Honor Your Pace In Life (Regardless Of Whether There's A Pandemic Or Not)
Finding solutions to a problem amidst a crisis is a valuable skill, one that is admirable, and something to be respected.
“You never lacked time, you lacked discipline.”
These are the lines currently circulating social media concerning self-quarantine amidst a global health crisis, attacking people’s character while everyone is experiencing a new form of an uncharted trauma.
We live in a world that has so many expectations of us, of what we “should” do, and how we “should” act as is, let alone in a state of an emergency. Amidst the COVID-19 crisis’ disruption of our normal daily lives, there’s been a surge of motivational posts like the above with underlying derogatory language, attributing someone’s lack of achievement during a global lockdown as a character flaw.
This is not the time to point fingers, to keep score, or to push out pseudo-positivity on a world that is in desperate need of compassion, care, and understanding. Yet, some are using this time to become emotional bullies, and they are acting as the “how to be successful during quarantine” police.
Collectively, everyone is experiencing a certain degree of internal and external battles, at the same time, experiencing different levels of loss that are not necessarily quantifiable. Many are in shock and are adjusting to a new normal with an unclear trajectory of what’s next.
At the same time, there is a lot of pressure on humans to be innovative during a pandemic, as many great and successful companies were founded during The Great Depression and the 2008 economic crisis in the past.
Indeed, finding solutions to a problem amidst a crisis is a valuable skill, one that is admirable, and something to be respected.
If someone has the ability, resources, and tenacity to create during such times, by all means, do so– the world needs you, and we are rooting for you.
Though, let us not forget that not everyone has the same capacity to achieve or perform, especially if they are in a state of grief.
The world is in a state of grief.
We are in a state of grief.
Grieving the sudden change inflected by the COVID-19 pandemic to our lives. Grieving the loss of loved ones. Grieving the loss of job security and income. Grieving the loss of simple pleasures of life taken for granted. Grieving the privilege of leaving one’s home to drive, to go to work, to go to the gym, and many other day-to-day activities that help us thrive as a community and contribute to our overall wellbeing.
Everyone experiences grief differently, and everyone has the right to grieve their own way. Our grief is universal, but the way we are coping is not. If you don’t agree with it, there is no need to attack the method- it is a unique way of coping to the person grieving.
We do not need to judge how others are grieving; at the same time, we need to learn not to judge ourselves and how we are grieving, too.
Experiencing grief is not new to me. Last year, I experienced a form of complicated grief that left me perplexed with myself– having feelings of despair and being kidnapped by a masked depression, I found myself in a state of isolation from the world for a while.
A brief conversation with a concerned friend projects a parallel with the current situation- one of her questions to me about my grieving period was: “How long do you think this will take?”
I said: “As long as I need.”
There is no timeframe to heal from the pain caused by some experiences in our lives. It comes and goes in waves, and we learn to ride those waves to our best ability, yet sometimes the waves take us in, and we find ourselves surrendering in it until we find the strength again to swim through.
This is no different in regard to how we choose to live our lives, and the pace that works for us. Many people are going nowhere fast, and this pandemic is showing us what is worth prioritizing, and what’s purely a “want,” not necessarily a need.
It is also showing us what is working in the world, and what requires a drastic change. Radical measures are being taken to save a human’s life; at the same time, other actions are also taken by hungry capitalists to save –or charge– an extra dollar.
Success comes and goes, and learning to keep on going is not short of intentional or unintentional breaks or sabbaticals– if anything, time off and time to reflect are integral parts that are needed for our healing, and to build resiliency to maintain the path that matters to us, whichever path that is meaningful to us.
To honor one’s pace in life takes tremendous courage, especially in relation to society’s current pressure to succeed materialistically and externally. Uprooting our mental health and emotional well-being could be revisited as a necessity and put first in line when it comes to achieving personal success. Everything else can follow.
Defining your own meaning of success, and not following the status quo, means honoring your story, your pace, and your authentic self. At the same time, we must learn as humanity to honor that everyone has their own timeframe they need to grieve, grow, or succeed.
So, embrace the moments of productivity, joy, and achievements as they come and go, but don't feel guilty if you don't "pick a new skill," or "learn something new," during the pandemic.
If you can come out of this with your mental health and emotional wellbeing intact, that’s a win to be celebrated.
After all, that’s what really matters in the end: your health.
Amna Al Haddad is an internationally recognized inspirational figure, keynote speaker, sports personality, writer, and mental health advocate from the UAE. A sports pioneer, she is known for breaking the glass ceiling as an Olympic weightlifter who contributed to UAE’s 2016 Rio Olympics Qualification. During the same year, she was the first Emirati woman to be awarded the Rosalynn Carter Journalism Fellowship for Mental Health. She is also a contributing author in a youth’s book called The Possibilities Project: A Young Person’s Guide To Career Success that was launched this year.