Guides & How To's

A Cynic’s Guide to Surviving this Dumpster Fire

Well, to say that shit hit the fan real quick is probably an understatement. Only a little over a week ago, I was rolling my eyes at all the doomsayers, saying that corona is just like the flu. Fast forward a few days and here we are. What a dumpster fire! Among the never ending news stream of new cases, I’m having a hard time not getting overwhelmed with hopelessness. And there is one surprising thing that’s actually making it worse: Facebook posts encouraging everyone to check in with each other.

That’s right! There are only a few good things that still exist in this world, social connectedness in a time of social distancing is one of them, and I’m shitting all over it. Why? Let me explain.

My limited emotional bandwidth

I can only care so much. I honestly don’t care how awful that sounds because that would take too much energy that I just don’t have at the moment. I’m trying my best to be there for my students, my coworkers, my friends and family. So no, Karen, I cannot concoct another bottle of compassion for people I don’t even know. Yes, I do feel awful when I hear of all the most vulnerable populations who are affected the most by the pandemic. But aside from a quick, “That’s awful!” as I scroll past the 10th story of its kind , I can’t muster up much more.

I don’t have any money

The one kicker that’s been frustrating me the most is people encouraging others to give away part of their salary to those losing their jobs due to this crisis. Let me start off by saying that if you have the means to do so and you WANT to help in that way, go for it! I admire you for it. However, most of the people I know, including many of my readers, work in education. And we all know what that means! Let me put it this way: I, for one, don’t get paid enough to cover my own bills let alone someone else’s!

I need to take care of myself first

If I want to stand even a slim chance of making it to the other side of this nonsense without completely losing my shit, I need to take care of myself first. That means that I’ll be keeping my money, thank you very much, Linda! That means that I’ll be limiting my exposure to Facebook. That means that I won’t know the latest stats on how many people contracted the virus in the last hour. That means that I won’t necessarily text people back right away. That means that I will eat that 2nd slice of cake. That means that I will take a nap and be the big spoon to my dog’s little spoon.

I’m giving you permission

I’m writing this post because when I was trying to come up with what to write about this week, I asked myself: “What would I want to read about?”. And I very quickly came to the conclusion that what I DON’T want to read about anymore is all of the things I should be doing for others. Those posts wouldn’t even be so bad if they weren’t cloaked in thick layers of guilt and shame, as in: if you don’t do this, you’re a terribly selfish person. Because I don’t believe in that sentiment. I believe that you should love yourself and take care of yourself BEFORE anyone else. The only way that you’ll actually be able to help others in the long run, really, is if you don’t run yourself into the ground first. So, if you need someone’s permission to put yourself first, you have mine! And if you need someone to tell you that you’re not terrible or selfish, I’m here to tell you that you’re not terrible or selfish. Taking care of yourself is the most responsible and kind contribution you can make right now.

How are YOU taking care of yourself during this time? Leave it in the comments below!

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