Inner Monologue: To Be Human
It’s been a while since I’ve written an inner monologue.
In truth, I’ve been afraid. Afraid of coming to terms with these last two months, and how much I have failed and faltered in between. To say I’ve been struggling with this new time we’re in would be a gross understatement. I’m not struggling, I’m floundering. Like a fish out of water trying desperately to swim back into the ocean, except the ocean isn’t there anymore. It’s just a pond.
Spiritless is the best way to describe it. I’m spir·it·less (adj.): unmotivated, dejected. Lacking courage, vigor, or vivacity. The things that used to make me happy simply don’t provide joy anymore, and the pressure to be productive feels on one end, futile, and on the other, straight-up fatiguing.
Everyone seems to be asking all the time, what new hobbies are you taking up? How are you making the most out of quarantine? But it’s like re-learning how to be whole again with only parts of yourself intact. How can I expect myself to grow and flourish, when I don’t even know which holes to patch up first?
This is hard to put out there because I’m very results-driven, but I made ten goals for myself last month…and I failed every single one. They ranged from small things, like journaling and meditating with Headspace every night, to wildly more ambitious projects such as re-learning Spanish, running 100 miles in a month, and drafting my first movie script (wtf!!).
Somehow, I got so swept up in our society’s expectation to optimize — to succeed at all costs — that, in the midst of creating all these targets, I forgot an important lesson I learned last year: staying busy is NOT the same as staying fulfilled, and in order to thrive, you have to survive in the first place.
Today, I wrote this reflection not to complain or throw myself a pity party, but to create some space for empathy and remember what it means to be human. It led me to think about two words that are often uttered during times of war: demoralization and dehumanization. Both carry pretty heavy weight, and both seem to describe how many of us are feeling in this war against a relentless virus.
To demoralize is to deprive (a person or persons) of spirit, courage, and discipline. COVID-19 has demoralized the world in ways we never imagined. We’ve watched businesses crash, hospitals suffer, and families and friends forced to separate. More than 36 million people in the US are unemployed right now and over 310,000 people have died worldwide.
To dehumanize is to to deprive (someone or something) of human qualities, personality, or dignity. Although I don’t know anyone personally who has COVID-19 or has lost someone from COVID-19, I can only imagine the helplessness and frustration of being forced to keep a distance. Every day, there are people who can’t have their loved ones by their side while they’re suffering, and if they don’t make it, they can’t even receive a proper send-off or good-bye.
It’s heartbreaking that the things that boost morale (jobs, pastimes, social gatherings) and the things that make us human (connection, physical touch, quality time) have been stripped away. I’ve personally been stuck in a constant loop of feeling depressed to my bones, and then being filled with overwhelming guilt when I realize how many people have it far worse than I do.
But what I’ve slowly learned is it’s okay. It’s okay to feel demoralized and dehumanized, and it’s okay to admit you’re upset even when you feel like you don’t have a right to be. A quote my mom shared with me was:
You should be kind to yourself and not judge how you are coping based on how you see others coping. You should also be kind to others and not judge how they’re coping based on how you are coping.
I’ve left some space below — not to start over — but to keep walking (and falling and getting up and walking again) along this path of building resilience: