ESPOSITO: All pain caused by coronavirus is valid

Column: Unapologetically

Laura Esposito is in the School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in journalism and political science. Her column, "Unapologetically," runs on alternate Tuesdays.
Laura Esposito is in the School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in journalism and political science. Her column, "Unapologetically," runs on alternate Tuesdays.

You have been told there are a million different people who have it harder than you do. 

If you are a first-year robbed of your second semester right when you started to like college, think about the college seniors. If you are a college senior, stop feeling sorry for yourself — at least you did not miss prom like high school seniors. If you are a high school senior, well, think about the people whose businesses might be detrimentally effected by being forced to shut down. If you are a business owner, well, at least you are still alive. 

When crisis strikes, people like to claim that is when true colors emerge. They like to point fingers at those doing the right thing and those doing the wrong thing. They say you can either handle it with grace or you can sit and sulk instead of trying to stay as grateful and positive as you possibly can. In this quarantine, in this crisis, we are constantly reminded that people have it so much worse than us. If you sulk about it for a second, you are being selfish.

Somebody always has it worse, yes. But, this does not invalidate your feelings. This does not mean the things you are mourning, the personal crises you are having in the wake of this total lockdown, do not matter. You are told to be a hero, you are told to follow all the rules. But it is hard to feel like a hero sitting on your couch. 

Everyone is entitled to feel robbed in the wake of this sudden halt of life. No matter who you are or what your resources are. It is okay to be sad, it is okay to feel panicked, scared and useless. 

But it is not okay to lose hope. Do not resign yourself to becoming a vegetable, do not convince yourself that nothing matters anymore. It is hard to look forward to the end when you do not see a light at the end of tunnel, because nobody knows when this will end. Nobody knows when this is going to get worse or when it will get better. 

In the past two weeks, the phrases “6 feet apart,” “social distancing” and “flattening the curve” have become our new life mottoes. Everything has changed, loved ones are separated, friends have no idea the next time they will be reunited and we cannot hug or kiss our loved ones out of sheer fear of being the reason they die. 

Everyone is going through something right now and it is okay to admit that. Just because you do not have COVID-19 does not mean you are not suffering. You are entitled to mourn and it does not make you selfish — it makes you human. 

But as humans do, you pick yourself up and you keep moving forward. You do your part and you recognize that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and though it may be far away, we are in this together. 

When this nightmare is over, we will have learned about ourselves. You do not need to run into a burning building to be a hero. Each one of us, in this epidemic, have the potential to be heroic. Whether it is dropping off groceries to your grandparents who cannot leave the house. Whether you are a small business owner doing everything you can to ensure your employees receive benefits when they are financially burdened by this crisis. Whether you are a teenager who tells your friends that you are not going to see them until this nightmare is over. 

It is in these times that we need ordinary acts of bravery the most. It is time to recognize that we were all wronged, we were all robbed of many things. But instead of trying to measure who has it this worst, we lean on each other. We all do our parts. When this is over, we cherish what we and who we have more than we ever have before. It is okay to feel sorry for yourself. 

But without hope, there is nothing left.

Laura Esposito is in the School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in journalism and political science. Her column, "Unapologetically," runs on alternate Tuesdays.


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