“Surrendering is not letting off hope, it is making peace with the present situation or acceptance of what is happening …”Shareh Wanjau
We are coming to a conclusion to the fact that the pandemic situation will last longer perhaps than we possibly anticipated or what we were told. There are a lot of emotions, mental challenges and lifestyle drift that come with that. And there are lots of people around me that I know and some in my own like; normally they have no issues with motivation or positive energy as some may call it. Feeling apathetic, feeling zero motivated, feeling helpless. Others feel that they should be super productive at times when they are like five times busy. And more so the anxiety that we feel, anger, uncertainty that we may feel either consciously or unconsciously is a lot more draining. And many of us wonder “why do I feel tired when actually I am doing almost nothing productive?”
And when I go through the social media, I come across these random comments such as; why are people making this such a big deal? Am not feeling bad at all”, ‘this is the best time ever”, “what are people worried?”, “Is this bad?”, or “am enjoying this time”. I find these comments emotionally numb to the situation, some of us are in denial of the emotional experiences with the situation or lack of empathy.
Yesterday I was on a run and I came by this open small restaurant in my neighborhood; it is small but always busy in the normal days. The hotel was empty so I stand by the door;
Hotelier: good evening, kindly wash your hands and feel free to take a seat. Unajua siku hizi hakuna kusalimiana na mkono na vile sisi waKenya twapenda salamu
(you know these days handshake is as lethal and we Kenyans love handshakes)
Me: (after the hand wash) ata sikuwa niketi, nimeona mmefungua na masaa ya curfew inakaribia nikafikiria niingie nione nini mnauza
(it was just passing by and I noticed an open restaurant and the curfew hour is approaching, so I thought it is good I see what you have)
Hotelier: we are trying and still making things. We may have everything you may need from breakfast snacks, food, and drinks. We are also offering outside catering with free delivery to your homes, if you want it customized you can just place your order by call, email or message.
As I hear this guy talk, my heart breaks because businesses like these are usually hard to manage even when they are easy and even when everything is good and on normal days. And when I remember the comments people say we have this or there are people, who are having it worse,’ this is the greatest time ever’. I get a lot more frustrated when someone expresses their emotion or mental situation amid pandemic and the comments below are reminding how they should be grateful and so on. But we have to allow people their truth, their suffering and acknowledge humanity.
This will not be a marathon, we are going to have next week and the week after, next month and probably the month after and if you push harder, you may experience burnout before we get halfway through. We have to set more modest ideas, for mental health, our physical well-being, our loved ones and the community. I don’t claim to have this figured out, but I have been helpless before, below are some of the ideas I think can help deal with the confusing emotions;
Surrendering is not letting off hope, it is making peace with the present situation or acceptance of what is happening. Part of this is a problem that we cannot fix and thus making you uncomfortable. Whenever you feel the urge to fight back, imagine yourself like this child who is angry because the parent denies her sweets, she cries kicks and all sorts of things but still the parent does not bother. Soon she gives in after realizing there is nothing else to do. We all going to have our screaming and kicking moments, but it is good when we finally surrender and be okay with the situation.
In contrast, hope is always a good thing in a situation like this. It is good to be hopeful that maybe a few weeks from now everything will be back to normal. But by now we know that everything that we are being told is just as an estimate. No one knows what to happen next or when this lock-down will be over. The goal post of when this is going to end keeps being moved and living in hope at the moment of when the whole thing changes or gets to normal stops you from making peace with the moment. It keeps you in a perpetual waiting for life, “I will be happy when all this is over”, “I will do this when things get back to normal”. And when the authority figure says, they will push the terms to another time, the reaction to that is a huge pain, anguish, and disappointment.
2. Focus on the emotional and not circumstantial component
The circumstantial component of the pandemic varies from a person to another. It can be loss of a job, lack of mobility freedom or a breakup, whereby you may have little to no influence or power to manipulate.
The emotional component is the bigger part and you may have the power or be in a position to manipulate. When you look at the whole situation as an enemy, you might feel bitter and depressed, more so you may develop stress or anxiety. It is here and already happening, the situation you are in, accept it as an old friend and a companion. Yesterday was a social distancing, loneliness or quarantine, so it is today, tomorrow, possibly next week. Just make friends with it.
3. Place pain in a larger context
You can take this experience as a lesson teaching you on something in the future, you can use this opportunity as a time to learn some new skills. We may never have this ever in the lifetime. Not that it is a good thing, but we can utilize it. It is a different kind of pain reminding us humans from whenever we are that we are adaptable. Maybe you have never learned how to be adaptable and this is the time to learn and realize how adaptable you can be and nothing wrong with this.
Always interested in your experiences, comments and thoughts….