“My daughter’s spring break happened to perfectly align with the surge of cases of the Coronavirus.
I had been looking forward to this extra time together. Since she entered Kindergarten, she’s inevitably spent more time in a classroom than with her mother. And as with any relationship, quality time keeps connection strong. We both desperately needed to put work and school aside and make new memories.
At the beginning of the week, Corona was a whisper—acknowledgeable, but easy to ignore. We sanitized well and went on our way enjoying life: Festivals and parks, face painting and time with friends.
But a few days later, our bustling city turned into a ghost town. Our local library, usually packed to the brim with crying preschoolers and preteens nose deep in the latest sci-fi trilogy, were nowhere to be found. As my daughter played alone in the children’s section, she asked me if we had accidentally stayed past closing hours. This kind of isolation was new for all of us.
We found the entire population of our city a few hours later, though. In no other place than Costco. All I wanted was a rotisserie. Instead, I almost lost a limb as I passed by people wearing gloves, and masks, and yes, hazmat suits.
I had previously educated myself on facts. I am a former nurse. I don’t dilute the seriousness of a pandemic, but I also rely heavily on world leaders in situations such as these. If they say wash and keep social distancing, I follow suit. But there was something about the empty aisles, wiped clean of paper products and water bottles, that caused a tide of panic to rise in me.
I checked out of Costco, and reality, and found myself aimlessly scrolling for solutions from the front seat of my car.
Here’s the deal: We are what we believe, but we also are what we read. And within minutes of logging on to social media I was reminded of just that.
In the same swipe, I saw articles confirming that this was the end of the world, and also those suggesting we’d all be just fine. I saw memes, and CDC reports, and toilet paper earrings for sale. I saw people dismiss the disease, and some running for a bunker.
But most of all, I saw my anxiety rising. There was a reason I had carried on (safely) living and stayed off social media: Because as much as the Internet is there to inform us, it’s also there to entertain us. And the truth is, you can always find someone to back up what you want to believe, be that a virus or how to sleep train your baby. If you want to be validated by another voice (or online article) there’s plenty out there to pick from.
So, I shut down my phone and decided to put my faith in one thing: The voices I can trust.
Whenever there’s a major unknown, I always ask, ‘Who is someone in my life that is reputable and educated on this matter? Are they worried, or are they warrior-ing on?’
So, whether that’s the President, World Health Organization, your grandmother, neighbor, or God, identify your voice of truth and go running toward the wise. This doesn’t just apply to Corona, but all of life. Whose eyes stay steady when your plane hits some turbulence? Stick close to that source.
As a former nurse, I’m going with my medical professionals.
As someone who has a spouse with a failing heart, I’m going with hand hygiene, extra showers, and a lot of hope.
As someone with anxiety, I’ll be using the Internet only for education.
And as someone who believes in the power of prayer—I’m also going with God.
Before shutting down my phone, I checked my email and noticed that my daughter’s school was cancelling classes for an additional week. As were churches, and festivals, and the happiest place on earth, Disney. Things started to feel really dismal again. I was mentally prepared for one week with my child, but not an indefinite amount of time while quarantined.
But then I remembered one empowering thing: We always have control over how we feel. And just as viruses, fear, and panic are contagious—so are calmness, faith, and love.
There’s power in knowing we get to choose what to read and what to believe.
There’s also reassurance knowing that this whole world, for once, is fighting for the same thing.
Remember that when social media takes a turn for you: We’re all in this together.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Stephanie Hanrahan. Follow Stephanie on Facebook here, Instagram here and visit her website here. The article originally appeared here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more from Stephanie here:
‘You have the perfect family.’ That’s what they saw. A life tied up in a pretty little bow. No one could’ve known what was happening behind closed doors.’: Mom discusses life with 2 special needs children
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