionally painful and exhausting. I know that you have seen the worst the world can offer, but please know that you have a world of good behind you. You will overcome. You will move forward.
To the first responders, thank you for doing what you do. You see so many things, and you continue to fight for the innocent. It seems that you moved quickly and did your work, and we as people of the world thank you for that.
To Arianators, even those who were not at this show, stick together. Fans are a special group, a committed foundation of people sharing a heartfelt passion. Ariana needs you, your fellow fans need you. Spread love and stick together.
To Ariana, all the love. I know you must feel helpless, like you somehow let people down, but you could not have predicted this, and you could not have personally provided anymore protection than you already had. I know what it means to look up to an artist, to deeply care about what happens to them. So open your arms to your fans. Provide a light not only for them, but for yourself. Take care of yourself, your team, and your work.
To all of us, spread positivity. There is so much ugliness in the world. Don’t add to it. Eliminate it. Live your life and be kind. Just be nice to people. You can make change and be productive and still be a peaceful, positive individual.
My sincerest prayers go out to Manchester, as well as Marawi, Bangkok, and any other place in our world where people may be suffering or facing unimaginable circumstances. I believe in our ability to change, to be new and good. I believe in us. All of us.