Does anybody else feel like that they are learning a lot of life lessons during this quarantine? Does anybody else even feel like, perhaps they were damn fools before, blind to a lot? A lot about themselves and the world?
I was feeling pretty on top of the world before this pandemic started. My career was going well. My partner and I had just purchased a home. I had a group of wonderful friends (I still do and talk to them daily because it saves me.) But I remember saying to my partner *a lot* during those few great months: I’m afraid the other shoe will drop. I remember saying, “People don’t get to be this happy, right? Something has to go wrong to balance things out.” And now I’m regretting how very correct I was. But, I do have some perspective here: COVID-19 didn’t show up to personally put a damper on my party. There are millions of people who feel like the Coronavirus rained on their parade. And, for even more perspective, there are people for whom the Coronavirus didn’t make their wonderful life a bit crappy: it made their already very difficult life now insufferable.
It took me some time to come to that last realization. I was too busy kicking the wall, lamenting all of the great things I had coming down the pipe that are now cancelled. Then I realized a lot of people already had tough lives before this pandemic hit. And I’m glad I was able to make that shift in perspective. So I could stop complaining. It shows I’m growing. This pandemic actually has made me grow as a person in many ways.
I used to turn my nose up at money
Look, the reality is that I’m fortunate to come from a family who have done well for themselves. But I’ve always resented the pressure I’ve felt to be like them—to earn like them, or to marry someone who earns like them. In a way, I’d scoff at money and wealthy individuals, and would resent financial privileges my parents tried to give me. I’d turn them down. I was “better than money.”
Now, I know money can be a lot of things
So I’m currently safely in a lovely home my father-in-law is allowing us to stay in, in a quiet, safe neighborhood. You know what made that possible? His hard work. This house is love but it’s also money. My mom offered to send me money if my finances become tough during the pandemic. That’s love. That’s food and rent. You know what else it is? Money. I won’t sugar coat it. Money f#*%ing talks.
I’m older and more realistic
I’ve stopped being a snotty idealistic brat who said “Money can’t buy happiness!” And “You all rely too much on money—you’re superficial.” I’ve realized money actually saves peoples asses and can be a form of love. As I sit here, I feel a sense of security because I have savings. That’s money. What I mean is, I’ve outgrown some of my younger, more idealistic views of “I can be happy with next to nothing.” Nobody was asking about happy; the question should have been “Can I survive with next to nothing?” Nope! I have new respect for the family who has financially kicked butt, who I used to look at as snobs.
I hadn’t fully experienced friends before
I’ve always known on some conscious, simple level what friends are for. Of course friends should support you and listen to you and make you laugh and be there for you. If you asked whether or not I believed that’s what friends are for before the pandemic, I would have said “Duh.”
Now I know what friends are for
Now, I’ve really put the qualities of my good friends to the test and they’ve come through with flying colors. I didn’t know they were this enormous source of comfort and stability—this rope that could secure me and pull me back when I felt that I was at the edge of despair. I’m going through a lot emotionally right now. We all are. My friends have saved me from what felt like a mental point of no return during this. Who knew what absolute warriors for my happiness they could be when called upon. I feel dumb for not realizing what gifts I had in front of me before.
Life is all about relationships
And just like that, I got it. You know what’s brought me back from darkness during this tough time? Not thoughts about my career. Not putting some efforts into my career goals. It’s been my loved ones. You know what I’ve missed so much it hurts? My friends. My family. The first thing I want to do when this is over is run to them. That’s it. Not get back to work or pursue notoriety or clout or accolades. I want to see the people I love.
So maybe my relationships deserve more attention
If it’s my relationships that keep me going emotionally now, maybe it’s time I start paying them SO much more attention when this is over. I used to squeeze a social life into the teeny, tiny corners of my life that were left after the me-centric things came first. How silly. I was giving the least water to the most fertile ground.
I’m lucky it’s just me
I’m the only person I’m in charge of right now— my finances, my health, my emotional well being. Everything. And yes, I worry about those things. I fret and complain about how this pandemic is making it harder for me to take care of me. But then I stop and think of a different group of people and stop my whining…
Parents are up against the wall
Parents have all the same individual concerns I have for their wellbeing and then on top of that, they have to keep their kids safe and healthy and fed and entertained and educated right now. If things don’t go their way financially, it has a trickle down effect to an entire family. If they lose their health, their children lose caregivers.
Parents have to fear while they smile
Just me—I get to bitch and moan and admit that I’m scared and the situation sucks and I’m not sure what’s going to happen. Parents can feel those things but they don’t get to show it: they have to appear confident and happy so their kids aren’t scared. Damn do I have a newfound respect for parents. I don’t know how they do it. I’m barely doing what I have to for myself. They are incredible.
So, we have to stay inside. But nobody is coming to get us. There is no enemy hunting us down door to door. Actually, so long as we stay home and take the necessary hygiene precautions when we don’t stay home, we have a lot of control over whether or not this enemy gets us. We are still predominantly the authors of our own fate.
We have resources
We have thermostats and Wii and Netflix and Amazon Prime. And our leaders are working on this. How and how fast they work on it can spark some debate but they do have our interests at heart. We have smart phones and laptops. Being inside right now isn’t so bad.
We aren’t a group who has really suffered
I mention all of those things—about the resources and the control over our destiny—because there have been groups who stayed inside and didn’t have that. Like those persecuted in the Holocaust or other terrible genocides. They had to hide for years without the comforts we have and with no control over their destiny. They were hunted. Oh, the leaders? Their new leaders were the ones hunting them—nobody inside their country was trying to save them as our leaders are trying to save us. I’m humbled by this reality. Humbled doesn’t even cover it.
We have no control
I think because my generation (millennnial) has barely experienced such an enormous force before that wiped away all of our hopes and dreams, we were cocky. We thought we controlled the world. We are great at technology. We are innovators. We are social justice warriors. We really felt we could run this town and by town I mean world.
We will always be small
I’ve learned now that at any moment, no matter how hard I’ve worked or how much I’ve been grinding or how smart I am or how talented I am, there will always be bigger forces like wars and pandemics and recessions that can eradicate any sense of control I had in an instant. By this, I’m also humbled. And hope to move forward in life knowing that even the chance to work hard and grind harder is still a gift that someone else controls and can be taken from me. I shouldn’t be cocky because I’m grinding: I should be grateful that I can.