Suck it Dickens
Raise your hand if you hated A Tale of Two Cities? Despite my minoring in English Literature (#funfact), I loathed this book. Don’t get me wrong, since we spent what seemed like an entire year reading and writing about it in middle or high school, I remember it quite well, but Dickens’ perhaps second most famous thome isn’t something I’d ever be clamoring to reread. That said, the times we’re in right now feel downright dickensian and the quote in my subject line recently popped into my head as I was trying to reconcile how I’m feeling.
I feel like every conversation these days starts with How Are You Doing? But unlike the same being true a month ago, people actually really want to know. We’ve all become empathetic and caring. Or most of us. And that’s pretty damn awesome. And I feel fortunate to be able to say I’m doing well, or well as can be expected. I have business. A fair amount of business and I’m healthy, as is my family. But I’m struggling with the awareness that so many people are in fact not doing well. That thousands are dead or dying. And hundreds of thousands are sick. Add to that all those people out of work, out of money and out of options, and me doing well makes me seem like a big giant asshole.
Nothing to See Here
Brene Brown recently talked on her podcast about Comparative Suffering. In other words this idea that because things are good for us, we can’t be grateful for them because other people are doing so much worse. But, as she so eloquently stated, being mad at ourselves for having feelings isn’t how emotions work. You can’t send your brain a message that your feelings aren’t ranking high enough on the suffering board. It’s not a contest and in fact, the emotions we feel when we deny we have them to begin with, actually double down.
The Two New Yorks
One of the ways this has come to the forefront for me is in thinking about post 9/11 NYC. There were essentially two New Yorks. Those directly affected by the tragedy and those indirectly affected. Again, I was the lucky one. I didn’t know anyone who died in the towers or the planes and I lived uptown, so my home life was also not affected. Clearly, living in NYC when 9/11 happened was trauma enough and of course, I was affected by the tragedy as a whole, but again, spared direct contact.
On my coaching call this week, my business coach, Ilise, mentioned how she’s been thinking a lot about musical chairs. How people who have solid networks that they’ve built are finding chairs, while those who haven’t are the ones endlessly walking around and not finding one when the music stops. The reason I’m ok, for now at least, is due to cultivating my network and relationships so that I have that strong foundation. I have support in all the ways I need it. From clients still able and willing to do business (or finding they have to because communication is all we have right now), to my networks and friends as we do a rotating bevy of Zoom calls so I can see their smiling faces and feel their energy and love.
The Only 4-Letter Word We Need Right Now
Mostly I’ve been thinking about how I started this network. How I realized I needed help and I had the courage to ask for it. How that simple ask, which is actually really hard, led to a blog and a podcast and successful business. Including this brand spanking new website (done by a talented designer and friend who I also asked for help). How that ask turned me from freelance order-taker to in-demand business owner, speaker and Personality Brand creator. So as we trudge forward in what is only the beginning of our long journey out of the dark, my hope is you will ask for help in whatever way you need. People want to help you. Let them. I’ll be the first.