Coping with Corona
Today marks 24 days spent mostly in isolation with the exception of 10 minutes a day of outdoor time and the occasional run to the grocery store.
Two weeks ago, 20% of the world’s population was living in some form of lockdown due to coronavirus. That figure is still increasing. That’s 1 in 5 people globally or nearly 2 Billion in total. A giant figure. It’s hard to truly comprehend the magnitude of this figure when your day to day world is a minute fraction of that number.
For better or worse, about 2 Billion people are having a very unique shared experience right now. And thanks to 21st century technology, we can peer into how others around the world are coping with this crisis – through the 24 hour news cycle, Instagram stories, Tik Toks, blogs, Zoom virtual happy hours, Facetime and more. We can find out how others are feeling, what they are up to, what struggles they are facing and how they’re managing this situation.
It goes without saying that our socio-economic status affects our isolation experience. Seems there’s a variety of isolation for everyone. From the super rich, to the middle class and to the poorest. We’re all being asked to stop our regular life and stay inside, but that means something different for every individual. A family in the slums of India is having a different isolation or lockdown experience than Jason and I or even a celebrity.
I spend a lot of my day thinking about, reading up on or watching how others are coping with corona – family, friends, colleagues and strangers. Maybe I’m looking for hope, or maybe I’m looking for someone to validate what I’m feeling or maybe I’m looking for proof that being alone in this way is not that bad, because we’re alone together through this shared experience.
IT’S OKAY TO FEEL
Something that preoccupied my mind in the early days of this crisis, were feelings of guilt. How can I feel sad about this situation, when I’m so much better off than so many other people who are going through much worse? The refugee that has no running water to wash their hands with, the waitress who has already lost her job, the family without Internet in their home – the list goes on and on. The more privilege you have, the longer the list of people who have it worse than you during this crisis. But should privilege preclude us from feeling sadness?
Reading an interview in Harvard Business Review with David Kessler – an expert in death and grieving, changed my perspective and helped me to see things differently. In his interview Kessler describes what we’re feeling:
I feel sad, but I shouldn’t feel that; other people have it worse. We can — we should — stop at the first feeling. I feel sad. Let me go for five minutes to feel sad. Your work is to feel your sadness and fear and anger whether or not someone else is feeling something. Fighting it doesn’t help because your body is producing the feeling. If we allow the feelings to happen, they’ll happen in an orderly way, and it empowers us. Then we’re not victims.
After reading the article, I realized three things. 1. It’s okay to feel sadness – even amidst privilege. 2. Our feelings of sadness are just as valid as the feelings of sadness of someone in a less privileged position 3. It’s important to process our feelings and try to use our mental energy to think about things that are in our direct control. It sucks that so many people have it worse, but me not processing my own feelings of sadness and grief doesn’t help me or anyone else. Once I process my own sadness and stop being a victim, I can play a part in making the best of the situation and help others, who may be less fortunate, get through it – with big or small acts.
Not everyone can be on the front lines – of course I’m grateful for those that are, and they’re without a doubt our heroes. But even for those of us that aren’t on the front lines, and are still comparatively in a privileged position, there are small things we can do to alleviate the situation. Luckily, I’ve already seen a lot of this happening around me. Whether it’s picking up litter in your neighborhood, making others laugh with your TikTok, making a donation to a charity, sharing information from a reputable source with friends, sewing a mask, keeping 6 feet from each other – these are simple daily acts that help contribute positively to the current situation. I believe there’s collective power in these individual actions.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
Things are changing and in large part we don’t have control over how they will continue to change, but they most certainly will. We may see entire shifts in our economy, our society, our industries – the changes could be very profound. All of this is a scary thought. Especially for me, someone who likes having control, planning, knowing what’s ahead – it’s very unsettling. After nearly a month of staying mostly indoors, I’ve adapted physically to this routine (mostly because of our 4 ft X 4ft balcony, which includes a patch of faux grass). The physical part of this isolation, that’s not what affects me and brings me anxiety at the moment. Mostly because thanks to my privilege I have everything I need and more – food, shelter, comfort, hygiene, an outdoor area) What brings me a sense of anxiety is the future.
We don’t know what the future holds. We don’t know how long we will be kept away from the things we hold near and dear or the once mundane routines of our lives – hanging out with friends, seeing our family, eating at restaurants, going to the office, going to a concert or a sporting event. But most importantly, we don’t know the kind of fundamental societal changes – good and bad – that may become a reality in a post coronavirus world. For now we can ponder and debate, look back at history for signs and turn to the experts for logical speculations of what could be, but we will not know for sure until time has passed.
How are you coping with corona? What aspects of this situation preoccupy your mind most? If you want to share, DM me on instagram. @freddyravioli.