Hey, are you hanging in there? I am, but barely it seems.
Part of me really loves that the slowed pace of life has become a theme for the year, but the depths of my soul are begging for some sense of normalcy. As someone who struggles with severe anxiety, every situation feels heavily weighted with the stress of expectations. Both the expectations I have for myself, and the ones imposed on us from all different schools of belief.
When I go to the store, I’m judged as a sheep because I choose to wear a mask. But if I didn’t, I would be judged as selfish. If I follow the rules, I’m judged as a mindless pawn in the government’s power play. If I oppose the rules, I am a petty patriot. If I send my kids in person to school, I am risking their health and safety, but if I keep them home to learn, I am hindering their education and social lives. If I protest for racial justice, I must support violence and rioting. If I don’t say anything, then I’m as guilty as the offender that sparked the outrage. If I spent my stimulus check, I’m irresponsible and should have planned better. If I saved it, then I didn’t do my part to keep the local economy growing. If I go out to dinner with friends, then I am too lax. If I stay home unless necessary, I am too strict. If I fill my children’s daily schedule with activities, I’m an overachiever and not allowing my kids to be kids. If I let them go with the flow, then I am a lazy parent.
And the list goes on for miles.
I definitely have struggled with extending grace this year, for myself and towards others. With tensions so high, plus increased social media usage, people have been making their opinions on virtually every topic clearly known. It makes it hard to see people you know in the real world in the same light as before. I’m sure there are many out there who have felt that way toward me and that is another failed expectation that weighs on my mind.
When I feel myself sinking into a judgmental, moral-high horse headspace, I have been trying to remember that none of us have lived through an experience like this before. We all have fears, even if they’re rooted in different ideologies. Whether you’re afraid for the health of your loved ones, the loss of your freedoms, the unknown, or even Murder Hornets, the common denominator is that we want to protect ourselves and the people we love the most in the best way we know how. If we can manage to tone down our defensiveness for even a moment, maybe we could start seeing each other as humans again. If we could stop looking at people in black and white, right and wrong, good and evil, we could recognize that life and people are compiled of a little bit of both extremes and balances out somewhere in the middle.
It can be difficult to consider the needs and feelings of other people when we are in self-preservation mode, but we really need each other right now — even if that may be in new, creative ways. I wish I had a brilliant way to wrap this up, but I don’t.