Alone, But Not Lonely

I slept like a log last night. 

Which is pretty incredible considering we’re in the midst of a global pandemic, on top of which, those of us in Utah experienced a 5.7 magnitude earthquake yesterday, oh and the fact that I’m six months pregnant and generally can’t sleep for more than two consecutive hours without a pee break. 

But I did wake up at 2:30 a.m. with this message in my brain, so I wrote it down first thing. 

Alright. Times are crazy scary. That’s no joke. What started as a “this feels blown out of proportion” vibe very rapidly became a “this is actually terrifying and people should take it more seriously” vibe. 

And now here we are, with seemingly the entire world shut down and cancelled. And we’re feeling it. Hard. 

Sure, we’re all experiencing it in different ways, but we’re all very much experiencing it, and that’s what I want you to focus on today. 

The last couple weeks have been incredibly heavy. As a Walgreens cashier, my mom has been yelled at almost daily by ungrateful people who are angry with her for being out of hand sanitizer or toilet paper. People have lost loved ones and couldn’t hold a funeral. People’s weddings and honeymoons have been cancelled. People’s recitals and plays and championship games called off. I have friends who have delivered babies in uncertainty, and friends who work in healthcare, putting the needs of others ahead of their own at the very real risk of being exposed to the coronavirus.

None of these things are insignificant. Sure, maybe some of them matter less in the grand scheme of things, but they’re things that are important in our daily lives, which are currently turned upside down, so it’s okay to be upset about them. 

But what we can’t do right now is become victims. Yes, we can feel angry and sad and hurt. Yes, we deserve time to grieve the things we’ve worked for and lost or looked forward to and had swept out from under us. But we can’t let those things steal our joy entirely. 

If we let ourselves be overcome by the sadness and panic, we’ll fall apart. There’s still so much to be positive about. I know it may not seem like it, and it’s really easy right now to name all the negative things. There are plenty. But succumbing to those feelings isn’t going to do any of us any good. 

We can’t control our circumstances, but we can control our attitudes. 

I know, easier said than done, right? But it’s true. 

That doesn’t mean you can’t take a moment, an hour, or even a day to sit alone and scream or cry out your frustrations, sadness, and fear. You just can’t let them beat you. 

I read a cool post this week where people were sharing their highs and lows in the midst of this chaos, and I’d encourage you to think about this, too. 

My personal low was realizing after months of planning and excitement with my friends, I’m not going to get to fly home to Oklahoma and celebrate Baby W with all my friends and family who I only get to see a couple times a year as it is. An indefinite postponement on meeting my friends’ babies, on hugging everyone, on baby bump pictures, on silly games and cute cookies. But mostly the getting to celebrate such a major milestone in my life with the people I love most. It broke my heart, honestly. I spent an entire day crying for myself and my friends whose baby showers aren’t going to happen.

But my high has been the constant communication with all my best friends. The shared emotions (10 of my friends are pregnant right now – and a few more have newborns!), so we’re all over the place hormonally. But talking through feelings with them, sharing our scary moments, and knowing without a doubt that we’re all praying for each other and encouraging each other in this unprecedented time has been so unbelievably uplifting and life giving.  

So what I want you to hold onto here is that you’re not alone in this. It’s perhaps the only experience of our lifetime that is truly being experienced globally. Every person on the planet is impacted. And while our problems are significant in our own lives, they’re also minimal compared to the many gifts and blessings we’ve been given. 

If you and your families are healthy, consider yourself lucky today. If you get to step outside today, in the sunshine or in the rain, count it as a blessing. I’m not suggesting we all take the “it could be worse” route. That’s always true and there will always be people dealing with bigger and harder things than you. So try not to compare or think of it like that. Just be grateful for what you do have today. Every little thing. 

And when you’re feeling down, be thankful for technology that allows us to “social distance” pretty dang easily. Being alone doesn’t have to equate to being lonely. Talk to your friends and family. Remember that it’s okay to laugh and tell jokes. Share funny memes. Say one thousand prayers over each other. Send a hundred text messages and video chats. Eat weird mishmash meals compiled of what’s been sitting in your pantry for months. Bake cookies. Cookies are always a good idea. Play board games. Drink wine if you can. Eat ice cream if you can’t. 

Don’t let these dire circumstances get the best of you. We’re in this together and if we keep fighting our way through it, we’ll make it out better and stronger than ever.

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