In the first few months of the Covid-19, there was much ink spilled about how life would never be the same and how everything has changed. I was skeptical then and I’m even more skeptical now. I’m not saying things aren’t drastically different–they are. I’m saying that even though situations change, people don’t necessarily change with them. Oh, hell. I’m not explaining this well, but I’ll keep trying.
Have you ever had something big in mind that you were sure would change you? Marriage, losing a large amount of weight (me), a degree, a job, whatever. You work diligently for years to attain the goal, and then, maybe, one day you achieve it. Finally, you’re where you’re supposed to be, and you can live life to the fullest! Then, you realize to your dismay, that life isn’t perfect, and you still have to, well, deal with it. I had this belief when I decided to lose weight (twice). All the shitty things in my life would finally be better, and my life would be perfect.
You can probably guess how that went down. Well, not exactly because I never reached my end goal. That’s because as I got closer to it, I would change it. It was literally impossible for me to meet whatever the current goal was. Two eating disorders later, I can safely say that my life did not change for the better after those two situations. Or when I graduated from college. Or got my first boyfriend. Or got my MA. It’s pretty obvious why–because I’m still me at the end of the day. No matter what I achieve, I’ll still be the same person (more or less).
On the other end, my BFF separated from her husband for a year early-ish in their relationship. She had been with him since she was a teenager, and she thought that there were so many things she could have done if she were on her own. Long story short, she didn’t do the things she thought she would when she was on her own. In other words, it wasn’t he marriage that was stopping her, but she herself.
It’s trite, but true. People are people. There are some people who can go through a monumental experience and come out a better person. Some will be made worse by it and some won’t change at all. I know this all sounds painfully obvious, but I have to remind myself of it during these strange times. People don’t automatically change when something like this happens.
Side note: I have a saying that goes, “Being a minority and being an asshole are not mutually exclusive.” Some people seem to believe that if you’re a minority, everything you say and do is inherently right/good. That’s not true, but it’s similar to this situation. People can be having an awful time and still be assholes.
Anyway, there was a post in the weekend thread of Ask A Manager about an earlier post about Covid-19. In that earlier post, someone mentioned she was terrified about leaving her place for the first time since the lockdown happened (to go to the dentist). In the weekend post, the poster, let’s call her Negging Nancy, specifically mentioned that post and said she was ‘surprised’ to see ‘petrified’ and blah, blah, blah. She claimed she was just asking for opinions, but the way she framed it made it clear that she thought her way of thinking was normal. Which, I mean, yeah, most people think their way of thinking is the normal way, but the way she phrased her post was very disingenuous.
Several people agreed with her. One person went so far as to say that if someone was terrified, it might imply mental health issues. A few did comment that it mattered where you lived and what your health risks were, but in general, most people were saying they weren’t scared. But, funnily enough, several of them were doing the same amount of going out that I was. Anyway, the poster who was quoted by Negging Nancy answered the post, and she was spot on. She touched on several of the reasons I have for being disinclined to going out (including racial reasons, though she’s black, not Asian), and she ended up by pointing out that the person did not seem to be asking the question in good faith. I had the same feeling, and it was gratifying to know that I wasn’t the only one. She seemed to think the other person wanted to get people to lowkey mock those of us who made more drastic decisions than Negging Nancy did, whereas I think it was more a point at the weirdos in wonderment. That may be a difference without distinction, though.
I was really glad she mentioned the racial aspects because one of the last times I went out before the lockdown, I had an older white dude glare at me in a Cubs for several minutes. This was before masks were mandatory and before I was wearing one, so it wasn’t that. He was leaning on his cart and staring at me, unblinking, and I honestly didn’t know if he was going to come at me. This was right after the idiot president started pushing the ‘China virus’ bullshit for the first time, and I had no doubt that’s why this man was glaring at me. I’ve read that Asian women were being targeted more so than Asian men for this flavor of racism, and I’m sure it’s sexism in addition to racism.
My own family already thinks I’m being too cautious. Not that they would ever say it out loud, but they implied it heavily. In addition, my brother kept pushing masks as the be all, end all, and I had to push back on it quite firmly. For the most part, masks aren’t meant to protect the wearer. Yes, there are some that do a better job of that than others (and, yes, I have a few of those), but in general, it still depends on others around you wearing masks as well.
And, look. I know I’m overreacting. I’ve chewed this over in previous posts. I do want to start going out again, but it’s not like the coronavirus is over. People in my area seem to be pretty cavalier about mask wearing and social distancing, so that doesn’t help. I’m still hoping to make it to the co-op one of these days. On the other hand, though, if I can rearrange my life to be as contact-free as possible, why the hell not? There was another post in that thread by someone who has worked with nasty pathogens in the past. She said that until there was a vaccine, she was taking as much precaution as she could. She’s frustrated because so many people still seem to think ‘it’s just the flu’.
Reading the post depressed me even more than I’m already depressed. It’s hard enough living this life without reading that people think I’m a freak or a baby or whatever. Despite Negging Nancy declaring that there was no judgment on her part, it was clear from her writing what she thought was normal and what she thought wasn’t. That’s the problem in general with being a minority–you’re constantly seen as the abnormal one. I’m not even saying it in a negative way (such as abnormal means bad), but in a purely factual way. It’s one reason it’s hard to get people to see their own privilege or the discrimination around them.
An example. There was a time in my twenties when I used to periodically get followed around the store. In addition, I was asked to see my driver’s license for a check and others weren’t (I waited around to see how other people were being treated). I used to do diversity training and I was inevitably asked how I didn’t know the person just wasn’t having a bad day, was following the rules, blah, blah, blah. One, when you experience discrimination on a regular basis, you know how to spot it. Two, I saw how they treated other people. I saw who was being followed and who wasn’t. I know how to do the math.
But if you’re white and haven’t experienced these things, then it’s outside your life experience. It’s like trying to explain the color red to someone who’s never seen it–you’re not going to get it right. You can come close, but it’s really something you have to experience to fully get it. When George Floyd’s murder was caught on video, maybe white people were outraged. How can something like this be happening? Well, it’s been happening since the beginning of cop-dom. Most black and brown people know excruciatingly well that it can happen and need to keep it in the forefront of their minds when they’re in a confrontation with the cops.
To bring it back to the Covid-19. If you’re a healthy, able-bodied person in your early twenties in a place that takes this seriously, you have no reference as to what is terrifying or petrifying for some people. Again, in my case, I live in an area where people aren’t taking it as seriously as they should be. The one time I went into the gas station, maybe three out of ten people were wearing masks, and that didn’t include the workers. In addition, I have a shitty immune system. I’ve had a cold/bronchitis for nine straight months before. That time, I was so desperate to make it stop, that I begged my doctor for antibiotics. Even though I knew it wasn’t viral. Can you wrap your brain around that? I knew it wouldn’t work, and I begged for it, anyway. That’s how desperate I was. Did it work? No. Did I feel better for two seconds after receiving the antibiotics? Yes.
My point is, if I get the Covid-19, I most likely will have a hardcore case of it. I might end up in the hospital, and I might even die. In addition, I live alone. If I get sick, what do I have? Me. I’ve read about how nasty this can get, and I highly doubt I’d be able to function if I got it. Who’s going to help me? Shadow. I doubt it.
The thing is, I’m trying to be understanding of people who are being more open about their movements than I am (bar the ones who are part of the ‘freeeeeeeedom from masks’ crew because fuck those assholes) because everyone has a different metric of comfortable. I would simply ask that they afford me the same grace, but I know from bitter experience that compassion and empathy is often a one-way street.