I read a post today by a mom who was feeling bad for her high school senior. This virus has robbed her daughter of the senior year traditions we all take for granted like prom & graduation or maybe even their last high school baseball game or theater production. Another woman commented, “That’s nothing. She’s a kid. She’ll get over it. My son had to cancel his entire wedding.”
Someone else posts about how they’re tired of being home & miss their friends & family. They are quickly vilified by someone who works retail & can’t work from home.
Back up the bus.
Does it suck that someone’s son had to cancel his wedding? Sure does. Does it suck that high school seniors are missing their last days & all of those capstone moments that make up senior year? Absolutely.
As a former retail manager, I feel for every store team member, healthcare worker & delivery person on the front lines. But why does that take away from anyone else’s frustration at being at home?
Listen up, folks: It’s not a competition.
We all get to have our “bad.”
Once again, for the people in the back – We. All. Get. To. Have. Our. Bad.
It takes nothing away from your son’s disappointment & sadness about his wedding if you acknowledge the daughter’s disappointment & sadness about not being able to perform that last play, or dance at prom with her friends.
The retail worker & the person working from home & staring at the same four walls every day are each allowed to feel frustrated & angry & fearful right now.
Even if this weren’t our world today, even when things are “normal,” we all still get to have our bad.
The woman with the toned thighs & amazing abs should get to have days where she feels fat without hearing, “Oh, please! You have nothing to worry about.”
The guy with the terrific head of hair should be able to have a bad hair day without hearing, “You’re lucky you have hair! I have to shave my head because I’m going bald.”
We all get to have our bad. Because what’s bad for one of us may be a walk in the park for someone else. We haven’t lived each other’s lives.
Shortly after I finished radiation, I was talking with someone who had broken a nail & was frustrated & complaining about it. After she walked away, someone else we know who had also come through the other side of breast cancer, looked at me, rolled her eyes & said, “Oh please… she just broke a nail. We’re battling breast cancer.” Well, first of all, my battle’s over. I won. And second, she gets to be upset about her broken nail without it in any way detracting from what we experienced dealing with tatas that were trying to kill us.
When did we get to the point that everything is some type of competition? Your broken nail takes nothing away from my breast cancer. Feel that broken nail like it’s the saddest thing that will ever happen to you. And I hope it is.
Conversely, we all get to have our good, too.
You get to brag on your kid who was accepted to an Ivy League university. It takes nothing away from the pride I feel in my kid who struggled through high school & is now thriving at a community college while she figures out her next move. And I will cheer on your kid & their amazing achievement all day.
You get to have the big house & the great car & be proud of that because you worked your ass off for it. I cheer for you & take pride in the home I have because it’s mine. And I worked damn hard for it too.
Right now the world’s turned upside down (cue “Hamilton”). We’re all dealing with it the best we can – even if it means that we feel like we’re falling apart sometimes. Let’s have a little grace & kindness for one another. Let’s acknowledge that we will all respond differently to the same situation.
Right now, maybe more than ever, let’s not discount what we’re feeling. We can give our love & gratitude to everyone who is on the frontlines & exposed to this threat daily. And we can do that without belittling what WE’RE feeling. No more “I can’t complain. I’m not facing sick people every day.” You CAN complain. You CAN acknowledge that you’re feeling scared & lonely & confused.
And you can feel that way while cheering on someone else.
Lean into those feelings. And maybe, more importantly, let everyone around you lean into theirs.
Because the only way to get to the other side of this is to go through it.