As a creator, sometimes I write blog posts and content that I know will do well; tutorials, clothing hauls, and how-to’s. And then there are times that I write about what no one wants to read because I have a responsibility to do so – this is one of those.
Staying in. Social distancing. Self-isolating. Being quarantined. Whatever you want to call it, it’s a term that won’t be quickly forgotten. I’m looking forward to watching one of those “decade rewind” shows and seeing all the Coronavirus memes that took over in 2020. I can’t wait until this becomes a topic for sketch comedy to say funny things like “remember when we all bought 6 months worth of toilet paper because we thought we were going to die.” But that day is not today.
Today, we’re all still stuck at home, wondering what’s going to happen next. But here’s what most people don’t realize: what happens next is directly affected by what each of us chooses to do right now.
I’m not a scientist or a doctor, and I won’t pretend to be. This virus doesn’t make any more sense to me than anyone else – but what does make sense to me is the guidance, suggestions, and now orders from the CDC and local governments to stay home.
Yesterday’s news hit me with a hard statistic to swallow: in order for us to flatten the curve, 50-70% of us need to be following the social distancing guidelines. When you open up your social media, are more than half of your friends at home staying in? Because while I have a lot of really committed, responsible friends – I also still see a swarm of friends boarding airplanes, discussing keeping their spring break plans, having “corona parties”, and more.
I’ve also seen a tons of posts asking “why we have to follow these guidelines if we’re young and healthy”? There’s even a few conspiracy theorists, questioning whether or not we’re making too big of a deal out of this.
Can I take a second to directly answer those questions, from a very non-scientific standpoint? Can I tell you what you need to hear right now?
I’m selfish – really selfish. I grew up as an only child, I’ve worked for myself, from home, for the past 6 years. If there’s anyone who understands playing by your own rules, it’s me. But this is the time to grow up and realize that the world is so much bigger than you. You have a responsibility, an obligation even, to look out for the other people in your society. That’s what it means to be a good human.
You might be young and healthy, but your parents or grandparents might not be. This is a humbling reminder that we don’t know everything about everyone. Being immunocompromised doesn’t always look a certain way. It might be easy to pick out the elderly man who totes around his oxygen tank, but what about the woman who fought for her life in a battle with cancer? Her hair may have grown back, but her immune system might still be compromised. Do you know every person’s story? Because it’s very possible that your friends, neighbors, and even family members have experienced something that you don’t about; in fact, they might not even know about it. If Uncle Fred hates going to the doctor, how would you know if it’s really just “heartburn” or “gas”?
There’s a chance that your suspiscions are correct; that this virus won’t do you much harm personally, since you’re young and healthy. Side note; there’s also a chance you’re wrong, since world class scientists and doctors still haven’t learned all the data or details on this, but it’s your life, so it’s yours to gamble with. However, what’s not your is the life of someone’s parent. Their grandparent. Their best friend. Their sibling. Their son or daughter. Can you honestly say that you want to have a direct impact on someone’s physical well-being, potentially their life, because you didn’t want to miss your spring break trip?
Are we making too big of a deal out of this? There are over 10,000 people waking up this morning without their loved ones who would probably say no, no we’re not. They’re not staying in their homes today because of obligation or quarantine; they’re staying in to grieve.
The rest of us should count ourselves lucky that the only thing we have to say goodbye to is our weekend and travel plans. It took me a long time to learn that pretending something doesn’t exist doesn’t make it go away. This is where we’re at right now – it’s not the year that any of us would have hoped for, but it’s here none-the-less. Here in Chicago, the restaurants and bars have been closed for almost a week. Last night, all of California was ordered to “shelter-in-place”, (which means they should only be leaving their homes for necessities). Even if you disregard all of the medical statistics and still don’t believe this virus can affect you and your loved ones, the lawmakers do. I mentioned that statistic earlier; 50-70% of Americans need to comply with social distancing in order for us, and more importantly, the lawmakers, to see positive results. If we don’t, we’ll continue to see more steps being taken. This time can be spent positivity and doesn’t need to be stretched out.
Even if you don’t know someone who’s sick, elderly, or immunocompromised, we all know someone that wants to live their life normally again. That someone is probably you. The longer we see groups of people not complying with social distancing, the longer this goes on. It’s March – for most of us, it’s still cold, rainy, snowy, and boring anyway. But spring is officially here, and all the fun you’ve been waiting for all winter is on the horizon.
The coming months are typically filled with proms, graduations, weddings, family vacations, festivals, parades, baseball games, cook-outs, picnics, and reunions. Please, stay inside now so that we can all get out and enjoy those things soon.
Our local businesses depend on the support of their consumers, and right now, supporting them means staying inside. Each day that our favorite restaurants have to remain closed is a day without profit for them. Every day that your stylist – who’s taken care of you every time you decided you wanted to “color your own hair” – can’t work is a day that they might not be able to pay their rent. Companies can’t afford to pay their mortgages without generating earnings, so they’re letting go of your friends and family.
To those of you who are making huge sacrifices and tough choices right now, I see you. I have a friend who cancelled her wedding, and another who postponed her honeymoon. I know people that haven’t seen their elderly family members in weeks. To the moms who are re-learning math all while keeping your kids entertained, scrubbing crayon off the wall, and cooking dinner – you are making an impact; hang in there.
This isn’t a time for selfishness. If you approach this is in the right light, you’ll be reminded of how amazing it is that our world functions so well together. We need each other, and right now, we need each other more than ever. This isn’t a message of panic; there’s no need to be afraid. This is a call to intentional action. Please, please, stay home. Cancel your gathering. Postpone your trip. Wash your hands. Remember that everyone loves someone. Just because it’s not your someone that needs support right now doesn’t mean it won’t be one day soon. Show up now… and by that, I mean don’t show up, anywhere.