Hey, how are you?
I’m not asking this question in the usual way we ask. You know, when the answer is always “I’m fine, how are you?” Really, I want to know how are YOU doing?
Me? How am I doing?
I’m going to be honest and vulnerable with you and say that this whole “self-isolation” and “social distancing” thing is hitting me a lot harder than I thought. I know I am not the only one.
Like many other teens, I spent my March Break at home. Alone. (sorry Mom and Dad, it’s not that you don’t count, but when I say ‘alone’ I mean without hanging out with my friends.)
It was supposed to be my March break – and it didn’t go exactly as I planned and we have no idea when we will go back to school, work, the movies, the mall, the park, the gym. But you guys, I’m trying, I’m really trying to stay positive as much as I can. I’m a bit of a news junkie, but I’ve really limited how much I watch or read these days. It can feel a bit like you’re watching a movie instead of the actual news and for me that’s a sign to back away and watch an actual movie.
However, I did hear something that a doctor said on the news the other day that shifted my perspective a lot. He was urging us to think of this situation as physical distancing rather than social distancing. Hearing that really shifted my perspective and it made me realize that in many ways, this is an opportunity. This situation – this physical distancing – has strengthened my passion for community and connecting with others. This still matters, and maybe matters even more, in a time where we cannot physically be together. I believe that the only way we are going to get through this happy and healthy is by social connecting over physical distancing.
I’m also seeing the many ways that this is all bringing us together. I have seen countless videos and threads on social media that show that. A whole block singing happy birthday for someone 30 feet away, people celebrating birthdays with friends and families on Zoom, young people bringing groceries to the elderly that are not supposed to leave their house for any reason, musicians doing mini-concerts from their living rooms to Instagram and entire neighbourhoods in Italy and Israel singing songs of hope on their balconies. Today I read an article sharing that hundreds of mental health workers are offering free therapy to Ontario’s frontline COVID-19 medical workers. These are all examples of an incredibly bad situation bringing out the incredibly best in so many.
In making the best of the circumstances, we (the big we that we are as a community or even a society) are learning what we are capable of and I think that it is amazing. I think that what we are seeing is that we are more of all the good things than we could have imagined – we are more compassionate, we are more creative, we are more interested and we are more social.
I have always advocated for the positive power of technology and my belief that it can change the world. Now more than ever, we are seeing that technology is one of the best tools to help all of us get through this ever difficult situation. For me personally, I’ve taken the opportunity to reconnect with people I haven’t talked to in a while or that I don’t talk to as often as I would like. I am also making it a point to text less and talk more. I am realizing how much I miss seeing people’s faces and I am using Facetime or Zoom to talk to people one-on-one and group chats. So much fun.
It’s at this time that we remember to be connected and be compassionate. That’s as simple as checking in with the people around you and saying “how are you?” and truly listening to them. Don’t forget to also check in and call people that are vulnerable to say hello and see if they need anything. There is always something that you can do to help someone else – even from the comfort of our own home (and couch).
If you can find it in yourself to be grateful (and maybe even excited) for the free time you have, use it to learn something or do something you have always wanted to do “if only you had the time.”
Read from the pile of books on your nightstand. Listen to that podcast. Learn to play guitar. Write in a journal. Draw. Do a 1000 piece puzzle. Play a board game. Binge. Make a playlist. Find people that inspire you on Instagram and follow them (extra points for engaging with them).
Take an online class. Get outside and walk your dog. Set up a zoom call with all of your cousins (those ones that you only see on the holidays). Learn how the timer feature on your phone works to take selfies (see below). If you really want to make your mom happy, clean your room.
That being said, it is completely ok and we all should feel ALL the feels. Bottling up and pushing down our feelings will not help the situation we are in. It will only make things worse for you. Just as we should check in with other people, we should check in with ourselves and allow others to be there for us.
Social connecting over physical distancing. The only way we are going to get through this is together.