I had a pretty good start to 2020, and even when the restrictions for COVID were implemented, I was able to manage quite well. I had resources to train; my income wasn't in jeopardy; my wife's job was rock solid; I had money in the bank and credit lines. Though I felt for those who weren't prepared, or who found themselves in tough situations, I was fortunate not to be one of those who was struggling—at least not yet.
As the restrictions wore on and I was forced to be cooped up with my family, we started to have some problems with our daughter, my wife hated her job, and I had to deal with an injury that sidelined my competition plans for the year. As much as I thought I was not going to have to deal with what everyone else was dealing with, here I was dealing with everything that everyone else was dealing with, too. Now, before you think, "Skip, you didn't have to deal with losing your business or your job," or "You didn't have to wonder how you were going to feed your kids," I will agree that there are different levels of issues and different levels of despair. At the same time, my point is that this year has probably been one of the worst years for the vast majority of society, and competing against each other as to who has it worse is not what I'm attempting to do here. Some people had it worse than others; some lost friends or relatives; some couldn't pay their bills; some lost their homes while others may have lost relationships, marriages, or friendships. The bottom line is that we ALL dealt with something that made this year incredibly stressful for all of us.
My situation was depressing, and there was not much of a reprieve. If you are having problems within your family, and you want to step back and spend some time by yourself processing issues, this isn't an option. There was no place to go and nothing to do to take my mind off the problems I was having. I realized that it was a position that I was not comfortable being in, and realized shortly after this that I had two main ways to deal with it:
- I could bitch and complain.
- I could find a silver lining.
I had already been bitching and complaining incessantly, and that didn't seem to accomplish or fix much of anything. With only two viable options, I should probably look to the second option to see if there is anything that I could find that might be positive. I won't get into what I found, but I will say that I turned my situation into an opportunity for personal growth that I otherwise may not have been forced to look into had this year not ended up being as shitty as it was. Personal growth ended up being MY silver lining—the specifics of what and why isn't relevant to anyone outside of my family.
If you are looking for negativity, you will find negativity. If you purposely look for something positive, you will eventually find something positive. This made me think of other possible positives that could come from the hardships and situations that we all had to deal with this year, so I came up with a few.
1. Personal Financial Position
Though I didn't have to deal with financial issues this year, there were plenty of times in my past that if this COVID situation had hit, I would have been screwed. I remember being young and raising kids, paycheck to paycheck, and this year's situation would have been financially devastating.
There should always be money saved for situations that are out of our control. It could be a sickness in the family where you might not be able to be paid for time off work. It could be that one of your kids is sick or, God forbid, you lose a child or spouse. COVID might have set a precedent, but having an illness that keeps you from working certainly is more common than you might think.
If you are a business owner, you should have money put aside for the same reasons. No business should go under in only two or three months if something horrible happens out of your control. Personal growth would be taking responsibility for your financial position and preparing for such an unforeseen situation not to end up financially destitute.
2. Empathy and Sympathy
Both apply here, and both are important.
Having sympathy for those close to you, whether they are friends or family members, and understanding what they are going through as their situations impact you, as well. It is quite easy to dwell on the negative and complain that your spouse or child is making things worse for you while you all deal with the same situation. The blame game never works, and almost always makes everyone's situation worse.
Having empathy is understanding those who may not be in your situation, but being able to relate to their position and how bad it must be for them. I won't get political, but sometimes I am surprised at how unempathetic people can be these days when they are apathetic to situations that aren't directly related to them. I find it sad and disappointing at the same time.
It doesn't take much more than compassion to sympathize or empathize with others. If you lack empathy, you might want to take some time and reflect inward because you most certainly have room for personal growth.
3. Keeping Things in Perspective
This one hit me square in the feels.
My little pity-party was more about my injury and how "unlucky" I was after doing everything right all year long, only to get smacked with "the worst thing that could happen."
WTF SKIP, for REAL? The worst thing?
While some people pondered how they were going to feed their kids and pay rent, I lamented my inability to compete. While others were losing their jobs during a time where going out and getting another job wasn't going to happen for at least a couple more months, I was pouting. While medical staff was going to work every day risking getting the virus while treating those who were on their death beds, I was working from my cozy little home and checking my bank statements regularly. Only to be reminded that if I didn't work for the next three months, it would impact me none.
Yeah, this is definitely the worst thing that could happen. Please feel free to punch me in the throat through your computer.
In my defense, I realized the stupidity of my situation and how I was responding. I was caught up in the fact that I had busted my ass and "deserve" better than what I was getting from my injury. Of course, no one deserved to die from COVID. No one deserved to lose their job, not be able to feed their families, or hoard toilet paper—the latter being only slightly less important than winning a plastic trophy for my efforts.
When I give this advice to you, I also want to remind you that I took my own advice:
Keep things in perspective. No matter how bad we think things are, we all have first-world problems.
A lot of us forget how good we have it. This year has provided a lot of us the opportunity for personal growth and the opportunity that if something like this happens again, we have things in a better perspective and might be better prepared. Instead, almost all of us have complained about largely insignificant things like having to wear a mask (insert meme here about how I am a "sheeple" and how masks don't work, Fauci is an idiot, and this is all a conspiracy and will be over when the election is finished). Did I miss anything? Oh, not being able to go out and drink excessively at a bar, and how not being able to get your swole on at the gym is a violation of our rights. On a side note, I am unsure why going to the gym was not listed in the Bill of Rights, but I digress.
Yesterday, I saw a picture of a little boy with flies on his eyes, a distended belly, and his sister dying next to him. They both were starving to death, but she was too far gone and was going to die whether she received food or not.
Sorry, I forgot what I was saying. Anyway, I sure wish I could have been able to compete. I am so incredibly unlucky. Just Sayin.