Since the coronavirus outbreak changed the world and plunged Australia into economic downturn and chaos, I have taken to writing to get through it more than usual. This is one such piece I wrote for the Freelance Jungle group after one too many conversations about how we’re not allowed to acknowledge the chaos and the pain we’re in.
Coronavirus- or the associated economic impacts or the burn out you currently feel due to being on the frontline- is not a suffering contest.
I have been hearing so many stories of major change from people. Stories of lost clients, dried up work, invoices being late, fear of your own or family member’s vulnerability to the virus, concern, stress, worry, overwork- a whole mix of issues.
And it’s real pain in the face of real change. Pain that could last 6 or 12 months.
Then…the vulnerable moment turns to shame. And the words turn away from that pain to an acknowledgment of privilege or how bad you don’t have it in relation to someone else.
“At least I am healthy”
“At least I have my home”
“We can survive on my partner’s wage”
“Things could be worse”
And so it goes as you compare yourself to every category of someone else doing it tougher you can think of.
It’s OK to be sad and stressed. It’s OK to grieve a business you love being broken and interfered with in this way. It’s OK to acknowledge you face overwork and burn out because your job has increased load. It’s OK to say that you are finding it hard to adjust to the idea of not having choices, independence or finances to call your own.
It’s OK to say it hurts that only a few months ago, you had grand plans, a sparky tail and ideas that never ever really dreamed of this sort of reality.
You have lost something. We all have. We’ve lost jobs, security, consistency, routine, things we rely on like schools, our ability to connect socially, certainty about our futures, control over our working lives, time to endless phone calls trying to make sense of the mess etc. We’re also anxious because two vital things in human existence- our financial situation and our health- have been dramatically altered now or may face that in the near future.
That brings grief and it’s OK to acknowledge that grief. To feel it for a little while and explore it. To validate it is to bring about healing. You can’t enable a good coping strategy if you deny yourself the ability to recognise that yes, things have changed, yes it hurts and no, where you thought you would be this year has dramatically changed.
That doesn’t make you ungrateful or selfish. Or a bad person. It doesn’t make you unworthy of those feelings.
It makes you human.
This is not a competition. Your suffering is valid.
It’s OK to be scared. And it’s OK to be sad, too.
Show yourself some compassion and understand it will take you time to get over the shock and get your head around the new reality.
Be kind to you. And remember…
Yes, it does suck. but we’re in this together.