I’ll be honest with you – initially, when I learned that I would be working from home for the foreseeable future because of the coronavirus pandemic, I was excited for the challenge. I had immensely high hopes, confident that not only could I knock out my work to do list that had been mounting for weeks but also that I could tackle projects around the house that needed attention and that my busy schedule had just not allowed time for.
Then I actually started working from home and realized the gut-level truth – I barely even had time to step away from my work to go to the bathroom or to eat a haphazardly self-prepared meal, let alone exhibit any modicum of getting ahead.
And I don’t even have kids. To all the moms and dads out there – God bless you. Seriously, from the bottom of my exhausted heart.
In life, I’ve learned, there are times where we thrive, and there are times when we survive. And, in those times where we survive, surviving seems like the equivalent of winning a gold medal, running a marathon, or reading War and Peace in one sitting. In times of survival, taking a shower and brushing your teeth means the day was a success. In these times, simply remembering to breathe, making sure everyone in the house is fed, and making sure everyone in the house is still alive at 11:59 p.m. is a pat on the back-worthy feat.
So let’s get one thing abundantly clear about these next few days, weeks, and months that we are all trying to figure out our new normal: Please, I beg of you, stop holding yourself during these precarious, uncertain, unprecedented days to the standard of thriving. No, you do not need to organize your pantry. No, you do not need to learn a new skill like sewing or learn how to bake a pie from scratch, and no, you do not need to clean out your garage or call every friend you’ve had since preschool. I mean, power to you if you can do something like that and homeschool your kids and continue to work at your full-time job in a crisis environment and stay current with the ever-evolving news and manage to sleep at night. If you can thrive during COVID-19, then really – that’s fantastic. But we seriously need to stop holding ourselves to the standard that this is a thrive time. This is a survive time.
I want to personally congratulate you if you survived today. Even if you had a total and epic emotional meltdown, I congratulate you for surviving the day. Even if you dropped the ball, I congratulate you for surviving the day. Even if today was one of the worst days of your life and will forever go in that unspoken bucket of days that you really showed the worst parts of yourself to the world, I still congratulate you for surviving the day.
We are in a pandemic, where the news is terrifying and our entire sense of normalcy has been upended. The world we knew just two weeks ago is no more – at least for now. So please, I really beg of you, stop trying to hold yourself to a superhuman standard of thriving and just work on surviving first. And not just mentally – though that is so critically important – but physically, too. If you have your physical health, a steady paycheck coming in, and a home with food and water and amenities, believe me – you’re good. You need nothing else right now. So throw away that quarantine to do list. Right now.
Give yourself a break. If the only lesson you, me, and we learn during this crisis is that sometimes keeping our head above water is enough – even if we don’t swim a single stroke – then maybe that’s enough of a lesson right there to make this whole dang thing halfway worth it.
That, and wash your hands.