We are not OK, and that’s OK


Hailey Dirks

Sometimes the light of positivity is hard to find in dark times – and that’s OK.

When I initially set out to write this, we were one week into the shelter-in-place orders and I was feeling productive and positive. I had more time to do things I loved, and I enjoyed the much-needed break. I liked the change of pace; the horrifying effects of COVID-19 still felt far away, not crouching at our doorstep. 

As the weeks have gone on, my perspective has changed. I found myself increasingly more upset and anxious all while telling myself that I shouldn’t be those things because I’m in a privileged situation compared to others. I have seen the preaching on social media, “Our grandparents were called to war. You are being called to sit on the couch. Stay inside,” and “Anne Frank spent years in a tiny attic, and she didn’t even have Netflix. Stop complaining.” Those arguments are legitimate and it is healthy to remind oneself to be humble and remember the horrors of the past. Staying home is not even close to fighting in a war or being hunted and oppressed. 

However, these circumstances are hard. It’s OK to acknowledge that. Feelings and frustrations are valid even when another person’s circumstances are objectively worse than our own because we are all human. Before saying, “I need to be positive,” take a moment to acknowledge the fact that it is OK to be upset because we are navigating a global pandemic and society as we know it has collapsed. Nothing is normal. 

After acknowledging those things, taking steps toward positivity can be helpful for brain health. Forcing yourself to consistently maintain a positive outlook can cause you to struggle to do so. Begin by going outside and getting some vitamin D; that always makes me feel a little better than before. Listen to music and even have a little dance party if that’s your thing. Learn something new every day and read something that isn’t coronavirus related. Drink lots of water and take care of your body. Do something you love. Finally, talk to someone. This quarantine can make us feel more alone than ever, so reaching out to a friend that you’ve been missing can make their day. Practice gratitude and look on the bright side when you can. And when you can’t, acknowledge that and remind yourself it is completely normal when the world is crumbling around you.

Even though this quarantine will last for an indefinite amount of time, it won’t be forever; there is light at the end of the tunnel.