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Has COVID-19 Made Kindness the ‘New Normal’?

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No one knew what to expect when the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) starting taking over the globe. “Pandemic” was not a word used frequently in my vocabulary until recently. For me, the word pandemic creates feelings of fear, sadness, anxiety and anger. It stirs up not the only concern for the world, but deeply rooted issues I didn’t realize I had. I am the first to speak up and admit that I struggle with mental illness. I’m not shy to share my experiences with depression or anxiety, but I had a tough time doing so now.

I wanted to write something about how it feels to be a person with mental illness during a pandemic, but it wasn’t possible. I wanted to write about what it looks like seeing those who don’t usually struggle with their mental health, feel the symptoms I feel daily. Then, I wanted to write about how everyone in the world is struggling, and we never know with what, so choose kindness.

I realized I couldn’t focus on one topic, because in reality, they are all cohesive. I can’t pretend that I don’t have anxiety while telling people that’s what they are feeling. But I also can’t sit here and ignore the possibility that this is a chance for us all to step into someone else’s shoes. I mean, look at the state of the world. We live in a world that is all about ourselves — what is best for me, what will benefit me most. But then there is the opposing side pushing for people to start caring for one another. Is there a way to find a happy medium in this pandemic? Is it possible to put ourselves first while also caring for others? I think if we dig deeper, we can. If we’re able to do this, what will our world possibly look like when COVID-19 passes? Imagine this.

We live in a world where kindness and empathy are the new norms. Those who don’t struggle with mental illness can begin to sympathize with those who do. We don’t judge others as quickly or tell them to get over it because we know what it feels like. We all know what it feels like to have our worlds flipped upside down. We’ve been trapped inside before, not knowing when the next time we’ll feel normal is. Our careers changed, some even gone due to events we can’t control. We know the feeling of overwhelming fear or sadness.

What if those who are fighting to take care of themselves permit themselves to care for others too? We recognize that during our path to healing, we may have created hardships for other people in our lives. We can still care about others’ feelings while taking care of our own.

What if, after all this, we begin to shift our world to where it should be? Did it take a pandemic that is claiming the lives of those we love to become more understanding of others? Maybe. Are we now able to see the truth and struggles of others because everything else has been stripped away? Possibly. Why did it take us so long? Who knows, but we’re here now. Maybe, in the midst of the unknown, we begin to love.

Follow this journey on the author’s blog.

For more on the coronavirus, check out the following stories from our community:

Photo by United Nations COVID-19 Response on Unsplash

Originally published: June 7, 2020
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