By Emma Clark
6:35 a.m.: my dog wants to start his day. I don’t. I unplug my phone, roll over and scroll through the notifications that have appeared on my screen since the last time I checked it at 2:15 a.m. I read texts from my best friend, continuing our conversation from last night about how much we miss our home, the fun we used to have and each other.
6:42 a.m.: I open snapchats from friends I haven’t had a real conversation with in weeks, pictures of their faces with no words, I respond with the same thing. Is this friendship?
6:44 a.m.: I cautiously click on a Snapchat message from the guy that somehow is still talking to me even though we won’t be in the same city for at least six more months. I’ve never been good at finding the good ones, but he tells me he wants to date me after this is all over. Yeah, right, like you really want to know the real me. I respond to his 2:00 a.m. thoughts anyway, charming.
6:50 a.m.: I’m lonely.
6:51 a.m.: I check my daily horoscope app, “Why do you set people up to disappoint you?” You’re right, why do I do that? “You’re not a bad person for wanting to be free. Try to remember that everyone’s self-worth moves over peaks and down into… blah, yeah I know, self-worth, self-worth. It also says “power in self and love.” Good one. I turn over, pet my dog, and try to fall back asleep until hopefully 8:00 a.m.
I know I’m lucky. During this Covid19 pandemic, I haven’t been sick, I haven’t lost any of my immediate family or friends and I have a job, a remote form of education, a warm home and food when I want it, not just when I need it. Our whole world is struggling as this virus that humans cannot control seems to be taking over and changing everything we used to know about ourselves and our world.
What I did lose was my life as I knew it and my college senior spring. A few weeks ago, as I read the email from my college president that we wouldn’t be returning to campus I felt my life collapse before my phone screen. I looked at my mom and she knew exactly what I had just read and immediately apologized because she knows how important this time of happiness was for me. I texted “I love you” to my three best friends. Absolutely crushed.
Since I now live with my parents and my brother in the middle of nowhere Connecticut I am reminded daily about how lucky I am. Whether it’s after I complain about how much I need a change to my mom, complaining about going to work in the cold to my dad or it’s those Snapchat friends telling me things could be so much worse, I always end up hearing in one form or another: “You’re lucky”. Yes, I know.
But you need to stop telling me.
Hearing those words just make me feel guilty for feeling real feelings. We are all in a crisis, some of us struggling more with mental health than ever before. I read articles about grief and reflection, and how it is okay to be going through the phases of grief because of losing the routines of our lives. Anxiety and depression are affecting more people throughout the country. But this pain we are feeling is normal, and I know it will get better as things get better.
But if I’m so lucky then why haven’t I slept in days? Why haven’t I been able to complete a simple school assignment in under two hours? Why haven’t I gone two days without having a mental breakdown? Why can I only answer with “alright” when my boss asks me how I am? Why can’t my class graduate the year we are supposed to? Why am I avoiding every Facetime call from everyone I used to be close with? Why did I push another guy out of my life? Why is my horoscope always so negative yet so accurate; and why am I so lonely?
Telling me I’m lucky means that I can’t live the reality of my life, the life that has been twisted upside down for so many people around the world, filled with anxiety and sadness. But to get through it I must live in it, feel all phases of that grief, and find the meaning when I am ready to do so. Stop telling me I’m lucky when I know I am, I’ll get there, just give me time.
1:30 p.m.: My dog jumps onto my bed, finds a comfy spot, and puts his head on my shoulder. He knows.