A few hours ago, all I wanted was my normal life back. I wanted to be in my classroom with my students, then race across town to teach dance classes for a few hours before going home to make dinner, chill, and go to bed. The longing for normalcy was amplified by the fact that at the beginning of the social distancing measures, I moved, had a nasty breakup, and had my identity stolen all within two weeks. As the social distancing measures increased, so did my anxiety and my desire for routine.
Everyone is handling this pandemic uniquely. Many are thankful for the time of reprieve, while others are worried sick about how they are going to pay bills. Too many are ready to get their kids out of the house. Everyone’s life has been shaken, so it’s normal for us to reach for the routine that makes us comfortable, rather than living in this realm of the unknown.
I will admit that I have been wallowing in self-pity too much, but it took one picture to help change my perspective.
Over the years, I have had the privilege of spending extended periods of time in India. This country is the most challenging and beautiful place I have ever been. It is a place I love, but I am always hesitant to return. Today, I saw a picture of a slum in India on the internet with the headline “Social Distancing is a Privilege.” I didn’t even have to read the article; I probably didn’t even need to see the headline to realize that even our inconveniences are a privilege.
If you are familiar with slums, then you know that people are close to everyone. There is no such thing as social distancing because there isn’t the space to do that. People in these situations across the globe do not have the privilege to make effective decisions about the health and well-being of themselves or their loved ones. Of course, there are some things they can do, and I’m sure many are doing everything they can to survive. But they are not just trying to survive exposure to COVID-19, they are trying to survive the economic ramifications, lack of food and services, and so much more.
Complaining is so easy. Now don’t get me wrong, expressing frustration and difficulties is good and healthy, but it has to be balanced with perspective. One of my favorite things to say (and probably the most annoying) is, “You can complain to me all you want. I would love to listen, only if when you are done complaining you are going to do something about it.”
During this time of stress and anxiety, we all need to stop before we complain and ask ourselves is this a complaint that I can do something about? Is this a complaint about something that might actually be a privilege? All it takes is one picture to change our perspective about a situation… if we let it.