Grace, Expectations, and Ditching the “Should Be’s” In Time of Pandemic
After the first few weeks of the virus, I started to notice a trend. I was doing less. The amount of tangible work I could point to at the end of the day was considerably less than what I had been accomplishing pre-Covid 19. And it bothered me.
I remember sitting with my husband one night, letting all of my frustrations regarding my time spill out over him.
“I’m not getting anything done. I don’t understand what is happening. What is it I’m actually DOING right now?”
“You’re living through a global pandemic Bekki. Give yourself some grace.”
I should have taken his advice. But giving ourselves grace isn’t something very many of us excel at. Beating ourselves up for failing to meet high expectations? We’re great at that. Comparison? We’ve nailed that one. But grace? Nah…
Never mind that some days my brain feels like mush – I should press on, do more. Forget that we’re navigating new and difficult territory. Accomplish like never before! And I carried on that way for several weeks.
And at the end of each day, I felt defeated and discouraged for not having conquered my to-do list and the world.
Yesterday, after a particularly rough few days (including my first round of tears), I had a good day – perhaps even a great one. At first glance, I figured it was because we celebrated my oldest son’s birthday. A birthday seemed like a perfectly reasonable reason to account for a mood shift, but the more I thought about it, I realized there was something deeper behind the change in my emotional health.
Because it was my son’s birthday, I’d given myself a “pass” for the day. I removed any expectations about all the things I “should” be doing during this “extra time” at home.
Because that’s where the struggle lies. The “should be’s.”
Ever since this time of quarantine began, I’ve been heaping enormous amounts of pressure on myself. And as per usual, social media wasn’t helping. It rarely does. (Yes, I realize that’s ironic as you’re reading something I posted on my blog…)
But, I kept seeing the posts from well-intentioned people admonishing us not to “waste” this time together as a family. Use it as a time to work on your marriage. This is your chance to take up a new hobby they’d say. Others would talk about using the extra time at home to complete cleaning and organization projects. In my writing groups, I saw posts reminding us that Shakespeare wrote King Lear while in quarantine. No pressure there.
And it felt like too much.
Each day of this pandemic is going to feel different, and each of us are going to have the swings between “I’ve got this” and “Dear God get me out of my house and back to my life.” But friend, this is something unlike anything any of us have lived through. This is new. This is scary. This is something wrapped up with grief and disappointment.
And we’ve got to stop with the “shoulds” and just let each day be what it is.
Because all of this pressure to “make the most of” this “extra time” we have is just fueling the two words that plague the majority of women I know…not enough. When we allow those words to take root in our brain, they begin to take on the appearance of truth. And over time, the belief that we’re simply not doing enough…not accomplishing enough…leads to the belief that WE are not enough.
Each day you are waking up and doing what you are capable of doing. That’s enough.
You are living through a global pandemic. That’s enough.
We have to get rid of the belief that our worth is dependent on what we DO. Your worth is NOT contingent. On anything. Ever.
You have worth. Full stop. Period.
Your worth doesn’t change based on whether or not you showered or got dressed today. Your worth doesn’t change if you don’t finish a single book during this time. Your worth doesn’t change if you’re not using this time to “deep clean” a single thing in your home. Your worth doesn’t change if you’re not loving teaching your child from home. Your worth doesn’t change if you need to escape from everything going on with some reality tv.
Your worth doesn’t change. Ever.
Your worth doesn’t hinge on anything. Ever.
So give yourself some grace. Don’t compare your pandemic experience to someone else’s. Comparison is never productive and we’re all coping and getting by with the tools and resources available to us.
You are doing what you can. You are doing your best. And no matter what that looks like, it’s enough – because you are.