Right now, it’s popular to say the latest crisis is going to make us better. And while we clearly won’t benefit from allowing ourselves to freak out and binge on the news all day, we need to give ourselves a break. We need to let our emotions out—not just the positive ones.
We need to give other people a break, too.
Let’s stop calling everyone lazy because they can’t convince themselves to reboot their lives just yet.
Give them time.
Millions of people just lost their jobs, along with a good chunk of their hopes and dreams. You don’t bounce back from that. It takes a while. You’re allowed to drink some wine and stare at a screen.
Parents are struggling right now, just like anyone who takes care of another human being. It takes everything we’ve got. Sir Isaac Newton invented calculus during the London plague of 1655. Good for him. He didn’t have a lonely 2-year old following him around every waking minute. Once a day, I want to lock myself in the bathroom and scream.
But I don’t.
Later, I feel better and manage to get some stuff done.
This is life right now—managing to get some stuff done. Maybe just barely. It’s good enough. You don’t need to do more.
We’ve been deluged with advice on just about everything, including how to clean our homes. And yet, most of us haven’t been able to find cleaning products for weeks now. We’re all wondering if we can afford that $20 bottle of rubbing alcohol on Ebay, or if buying it rewards price gougers, and we should stick with hydrogen peroxide.
This is what we’re thinking about, not how we can read faster. Not how to optimize our home workouts.
That will come later. Maybe next week.
We’re still learning how to let go of our old lives. We’re realizing that things will never get back to normal. What we call “normal” is just a fit between expectations and reality.
We’ll adjust our expectations to fit this new reality.
But let’s not call this new reality normal quite yet. That’s a slap in the face to everyone out there still dealing with the crisis. For millions of us, nothing is going to be normal for a long time.
Some of us really wish everyone would shut up about Tiger King. It’s not funny. It’s not entertaining. It’s deeply sad.
It’s sad how many people will pay hundreds of dollars to hold a tiger cub, depriving it of a natural upbringing. It’s sad how everyone in that world treats other human beings. If I wanted to see that, I could just head over to Walmart, or call up my uncles.
A lot of us don’t have this mystical free time that keeps getting mentioned. We’re spending hours on things we shouldn’t have to, like tracking down disinfectant and wiping off our groceries — because COVIDiots keep putting their mouths on everything.
Yesterday, our AC went out.
The repair man completely disregarded social distancing guidelines. He asked to use the bathroom, and I was too polite to say no. His visit forced me to clean half my house a second time.
We don’t know if we’re heading into a recession or a depression. We don’t know if we’ll have a job in a few months. We don’t know when we’ll be able to leave our houses again, or when daycares will reopen. But we do know we won’t feel safe in public.
We know we’ll worry a little more when we leave our kids anywhere. We’ll wonder if someone we love is going to give us a deadly disease, or vice versa, and we’ll wonder if our immune system can rise to the challenge. We know to take lots of Vitamin C, just in case.
We know we’ll have to keep washing our hands and scrubbing our floors all the time, to make up for someone else’s lack of judgment. We know one of our bosses won’t care about what we’re going through, and expect us to keep up our high performance.
We’ll deal with it all.
We just want to acknowledge how much this sucks.
Some of us didn’t want to change. We liked who we were. We were productive. We were happy. We were making money. We were already in the middle of a home renovation project.
Then this happened, and we clung to optimism.
We were the lucky ones.
We thought we were going to make such good use of our quarantine. We were going to pressure wash the deck. We were going to organize our spice cabinet. We were going to write a book.
We had no idea how hard this was going to be.
And now we’re starting to realize that.
Now we see the truth. We have less time and more responsibilities than ever. We’ve lost a part of ourselves. We’ve lost loved ones. We’ve lost some of our heroes. We’re going to lose more.
There’s always more work to do. There’s always a new mess to clean up. There’s always a new update about the virus that scares the hell out of us all over again. There’s always that thing you forgot to get on your last grocery run, and now it’ll have to wait another week.
You don’t have to invent calculus right now. You don’t have to start a new company. You don’t have to keep telling yourself that somehow all of this is going to make you stronger. All you have to do is find a way to live, stay safe, and keep from pulling too much of your hair out.
Nobody should be asking more of you than that. Anyone who calls you lazy right now is gaslighting you. You’re not lazy. You’re not negative. You’re not emotionally immature. You’re in mourning, or recovery. So relax. Have a cookie. They’re made from real girl scouts.