Rewind to 16 days ago…yes…16! It feels like way more than that, if I am being honest. Little did I know then just how quickly and dramatically life…and really, the world as I knew it, were about to change.
It is honestly hard for me to even remember what my daily life “way back then” looked like…back when I was going about my life just like everyone else. Back when I headed out the door to do such things as:
• dropping and picking up my kids from school
• work from my office
• workout at the gym to blow off some steam
• run a quick errand at the grocery store or bank
• eat a meal at a restaurant
You know….all those things that I used to do without ever thinking about how close I was standing next to someone or having the fear that I may have just done something like used my hand to open a door and forgot to immediately sanitize or wash my hands before I touched my face.
I sit here and wonder so many things:
• The longer this goes on..the further we get from how we used to live our lives…and the longer this “new normal” goes on…will I..or any of us even remember how we used to go about our daily lives?
• And, even if we do, will we ever be able to go back to living them the same?
• Will we always be a little hesitant to get too close to each other?
• When will the day come when we get an invitation to a party, wedding or happy hour and not have some lingering anxiety about saying “yes”?
• Will hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes just become so ingrained in our “new normal” that we get to the point where they are just “what we use” as part of our daily lives without even thinking about it?
• Will us socially distancing and getting used to not seeing one another in person make us more likely to continue to do so once (when) we are finally able to get out there and be together again?
• Or will we be like a person lost in the desert for days, dehydrated who finally finds water and rush toward what we have been so deprived of and take in as much as we can as soon as we can?
Personally, I know that the sheltering in place order has had the most impact on all areas of my life. Not only am I now working from home, but my kids are attending school at home, and I am missing the heck out of my family and friends. While I am grateful that this pandemic is happening in a day and age where we have the means and technology to be able to work, continue school and communicate through such means as FaceTime, Zoom, and group texts, none of this is the same as face-to-face, in-person interactions.
As social animals, even the most introverted of us all need human connection at some point. We are not meant to live in isolation for days, weeks or months at a time. And, I don’t count making a run to the grocery store in the hopes of finding anything less than empty shelves while fearing someone gets within 6 feet of you, or anxiously trying to avoid touching anything that is potentially contaminated as a meaningful and healthy social connection.
But it’s not just our social lives, relationships and connections that have been so drastically affected. We are all impacted by this in our own ways. There is just not enough room here to write about how each and every one of us has had our lives change and inconvenienced by this pandemic.
Whether struggling to provide for just basic food and shelter, striking the balance of working from home with homeschooling children, trying to overcome the disappointment of having to cancel a wedding, or grieving the loss of someone to COVID-19, every single one of us has a common threat: this virus.
Regardless of our individual circumstances, the reality is that this virus is what we are all facing. IT is why you…us…we are all in the current life situation we find ourselves. There is no use in comparing who has it worse than someone else at this point. There is no use in trying to say that someone who has to cancel their honeymoon or is upset that they can’t have their high school or college graduation “should not” complain when someone else lost their job or a loved one.
They are all losses, changes and disappointments that nobody expected or deserved to have happen. We are all allowed to feel how we do, and this is not the time to start comparing who has it worse or feel guilty for being sad about your situation “because someone else has it so much worse”.
Let’s have compassion for one another. This virus is bringing with it more grief, loss and changes in the plans and lives of everyone.
And nobody saw it coming. Nobody was prepared for it. And it has only been just over 2 weeks. That is A LOT for anyone to wrap their minds around.
This virus….this pandemic is affecting all areas of our lives in so many ways. Let’s sit back and take a deep breath and realize what has just happened..to your individual life….to our country…to our world.
Because this all happened so fast and we are afraid of what might come at us next, we want to be prepared. We don’t want to be caught off guard. Whatever we can control, we want to.
That is why the stores have empty shelves. Because of the fear of what might come next, some went into “survival mode”. Having that two-year supply of toilet paper? It may seem unnecessary, but at least we feel in control of something. It gives us a feeling of safety knowing that we have done something to protect and take care of ourselves and our loved ones should the next “big surprise” come along.
In a world that feels so out of control, we will try and control anything that we can.
But, we need to focus on what is really going on: nobody wants this to be happening. Nobody. We all wish this was not. And the best outcome for all of us is that we come out of this healthy, alive and economically stable. All of those things are threatened for all of us right now.
I hear it in the voices of my patients…in those of people close to me. Nobody knows how this is going to turn out for any of us. We all want this to be over quickly. And with each day that we hear the numbers of cases and deaths increasing…or that the shelter in place orders are extended, I know it is creating much more fear and anxiety.
I write this not to perpetuate the fear and anxiety you are already feeling out there. I write this to remind you that you are not alone…we are not alone in this.
So in those moments when you start to panic….miss your loved ones so bad it hurts….. think there’s no way you can make it another day at home…..or find yourself starting to lose hope……remember….millions of people all over the world are right there with you.
There is nowhere to go….you’re not missing out on anything….everyone else is at home, too….wanting this to be over just as much as you do.
We are truly all in this together. Stay safe and healthy.