I saw a quote the other day about how we’re all in the same boat when it comes to this pandemic. To know everyone around the globe is in this together during this time is pretty powerful when you think about it. But while we’re all in the same boat, I want to call attention to the fact that these uncharted waters are affecting us all in different ways. We’re experiencing varying feelings, thoughts, situations, and hardships.
With everything this virus has brought on, there is a deep sense of loss. Loss of life undoubtedly, but also loss of normalcy, safety, and control. It’s even been said that it feels a lot like grief.
We’ve never been faced with a global pandemic that’s halted how we live our lives. Life as we know it has changed. We’re being told to social distance and shelter in place for long periods of time, something that comes unnaturally to us as social creatures. Workers are losing their jobs and worried about when their next paycheck will come. Entrepreneurs are making the difficult decision to shutter their businesses. Families are being forced to separate for the immediate future. The sick are fighting for their lives. Healthcare workers are doing everything they can to save those lives. Loved ones are dying alone. There’s so much happening that it can weigh heavy.
For me, I’m fortunate to still have my job and have the ability to work from home. There are no major life events happening for me personally that are risk of being postponed or canceled. I haven’t lost anyone I know personally due to the virus. I remind myself of all of this every day and I definitely don’t take that lightly. Perspective has kept me honest and I’ve reminded myself that my situation could be so much worse. But just because I’m not being directly affected by the coronavirus doesn’t mean that I’m not struggling or not feeling the negative effects of it.
I’m feeling a deep sense of helplessness and sadness. I’m an empath by nature so watching the news, hearing stories of those who have lost their lives or their jobs, and talking to family and friends who have been affected in some way overwhelms me emotionally more than I tend to let on. My anxiety has come back in waves over the last few weeks, forcing me to face it and figure out how to cope with it as best as I can during these uncertain circumstances. I also started a new role at my company last month and jumped from 11 clients to 108. I’m working more hours now than I did prior to this pandemic, feeling a kind of pressure I haven’t felt in years. I’m navigating new processes, difficult client conversations, and many unknowns, as the team I joined is net-new and we’re building it from the ground up. There are days I feel submerged underwater and am doing everything I can to get afloat and catch my breath.
And then the guilt pulls me down farther and washes over me time and time again, shaming me for feeling the emotions that I have. You don’t have a right to feel this way, it screams. The guilt compounded a few weeks ago especially when someone responded to me on social media about my anxiety and told me how lucky I should be that I can work and stay at home. I already felt terrible but that set me over the edge.
But through conversations with my friends (including those who have been furloughed), they’ve reminded me that regardless of the situation I’m in, it doesn’t mean my feelings are any less valid. My friend, Katy, said something in particular that struck me so hard that I had to share: “𝙬𝙚 𝙙𝙤𝙣’𝙩 𝙢𝙖𝙠𝙚 𝙝𝙞𝙚𝙧𝙖𝙧𝙘𝙝𝙞𝙚𝙨 𝙤𝙛 𝙬𝙝𝙤 𝙝𝙖𝙨 𝙞𝙩 𝙬𝙤𝙧𝙨𝙚.” We are all struggling in our own ways and nobody else’s struggles should make yours feel less than. We’re allowed to be disappointed about the canceled trip. We’re allowed to be sad about the wedding or celebration that is postponed. We’re allowed to feel overwhelmed because of work or taking care of the kids. We’re allowed to be angry about the people who aren’t taking this seriously. We’re allowed to grieve over the fact that we can’t be together with our families and friends.
Regardless of your situation, your feelings matter and you have every right to process them and go through them. While it’s important to have gratitude for what we have, that doesn’t mean we should ignore our feelings. And we shouldn’t shame ourselves – or others – for feeling a certain way either. We need to be aware that we’re all going through different waves and that more than anything, we need compassion at a time like this.
We’ll get through this – together.
Kelly Nash is a Chicago-based writer, career coach, speaker and founder of Lipstick & Ink®. She also works full-time in technology as a Role Strategy and Employee Engagement Manager at Salesforce and has over 12 years of digital marketing experience. Kelly has been featured in Thrive Global, Chicago Tribune, International Association of Women, General Assembly, Salesforce, and SheFactor. She’s fueled by black coffee, sunshine, a good ink pen, and a bold lip.