Relax and Breathe

If you’ve been on social media at all, you’ve probably seen the meme that says something along the lines of, “If you don’t come out of this time of quarantine with a new skill, new hobby, or your side hustle launched, it was never a question of time, it was a question of discipline.”

That meme brings up so much frustration and anger in me. Not for myself as much as for the people who see it and believe that they are, in fact, undisciplined failures because of what someone on social media says.

Here’s the thing. This is a time unlike anything any of us have ever lived through. Some of us are worried about losing our jobs; some have already lost them. Some are struggling to take care of children while working from home–and having to become teachers on top of it. We don’t know how long this will last. We don’t know whether we’re going to get sick. We don’t know what the short or long-term effects will be.

And with all of that uncertainty, fear, and struggle, we’re somehow supposed to be able to corral our brains to learn new things and build new businesses? Um… okay, I’ll refrain from profanity here.

Many of us, if not most of us, are living through trauma right now. Trauma causes mental and physical effects, including loss of concentration, memory issues, and exhaustion. Some of us are absolutely able to say, “Oh, yay, free time, let’s do ALL THE THINGS!” But a lot of us are barely able to say, “Okay, I’m going to take a shower and get dressed now.”

And that is OKAY. It is completely okay to not be able to learn new skills and build your side hustle right now. It is okay if you are just managing to get out of bed and put on something resembling clothing in the morning.

Not being able to learn new things and build your business right now does not mean you are undisciplined. It means you are struggling to live in an experience you have never lived in before, surrounded by others who have also never lived through anything like this. It means that you need your time, energy, and stamina to get through the day-to-day pieces of this current “normal,” and you don’t have anything left over for the extras.

It isn’t a question of discipline at all. It’s a question of priorities. Right now, for many of us, the priority is surviving. Everything else can wait.

Take care of yourself, and let go of whether you’re “supposed to be” doing all the things right now. The only thing you need to do is breathe, rest, and trust that this will get better.

Shine Your Light

I recently responded to a post on Facebook from someone close to me, who said they were considering changing a part of how they act because they were so tired of people judging them and putting them down. This is what I said, in part, in response to their post:

“Some people have nothing better to do than tear down others to make themselves feel better. Live YOUR life, not theirs. Smile if you want to smile. Wear what you want to wear. They’re trying to put out a light that scares the f*** out of them. You’ve worked your ass off to overcome things that have happened in your life, and that terrifies the people who aren’t brave enough to do the work. So they have to make you feel like you’re less than them…because the reality is, you’re far, far more. Ignore them as much as you can. Feel compassion for them. *They* are the ones with the problems.”

That can be a hard thing to learn. If you’re constantly bullied and insulted, whether it’s about your physical appearance or your personality or your clothes or whatever, it wears you down. Sometimes it does just seem easier to back down, because at least then maybe they’ll leave you alone.

But I’ve found through personal experience that a lot of times, what I said in that Facebook comment is true. People fear what they don’t understand, and get angry at what they fear. People who look down on themselves can’t understand how someone can choose not to be part of the crowd. They see someone strong, confident, and powerful, and sometimes that frightens them. Sometimes it infuriates them because they don’t believe they can be the same way.

I’ve been approached by people who bullied me in school, or stood by while others bullied me. They’ve told me they were jealous or envious of what they saw as my total lack of fear to be myself. They admired me, but didn’t want to admit it. They were intimidated by me.

I wish they hadn’t been. I’m not all that intimidating, and I would happily have been their friend. Instead, I hid my light under piles and piles of detritus, all the result of bullying and other things I experienced. I didn’t dare show that light at all, because obviously it was a bad thing to have.

Now I dare. Now I know that light is what makes me who I am, and helps me to help other people. I refuse to hide it anymore. The person whose post I commented on has been keeping their light very visible for a long while now, and I hope they don’t choose to start hiding it.