We can’t control how others act, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to watch people we know disregard social-distancing guidelines.
After seeing the protests and backlash against the social-distancing guidelines put in place to save our lives, it’s been tough for me not to lose my cool. I know I’m not the only one. So every time I need a mental break, I leave my phone behind and take my pup on a long walk around the neighborhood. It’s been reassuring to see that everyone we encounter on our walks seems to follow social distancing guidelines.
If I walk on one side of the trail and someone walks towards me, my pup and I move to the other side or step away until they pass. It’s rare that someone would wait until the last minute to move away from us, or not attempt to distance themselves entirely.
It’s interesting how my heart races every time I see someone walking in my direction. How could I have foreseen that one day, the sight of another human would make to panic? Even if the other person is a good distance away, I start planning how to avoid them with an exit plan.
“Should I move to the street now? Maybe they’ll do it first. Oh, I hope they move soon, they’re getting closer. Okay, they went that way.”
It may seem excessive, this anxiety of mine has only worsened because I live alone. If I were to get sick, no one would be around to take care of me. Because of that, I do my part and adhere to social-distancing guidelines.
But yesterday, a woman also walking her dogs made no effort to keep a safe distance. She didn’t move out of my direction, and if I wouldn’t have taken a couple of steps onto the wet grass, we would’ve been within breathing distance of each other. I looked at her, fuming and frustrated after, and said, “Excuse me,” but she paid me no attention, and carried on with her walk and out of sight.
I stepped back onto the trail, shaking my head. You can’t control how others act, I told myself.
A few days later, I walked into my apartment building and didn’t hold the door open for someone, which would’ve been the kind and normal thing to do before this pandemic. Now, holding the door for someone is dangerous.
The man who didn’t reach the door before it closed put his hands up in protest, as if he were saying, “What the heck?”
I tried to make myself feel better. “He should know better. You’d be within 6 feet of him. It’s not being courteous anymore, it’s being careless,” I said.
My mama raised me better than that, I admit, but these are strange times.
I have VERY strong feelings towards the people who aren’t taking this virus seriously.
They’re being careless with their own lives, but also the lives of others, and potentially, high-risk others. They’re dangerously disregarding the sacrifices made by health professionals everywhere.
It’s difficult not to get judgmental about how others are handling this pandemic. I know those of us who have been following guidelines from Day 1 are definitely feeling something towards the people who can stay home, but instead, continue on with their daily lives as if nothing has changed.
So, I’m learning to navigate another new normal in this stressful time.
It’s this new wave of emotions that washes over me every damn time I see people socializing in groups in the street or the group of friends who went to Target for fun because “they missed normal life”. I’ve been talking myself through these incidents when they happen, reminding myself that as long as I’m taking proper precautions, I’m doing my part.
Until this is all over, all we can do is focus on doing our part.
We should continue being responsible and not stress about how others are navigating their lives, right?
“The actions of others are out of our control.”
We keep seeing this message again and again, and it is great advice. We should focus on ourselves and do all we can to be responsible and safe.
But on the other hand, we can’t deny how absolutely infuriating it was to see hundreds of people flock to the beaches in Florida when they reopened last Friday afternoon. (Did you know that on this day, they also reported a spike in new cases of COVID-19?)
Or how upsetting it was to see the hundreds of protestors riled up and supported by the orange man to demand lockdowns to end and non-essential businesses to open.
If you’re getting fired up, I don’t blame you. This isn’t an easy thing to watch. And it’s the same reaction when wildly irresponsible behavior comes from someone you know.
So what do you do when someone in your life isn’t taking this crisis seriously? A friend or a family member is ignoring social distance guidelines.
What do you do?
My advice? Don’t pour more stress into your already overflowing cup by starting a fight with someone via Zoom. If it’s been almost 40 days and they still haven’t realized the gravity of this situation…they probably won’t. Mute them on social media, unfollow them, whatever works for you, and let them handle this crisis however they’re going to handle it. It’s very unlikely that a confrontation will change their mind one month into this.
We can’t forget how critical it is for us to hold on to our sanity and focus on our own well-being right now, not our old college roommate who lives 1000 miles away.
Bring yourself back to center, as yoga instructors say, and focus on you. Are you keeping yourself safe? Are you following guidelines? Good. That is all you can control.
The pandemic has been mishandled from top to bottom in the US. We know this. We see the senseless protests of hundreds of people fighting against the very policies put in place to save our lives in several states across the country. We see the orange man tweeting idiocy in support of the protests. “I think they’re listening, I think they listen to me,” he said of protestors.
But really, what we can do but live by example and hope that others eventually understand why social distancing is still so important?
© Jessica Lovejoy 2020. All Rights Reserved.