During the past couple of days, as more information unfolded, three different types of people emerged out of the woodwork. The first reacted by minimizing, the second reacted by panicking, and the third reacted by staying calm. But make no mistake—each was a reaction.
Whether people like to admit it or not, the majority of us are trying to cope with an underlying level of fear and anxiety right now—albeit varying degrees—because that’s what naturally happens when people are faced with uncertainty. We’re instinctually hardwired to register it as a threat, and ultimately, we all cope differently.
Regardless of what emotion you choose and what works best for you, you are completely entitled to feel the way that you do. Your feelings are valid and unique to your circumstances, and no one should tell you otherwise or attempt to take that away from you. With that being said, there is a time when an inward focus serves us well and a time when an outward and bigger picture lens benefits us more, and I think right now, in our current situation, it’s the latter.
Now, some won’t be able to venture out here with me, and that’s okay. I completely understand. But for those who can, or for those who are willing to try, let’s go.
When I face any struggle or hardship in my life, I usually contemplate the different reasons until I find one that makes me feel a little bit better. Is it trying to teach me something? Is it trying to show me how lucky I am or how I need to have more gratitude? Or is it trying to change my perspective entirely?
I think we have been given an opportunity here, and my angle is this:
When we got in our car yesterday and ventured to the grocery store, I saw a woman waiting at the bus stop with her young baby. I saw a man in the frozen food aisle balancing a couple of boxes while limping on crutches, and I saw an older couple struggling amongst the chaos, completely outside of their element.
I know there are people out there who can’t afford to stockpile because they live paycheck to paycheck or they’re on welfare. I know there are people who are worried that their family may get sick because they might not be able to afford the medical bills.
I know there are people out there who don’t have anyone else to rely on. I know there are single moms with newborn babies and homeless teens. I know there are people who struggle with the day-to-day under normal circumstances, and there are people with mental health conditions who are completely and utterly paralyzed right now.
I know there are people who are worried about their parents because they are older and already have other health issues. I know there are people who have very sick family members across the world who they can’t see, and I know there are people who are genuinely afraid for their own lives right now.
And I also know there are people out there who live with illnesses and diseases every day because they don’t have access to life-saving vaccines. I know there are people who are afraid to fall asleep at night because they constantly worry about the safety of their family due to conflict, wars, and famine.
And I know there are people out there who have known nothing other than uncertainty since the day they were born, with fear and anxiety becoming emotions they know all too well. And I know this mild sense of panic and uneasiness that most of us are feeling right now is nothing in comparison.
So, I think it’s here to teach us about perspective. It’s here to remind us to be grateful and it’s here so we can share in and understand a small portion of what other people go through every single day. And for some reason, in that feeling, in that recognition and reflection, I no longer focus on my own anxieties and worries, but instead I empathize, and that is what makes me feel a little bit better.