For the past several months my mental state seems to be more Schrödinger than Newton, resisting serious observation, and oscillating wildly between euphoria, guilt, outrage, depression, anxiety, frustration, and all states in-between. The most palpable side-effect has been loss of concentration; with the incessant drip, drip, drip of 24-hour news and social media causing my brain to fizz from one emotion to the next, almost at random.
Work has been a welcome respite and retreat — in the crisp binary world of zeros and ones I construct elaborate castles in the sky, which obey simple deterministic rules, and where, despite my failings as a programmer, I can attempt to impose some order.
I’m fairly sure that I’m not unique, or special, in these feelings. I’m fortunate that colleagues, friends and family have shared how they are dealing (or struggling) with the pandemic, illness, election, Brexit, climate change and a myriad of other worries, which leads me to the title of this post...
When I was younger (and more foolish) I thought that “Strength through Adversity” meant that if I suffered personal adversity and endured it, then I would grow stronger. No pain, no gain! What Covid has emphasized is that we don’t have to struggle alone. We are all on the same journey from birth to death, and we all experience periods of strength and weakness. The strong should help the weak, not just because it is morally right, but also because sooner or later, their time of weakness will come, when a kind word and a helping hand could make all the difference.
Adversity alone is not enough to grow stronger. It’s how we react to adversity that forges our characters. Adversity is an opportunity to dig deeper into ourselves and our relationships with others.
- Discovery of new opportunities not available before
- Closer relationships with others, especially others who suffer
- Greater appreciation for life
- Greater sense of personal strength
- Spiritual growth
So, be kind to yourself. We are all suffering in our own unique way. In the grand scheme of things my troubles are minor and inconsequential. I have a good job, I’m healthy, my family is healthy and I have a roof over my head. But these are MY worries and I own them. They aren’t inconsequential to me.
I know that you have YOUR worries, and that sometimes they manifest in ways that I struggle to understand or may misinterpret. Let’s help each other out and try to put some of these worries and emotions into words.
It will be ok, and we may grow stronger in the process.