Today was the day that it hit me, not the scope of the disaster we’re all living through, but the emotions of it. I am just deeply tired and it’s an emotional tired. I’m going through, dealing with the uncertainty, and helping others through it as well, but this is a really big deal for all of us, even if we don’t have a sick relative or haven’t lost our jobs. The world is visibly changing, and we have no idea what the outcome will be.
I have spent much of the last week combing history and listening to prognosticators, all trying to figure out how we emerge from this. There are histories of pandemics, which help, and histories of economic downturns, which help, and histories of disasters, which help, but in none of them are an example of the entire world shutting down its economic production and gearing up to fight a pandemic (or some other kind of war) all in the same month.
In the past, if you were unhappy in, say Berlin, you could figure out how to get to London, where things might be better. If they weren’t better in London, then you could head to New York and hope for something better there.
But right now, all of us are in a similar position: If you don’t like what’s going on where you are, tough. It’s that way everywhere.
I’m seeing glimmers of change and lots of plain old human kindness. People are helping each other in lovely and surprising ways. The acts of kindness are both big and small, and they make me smile. And that doesn’t count the folks on the front lines. They’re doing the very hard work, keeping people alive in difficult circumstances at best.
I don’t need to recap most of this: you’re living through it just like I am.
I’m also watching the outpouring of creativity, from books that people are giving away to free concerts that some musicians are giving over the internet to the way that knitters and crafters are figuring out how to make masks for first responders. It’s all encouraging and enlightening, and if you know of some cool creative stuff that’s new and happening out in the world, please put it in the comments.
I’m collecting all that for a future blog.
But today’s blog is for me, and also for many of you. I’m getting all kinds of email from writers, fretting that they’re getting nothing done or failing to hit their daily goals for the first time in a long time.
I’m writing the same letter back to everyone. Be kind to yourself. We’re going through a huge life event. A major upheaval. We have no idea what our world will look like in July or next year. We can only control what we do, and in some cases, we don’t even have a lot of control over that.
Many of us are experiencing grief. We know the old world is gone, and we’re heading into a new one. For some of us, it’s actual physical grief—we’ve lost a loved one. For others, it’s anticipatory grief—we know that the world will not be the same and we’re mourning what we’ve already lost.
Grieving is a big all-consuming thing. It is also a roller coaster. So you’ll have good days and tough days. You’ll feel “normal” and then you won’t. And, eventually, you’ll get through it.
As I said, it’s been that kind of day for me. We’ve been revamping the business these past two weeks, which has been hard. I’ve been learning a few new skills to cope with some things that have moved online, which is frustrating. And it’s also frustrating not knowing if we can schedule anything for May or even for June, which is hard for me, because I’m a scheduler. It’s one way I find comfort—gaining a tiny bit of control of my future.
So what I’ve been writing to others also applies to me. I’ve been reminding everyone to be kind to themselves. This is a tough time.
It’s a phrase I have used with my grieving friends in the past, and it’s a phrase I’m using now. Be Kind To Yourself. Because there’s no reason to add more pressure.
Yes, you “should be” writing more, since you’re at home, but so many of you are also teaching your kids and dealing with your spouse and worrying about money, and relearning the art of handwashing. You’re worried about your family far away and your friends nearby, whom you can’t really see right now.
That’s a lot of bandwidth. That’s a lot of emotional stuff to keep track of. And even if you’re doing really well—which many of you who contact me are—you’re still burning through more emotions every day than you’re used to.
Be kind to yourself.
Eat well. Walk around the block or the yard. Get a good night’s sleep. Find time to relax by reading something or watching a movie or playing a game. Take some pressure off yourself.
Give yourself permission to have a bad day or a bad hour. Give yourself permission to feel sad or angry or however this is manifesting for you.
It’s tough time right now for all of us.
Word counts don’t matter as much. Deadlines are still important, but not the be-all and end-all of everything.
Enjoy your family if they’re at home with you. Do something fun once in a while.
Be kind to yourself.
Because kindness will get us through this.
And we will get through it. That’s the one thing history does teach. Human beings come through all of these really big deals we find ourselves in. Our worlds change, but we survive.
And that’s a good thing
Now, I’m off to take the rest of the evening and maybe binge on something. Because I’m emotionally tired and ready for this week to end. I’ll be back on it all tomorrow.
But tonight, I need some rest.
And I’ll wager, you do too.
“Business Musings: A Really Big Deal,” copyright © 2020 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Image at the top of the blog copyright © Can Stock Photo / Perkmeup.