As March draws to an end, I had to take time to reflect on the month that felt as long as a year, and how it impacted on my emotional and mental wellbeing.
I must admit, everything that is happening around the world regarding COVID-19 hit me harder than I expected it to. I had already been exercising social distancing before South Africa was officially put on lockdown, but with each day, my heart just felt heavier. Initially, I thought I was just being hormonal because my cycle was coming up, but when I dug a little deeper, following prompting from a friend who sent me an article that gave me my A-HA! moment.
The feeling I had that weighed so heavily on me was grief. In the midst of it all, I have always been aware of how privileged I am to be able to socially distance and work from home and have wifi, a laptop, airtime and food. I didn’t have to worry about whether my income is secure or if my family will have food. But the millions of South Africans who don’t have that comfort truly break my heart.
The people who only get paid for hours put in. The small business owners whose work has stopped and are unable to pay salaries or sustain their businesses. All of these issues and so much more in a country rife with food insecurity, poverty and frighteningly high unemployment.
There are people who already have or will need to let go of their employees because they simply cannot survive the financial hit that COVID-19 brought with it.There are people who are on the front lines, putting themselves at risk in order to continue providing essential goods and services. It’s complex. It’s conflicting. It’s not easy.
I’m finding that this time at home is giving me time to recalibrate what matters. Like many of you, there are so many things that I wish I could change, but I simply do not have the power to do so because of structural, financial and other barriers that continue to perpetuate the gross inequality that has been amplified – which has been surprising to some, for some reason – by the COVID-19 crisis.
For those of us who have the privilege to be home right now and not subjected to any abuse or violence, may we remain in gratitude. Those of us who are able to be with our loved ones, may we be kind to those who are alone. To those of us who are working from home, please be kind to yourselves. It is ok to acknowledge that we’re going through a lot, and it is heavy on our hearts and minds, so let’s remember to fill our cups as well.