The biggest thing I learned in 2020: we’re not all in the same boat - and that’s okay

Katy Sunshine

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Ah, the year 2020. Who ever thought that a global pandemic, civil rights protests, devastating wildfires, a presidential impeachment, murder hornets, AND the Tiger King documentary could have all happened in one year?

No, it wasn’t a weird fever dream. It actually happened. And as we enter 2021, I think we all would like to just forget this year completely.

However, the main thing that stuck out to me is just how drastically different this pandemic affected everyone. Some people barely held on by a thread. Some people lost everything. And some, unfortunately, directly profited from the pandemic (I’m looking at you Jeff Bezos).

During one of my many boredom-induced scroll sessions, I came across this post on social media that really stuck with me. It was a metaphor that beautifully explained how different everyone’s experience was throughout this past year.

Unfortunately, I was unable to find the original author, but if anyone knows who wrote this please let me know!

I heard that we are all in the same boat, but it’s not like that. We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat. Your ship could be shipwrecked, and mine might not be.

Or vice versa.

For some, quarantine is optimal. A moment of reflections, of re-connection, easy in flip-flops, with a cocktail or coffee. For others, this is a desperate financial and family crisis.

For some that live alone, they’re facing endless loneliness. While for others it is peace, rest, and time with their mother, father, sons and daughters.

With the $600 (US) weekly increase in unemployment, some are bringing in more money to their households than they were working.

Others are working more hours for less money, due to pay cuts or loss in commissioned sales.

Some families of four just received $3400 from the stimulus package, while other families of four saw $0.

Some were concerned about getting a certain candy for Easter, while others were concerned if there would be enough bread, milk, and eggs for the weekend.

Some want to go back to work because they don’t qualify for unemployment and are running out of money. Others want to kill those who break quarantine.

Some are at home spending two to three hours a day, helping their child with online schooling, while others are doing the same on top of a 10–12 hour work day.

Some have experienced the near death of the virus, some have already lost someone from it, and some are not sure if their loved ones are going to make it.

Others don’t believe this is a big deal.

Some have faith in God and expect miracles this year.

Others say the worst is yet to come.

We are not in the same boat. We are going through a time when our perceptions and needs are completely different.

Each of us will emerge, in our own way, from this storm. It is important to see beyond what is seen at first glance. Not just looking, actually seeing.

We are all on different ships during this storm, experiencing a very different journey.

— Unknown Author

This is a very powerful statement, and one that certainly rings true with most of us. A common example that many people have highlighted, is how celebrities simply can not relate to the reality that most of us are experiencing during this time.

Yes, they are being forced to quarantine and are missing out on the social interactions that are crucial to our mental health. But can they really be experiencing this storm like the rest of us, when they are doing so from a megayacht?

THE REALITY CHECK

As much as we might want to get angry at the unfairness of the situation, the reality is: that’s life. We all have different advantages, abilities, privileges, that allow certain people to be more successful or more prepared when life goes awry. We can’t compare ourselves to others because everyone is starting out from a different place.

Additionally, the life that most people (and even celebrities) post about online isn’t necessarily the reality they are experiencing. You might be resentful towards a certain person who seems like they have it all together, who hasn’t suffered one bit this year.

True, the economic impact of the pandemic did not affect wealthy celebrities as much as working class citizens. However their life could be a mess in other ways that you may never imagine.

They could be dealing with personal issues; ranging from substance abuse, to domestic violence. For example, FKA Twigs recently went public about her abusive relationship with actor Shia LaBeouf.

This brings to mind another favorite quote of mine by Regina Brett: “if we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.”

It’s a good reminder not to compare your lives to others, whether that’s a celebrity or your friends on facebook. Everyone is dealt a different hand in life, and in my eyes the most “successful” people are those who can keep a positive mindset no matter what challenges they are facing.

TAKE IT WITH YOU

Take this realization with you into the new year. No matter what anyone else is doing, or how their life may seem, it doesn’t matter if you simply focus on yourself.

Being angry or resentful towards others won’t change anything anyways, so why subject yourself to feeling those negative emotions? Take a deep breath, and remember that you are loved, worthy, and important.

Be kind to yourself. Don’t compare yourself to others. If you have any goals or resolutions for the new year, do them for yourself, not to keep up with the people around you.

Don’t get upset if you see someone else living a “better life” than you. You never know what could be going on behind the scenes.

And if you’re able to: help out others around you who may be struggling. Recognize the privileges that you do have and put them towards making the world a better place.

We may not all be in the same boat, but we will eventually make it through this storm.

Photo by Joseph Greve on Unsplash

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I write about mental health, holistic living, and how to find joy and meaning in your life.

Honolulu, HI
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