If you’re anything like me, the pandemic has been a whirlwind.

One minute I am productively tackling my to-do lists, starting new projects, and finishing old ones, and the next minute I am facedown on the couch wondering what the hell is going on.

Sometimes I feel scared, and lost, and oh so confused, but other times I feel relieved, grateful even, that this strange phase of life is unearthing parts of myself that I didn’t even know existed, or perhaps simply forgot about.

I’d like to propose that we feel this moment. That we do not run from it, or hide from it, or disguise it as a mere blip in the plight of humanity, but rather embrace it as a profound moment of pain as well as a beautiful opportunity for healing.

Up to this moment, we have been consumed by work, productivity, and the never-ending rush of a life lived in full-speed. We are constantly bombarded by messages from hustle culture: that our success = our worth and that our accomplishments = our identities.

We are given this opportunity, however grim, tragic, and wholly horrible it is, to rewire our collective understanding of what it means to be a worthy and beloved human being, and how crucial it is that we apply this understanding to not just ourselves, but to the world at large.

Because when we sit here in this moment, in which the usual ebb-and-flow of our day is now an unrecognizable blur of hours and thoughts and worries and questions, there is so much that is being brought to light.

Some of us are feeling our bodies for the first time in months, maybe even years, from working to the point of complete dissociation. Some of us are processing traumas and tragedies that have gone unacknowledged for far too long. Some of us are identifying our values and rejecting ones that no longer serve us, or finding that the lives we lived pre-pandemic are the ones we do not want to continue living once it ends.

Whatever is coming to the surface or whatever is buried deep, I invite you to lean into it, trust it, talk to it, and listen, because this moment is trying to teach us something.

In the midst of a pandemic, no one cares about how many figures you’re making, what kind of shoes you’re wearing, the house you live in (if you’re lucky enough to have a house), how many times you work out, or how many calories you eat.

No one cares about the minuscule measures of worth we hastily use to gauge how much we ought to love ourselves, or conversely, how much we ought to despise ourselves.

Because all that matters in this moment is love, connection, support, and empathy, many of the things we do not stop to consider and embrace when we are hustling from one obligation to the next in a world that thrives off of our disconnect and drive for success.

Toxic productivity is a thing, and it’s been chipping away at our sense of collective humanity, but now is the time to stop the hurting and begin the healing and enact the kind of reality we want to live in, one that prioritizes people over profit and connection over success.

Going through the motions is such an easy way to live, requiring little if any attention to our innermost thoughts and sensations and deepest wants and desires. It allows our awareness of the world to narrow into tunnel-vision and focus solely on the things and belief systems we’ve been conditioned to believe are the gateways to happiness.

Now that we’ve been shaken awake and rattled back to reality, in a time in which our primary focus is not to succeed but to survive, and to do so with compassion and consideration for our fellow human beings, so many things are being illuminated. This is something we need to embrace.

Whatever it is that is coming up for you right now, please hold it close and ask it what it is trying to teach you. We can learn so much about ourselves and each other right now if we are just willing to unearth the pain buried deep and acknowledge the worth we’ve had all along.

This is a collective moment of human pain and suffering and as awful as it is, it might be what leads us into a brighter, better, and more connected future post-pandemic.

Let’s use this time to heal ourselves and each other; we need it now more than ever.

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