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How a Non-essential is Coping During COVID

I am not an expert in anything except my own struggles, but maybe some of you just need to know that even though you are currently encouraged to be alone, you aren’t really alone.

black and white hammock

Is anybody else struggling knowing that you’re not an “essential worker”? Or as I had come to see it, actually being non-essential? Because if you’re not essential, you must be non-essential, right? And, wow, are there a lot of feelings of lacking self-worth that go along with that. My husband is essential, and seriously, I thank God for that because it means we will not starve as I wait (without holding my breath or I’d be dead already) for Florida to figure out the unemployment system. And even though his essential status means that he’s at risk of picking up this virus every day, I guess I’m a little jealous. Jealous of his importance, not the catching the virus thing; if he gets it, I’d likely be right there with him because he’s the only person I have contact with. This is also why I don’t get to have in-person contact with other humans right now at all. I don’t want to put anyone else at risk, even in groups smaller than ten. But so far so good, though there was a bit of a scare last week that turned out to be nothing.

I have a job, but I’m not working. My industry has to do with manufacturing goods used in the entertainment of people in large crowds. I mostly think my job will still be there when this ends, but I don’t know what it will look like yet or when it will happen. It really all depends on the actions of one other particular and rather large company. So we wait.

Honestly, I was excited at first. As an introvert, I thought this would feel like a vacation, and I was getting paid for the first two weeks, so it kinda was. I knew it would end up being longer and unpaid, but I think that news was harder on me than I realized it would be. That’s when I began to question my worth. I am used to having a full time job, frequent meetings in the evenings, and a dog to take care of. Then my dog died, meetings got cancelled (including meetings to prepare for a mission trip we were to go on this summer which was also cancelled), and I got furloughed.

I could write a country song.

With no routine and no sense of purpose, I started to feel depressed. I missed people, but I just didn’t want to talk to anyone at that time. And the sarcasm in a text I received right in the middle of feeling suddenly worthless was, “You have quite a busy schedule…” Yep, that hurt deep. Because I realized that in the midst of having no routine, I have been trying to create a routine. I need it. I want to make my life feel as normal as possible. And that means scheduling my day. It’s not like I break it down minute by minute, but I have given myself chunks of time designated for different activities, and it is really helping me. But that comment felt so mocking. It came from someone who has the ability to work from home, AND thus, has a steady income, so she couldn’t understand how empty and unimportant I was feeling. She also said it to hurt me, and it did.

But I am learning to cope with this mess better and better every day. I work out and/or run first thing every morning, have my coffee while spending time doing devotionals on YouVersion, and I do my Spanish all before I take a shower. The rest of the days have been broken down to cleaning and organizing (I have to feel I am earning my keep somehow and I never had the time or drive before), then maybe reading, then preparing dinner, and ending the evening with my husband. This week I decided I need to add something else back into my life…writing and organizing previous writing. So here I am on my blog. There are a few other projects I am working on that have sat untended on the back burner for a long time. I even had a virtual meeting with my church’s local mission team last night, and it was great to have that scheduled and then to see everyone in their little designated Brady Bunch boxes. It gave me something to look forward to and helped me remember I am still part of things outside of my house and outside of my brain. I also have a standing weekly virtual wine date with my best friend who is three time zones away. This has been one of my favorite things about social distancing and a wonderful thing to look forward to each week.

This is a lot like when I had summers off as a teacher, except that I still had an income then and I knew when I would start back at work each year. But I just needed to find my rhythm. I’m not sure how much longer this will last and this Friday will be my first with no paycheck, but this is why I spend time doing devotionals every morning and talking to God. He has always been there in the struggles of my life, and I’m still here. If you are struggling now and feeling non-essential, find your rhythm and a place to put your trust.