By Holly Branam, Youth First, Inc.
We are living in a unique time in history. Schools have been closed, events are cancelled and businesses are just now beginning to reopen their doors. We have experienced the loss of so many familiar things. Routines have changed and aspects of our lives are delayed indefinitely.
Although we are going through this pandemic together, our individual experiences are vastly different. Some of us are working outside the home, some are working inside the home and some have lost their jobs.
We may be overwhelmed juggling work and educating/entertaining our children or isolated, living alone, and desperate for human contact. There are some individuals who have directly experienced the loss of a loved one or reside in areas where the virus has spread quickly, while others are living in areas that have barely been affected.
As we begin the process of returning to a new normal, each person is going to have an opinion on the right way to move forward. There will be varying levels of comfort based on our individual experiences and location. My sister lives in a large city that has been greatly affected and plans to shelter in place for months, possibly. However, I live in a small town with less than a handful of cases and feel more comfortable venturing out.
As we begin to make plans for the future, my sister and I have started talking about what we are individually comfortable doing and have agreed to respect each other’s opinions no matter how different they may be. We love each other and value our relationship. That connection and support is more important than our individual opinions.
As humans, we were created to be in community with each other, and supportive relationships help us cope. Social media and a variety of other online options have made connecting possible during this difficult situation, and I feel blessed that we live in a time where this is possible.
Unfortunately, as I scroll through social media I am saddened and discouraged by the unkind posts I see. We need each other, and unkind words only work to separate us. Our energy is wasted on panic, blame, regret or anger. So instead, let’s focus our energy on kindness, caring, giving, and sharing.
These feelings of uncertainty won’t last forever, but the words we speak to others can have a lasting impact. As we move forward there is so much to be done. People are in need and we can put our compassion into action. We can spread kindness, listen to others, offer support, provide comfort and encourage one another.
We need to come out on the other side of this mentally healthy as well as physically healthy. We can’t control the choices others make, and trying to do so only creates frustration and distance. So let’s let go of what we can’t control and give each other a little more grace.
I was playing a game with my daughter the other day. She wasn’t sure if the number she was looking at was a 6 or a 9, and I realized that perspective is everything. Frequently we see things differently depending on how we are oriented to the world around us. Beyond our current situation, we have a lifetime of experiences and beliefs that have shaped us.
We will all have different ways to process and handle stress and change. Let’s begin to be aware of how our words and actions affect others and try to understand their perspective. We can find peace by reminding ourselves that people are imperfect and are doing the best they can with what they know.
Someday we may look back on this time and have all the answers, but right now we are just trying to make our way through. We are in uncharted waters, so let’s be kind. Together we can make a difference.