It’s okay to be self-centered during COVID-19

Sophie Oehler, Opinion Columnist

The past several weeks have been nothing short of a fever dream. 

If in January, you had told me that in a couple short months I would be restricted to the confines of my house, while oil prices dropped below $0, and actor John Krasinski, formally of The Office, held a virtual prom on Tik Tok dancing to “Lady in Red,” I would have carted you down to the nearest psychiatric ward and left you there. 

In the time since quarantine started, I have learned how to cut hair, cried my way through several online plant bio labs and watched my weekly average screen time climb slowly to unprecedented heights. 

I hate it. I miss school. I miss eating lunch with my friends, no matter how long the deli line takes. I miss walking to my classes from Redstone campus, even if the wind is blowing seventy-five miles an hour and I forgot my mittens in my room.

 I even miss lugging my laundry basket into the basement only to discover that all the washing machines are out of order. 

This new normal sucks, there’s no doubt about it. I know I’ve been preaching positivity and finding the silver lining, but I get that it’s hard sometimes. My old high school’s prom has been canceled, which means I don’t get to embarrass my brother in front of his date at pre-dance pictures. 

Social gatherings have been forbidden, which means I don’t get to have “Love Island” parties at my best friend’s house. My study abroad is at risk of being canceled, and I don’t even know if it’s worth applying for internships this summer. 

I know I sound like Kim Kardashian after she lost her diamond earrings in the ocean, but I think we should all be allowed to be a little selfish and dramatic right now. So before you “Kim there are people dying” me, allow me to explain. 

Humans are empaths; it’s true. We can gauge how others might be feeling in certain situations, based on how we, ourselves, would respond to that same situation. In times like these, empathy is more important than ever. 

We need to remember the hard times we’re living in and how they’re affecting others less fortunate than we are. We need to consider what we can do to support those people, and the changes we all need to make to fix the disaster we’re living in. 

But at the same time it’s okay to be a little selfish too. This is a time like no other, and we’re all struggling to adapt to it. 

We’re all grieving right now in our own ways. Some of us grieve the losses of loved ones, employment and housing. Others of us, who in a morbid way are much luckier than the former, are grieving the loss of routine, the loss of structure, the loss of everyday life. 

We’ve all been uprooted from our normal environment, and locked up in our homes with no idea what the future holds, and few enjoyable ways to distract ourselves from the anxiety and stress that our new environment creates. 

I’ve spent the past few weeks grappling with being upset about my “ruined” college experience and feeling guilty about losing sleep over such trivial matters when other people are losing far more important things. I’ve noticed, however, that the guilt only makes me feel worse. So now, not only am I sad for my own problems, but others’ as well. 

That’s not the way to cope. Because if we let it, all of that sadness will build and build until there’s nothing left to feel. We need to validate ourselves, allow ourselves to be sad about the small things, because right now that’s about all our exhausted brains can handle. 

So let yourself cry about a canceled graduation or concert. Let yourself be sad about not getting to hug your friends or go out to eat. Even if it’s as small as missing getting a haircut when you need it or not standing in lines at the grocery store, let yourself miss it. 

We’re all going through a bit of a break up from life. And while breakups can be dramatic and tearful and messy, that’s okay. Because that’s how breakups are supposed to be. We’re scraping the bad, and starting over fresh. 

Give yourself time to be in your feels. Eat ice cream, watch “Titanic” and lie in a blanket burrito for as long as you need. But when you’ve finished wallowing, remember that the only way to go is up. We’re going to pull through this and be okay on the other side.