I am stuck. People in my life are stuck. Society is stuck. The world is stuck. Once I’m stuck and I haven’t found a way to get unstuck, it’s hard not to notice more stuckness around me.

Let’s start somewhere: I’m stuck in my anxiety. Now most restrictions due to the pandemic have been lifted, the restrictions that remain are mostly in my head. Whether they’re unreasonable fears or reasonable concerns: mentally I’m like a tree: my roots are in the ground and I’m unable to move in a way I did before. Simple excursions in the world outside, like travelling by train or commuting to work feel strange and sometimes even scary.

The only way to get unstuck for me, is to stop doing what you did and start doing what you need to do. But my mind protests and then my body protests. And it feels unfair that I struggle so much doing simple things. The answer is the difficult path forward: facing the anxiety and facing the fear. By moving, taking action, becoming unstuck. But if I’m stuck in low energy state, it feels almost counterintuitive to do precisely that.

I’m also stuck in routines. Routines of not writing as much as I want, not reading as often as I think is good for me and not stepping up to the plate to do what is necessary… Or do something that doesn’t immediately pay off in some kind of reward. I get stuck in routines of playing games until they’re not fun anymore and I should honestly just do something, ANYTHING, else but I feel unable to. Routines of checking Twitter, then TikTok, then Instagram, then the news, then Twitter again. Sometimes these things feel useful or nice to do. Sometimes they objectively aren’t useful. Something I’m frustrated by algorithms or the state of the world or things outside my control. And yet I keep on doing it. Stuck.

Of course, I’m not completely stuck. In many ways things in my life are in constant flux, maybe sometimes too much. Achievements in both my professional and personal life have been rewarding. But some things feel so big that, when zooming out, things feel stuck anyway. And that’s what I’ve been seeing around me: people getting stuck because they can’t fix a certain problem they encounter, our society not finding consensus to tackle the big problems we have right now: whether it’s the climate crisis or housing shortages or war in Ukraine or what feels like any other issue right now.

“Stuck” artwork by Lotte Boots.

And so, sometimes it feels like the stuckness is all around me, all around everyone. But maybe that’s just my perspective or a bias thing: “I feel Stuck: therefore there is Stuckness around me.”

Maybe it’s better to change a few letters and speak of the sticky aspects of life instead of stuck aspects. Stickiness implies movement is still possible and perhaps even happening, it feels less permanent than being stuck. It also implies – to me at least – that there isn’t a big solution needed to move forward. To get unstuck you must think different, but to get less sticky: sometimes to keep going is enough. Keep going and change your perspective. Keep going and find that we’re not stuck in what we’ve been doing, we’re just sticking to it. We can keep going, and find that eventually, whatever made us stick to what we’re used to, is not that sticky at all.

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