You Can't Pour From An Empty Cup

This post was originally published on on 4/4/2020.

The world is different now. In just a few short weeks, things have changed drastically. One of those changes is that millions of people have all the extra time in the world on their hands. That has led to several posts, memes, and articles talking about how much can be done while we are “all” at home “doing nothing”. One meme talks about Shakespeare writing King Lear while quarantined during the plague. And apparently Sir Isaac Newton invented both calculus & gravity (if you take what the internet says as fact – this is highly debated as to when exactly these concepts were truly “invented”) during quarantine, as well.

But times are different now than during the plague. For one thing, we are being constantly inundated by facts and figures, comparing COVID-19 to everything from the Spanish flu pandemic, to the plague, to, yes, just another hoax. We are constantly being notified of another press conference, wondering what changes, what new revelations about the virus this one will bring, wondering what the newest death tolls will be. This alone is enough to give a “normal” person a panic attack. The impact that all of this noise has on someone who already struggles with mental health, can be devastating. And then add to that this new societal pressure to “level up” and make these world changing achievements like Shakespeare and Newton? It can be too much to bear.

If you are feeling that pressure, that dread, that next panic attack just waiting, reaching for you, I want you to know that you are not alone. And that you don’t have to buy into this idea that is being sold to you right now. For years, society has been programming us to believe that if we are not busy, we are lazy. And now that more people than ever are forced to have that free time on their hands, they want us again to believe that we are lazy if we are not achieving something “great”.

But here’s the thing. Getting out of bed during a pandemic IS achieving something great. Showering, brushing your teeth, making sure you eat. All of these things are an achievement during this crisis. These are not normal times. For some people, yes, they will achieve something that might change the world. But that doesn’t make your achievement of simply getting out of bed less important, less memorable. Because, let me be clear, YOU are important. Just you. Not because of your achievements. Not because of your societal contributions. Not because of how much money you make, or how much you get accomplished today, or during the foreseeable future until this pandemic ends. YOU are important just as you are, and just because you are you, and just because no one else can fill your place in the world.

So please, take off that perceived pressure. Not everyone will understand. But that is their problem, that is their defect, NOT yours. Take care of yourself first. And, if you can’t even get out of bed today, don’t beat yourself up for that either. Applaud yourself for recognizing your own needs and providing for yourself and your mental health in the best way that you are able. And remember, you are not alone. You are not the only one feeling this way. There are thousands of other people who are struggling too. And thousands who care about you, and are sending love your way.

Take care of yourself, my friends.

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