The quarantine has given me ample opportunity to connect with more friends, and I love it. However, I’ve been noticing a trend in the conversations I’ve been having. We discuss the different ways in which the quarantine has been impacting our lives, and everyone comes back to the same line: “I hate to say it like this, but…” or “This sounds horrible, but…” or “I know I should be grateful, but…”
I spoke to one friend who was understandably worried about her financial situation, as her husband was laid off from the oil industry. She didn’t feel comfortable complaining because “at least my family is still healthy.” Another friend is a teacher who is overwhelmed with the virtual instruction that has become the new normal. She felt awful for griping because “I still have a paying job when others do not.” As for me, I really miss my biweekly manicures and dining out. That doesn’t make me spoiled or ungrateful. I know I have much to be thankful for, and I wholly appreciate it all. However, I have decided to stop feeling guilty about the ways in which the quarantine has impacted my life. My problems, however trivial they may seem comparatively, are still very real problems for me. The little things were meaningful to me, and to have them abruptly taken away is jarring. We were all thrust into this new way of living, a major change for which we could not prepare; we’re all suffering from voids that cannot be filled right now. Could it be worse? Absolutely. But that’s not the point. Plenty have it worse, and plenty have it better, but our experiences can occur together without taking away from one another. There is enough room for all of us to mourn and express our frustration.
You don’t have to add that “but…” part. Process all your feelings free of guilt, and make room for others to do the same. You can stop apologizing. That doesn’t make you ungrateful or selfish or devoid of empathy. I do mourn the loss of the little things but simultaneously acknowledge that my family has been blessed in this time, and we are supporting others and paying kindness forward in many ways. This is one of those times when you can have it both ways.