Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Seth Riley.
Up until a month ago, it seemed like everyone else in the world was getting what we’ve always wanted.
Every time we opened social media, there they were: taking some awesome trip, fielding the opportunities we ought to have gotten, achieving what we only dream of.
Meanwhile, we sat on our couches, missing out on everything. Even worse, it felt as if this cycle would continue forever. Given the constant advance of technology, it seemed pretty impossible that any of this overwhelm would lessen anytime soon.
But these days, there is a lot less to miss out on. Everything has been cancelled and, for a while, we’re all living the same shut-in life.
It’s hard, in the thick of this global tragedy, to see many positives. So many people are horrifically sick, and so many others are reeling from the sudden loss of their livelihoods. Despite the many encouraging shifts in society—the refocus on community, the renewed sense of our shared humanity—this is just a tough, scary time.
Yet, as with any sort of catastrophic event, there are small mercies even in the midst of the anxiety and loss. And, to me, one of the most life-giving positives emerging from this disaster is that we have been given a break from the constant sense that we’re missing out on life.
Now that our digital feeds are quieting down from the constant barrage of “everyone’s eating at cool restaurants, attending events, sitting on the beach, having the time of their lives, or buying that thing we’ve always wanted,” we’ve been given a precious opportunity.
We suddenly have the freedom to evaluate our lives with almost no external pressure to keep up.
All of the voices that tell us, 24/7, that we are not enough are, to a large extent, gone.
For right now, we’re all relative equals living very similar lives. The celebrities we spend our days idolizing are stuck in their houses too. They are in their living rooms as we are in ours. Maybe we go out for a walk. Maybe we have to run out to Trader Joe’s. But, the rest of the time, we’re all just at home.
For the next while, there’s nothing we’re missing out on. If you have your health, if you have a roof, and if you have people to love, you are incredibly blessed.
This is a rare chance to take stock. Through all of the anxiety, we still have the option to start practicing those values we usually ignore and, with all of the closures and cancellations, we have been given the blankest slate we can ever expect to receive.
Given the opportunity to clear the decks, to perform a hard reset on our lives, we can emerge from this tragic historical moment as better versions of ourselves.
But, to do this, we have to use this interim time well. We have to be willing to truly cut ties with our unhealthy patterns and to replace our taste for FOMO-driven distraction with something better. And, most important, we need to take a deep—and probably uncomfortable—dive into ourselves to root out those things holding us back from being who we are truly meant to be.
It’s often hard to make changes in our lives because we usually have the option not to. But, tragedy has a way of jarring us toward clarity. Now that everything has been paused, we have a chance to re-align our actions with our values.
So, what will we do?
We could begin with our families. We always claim that our families are our number one priority. Yet, how often do we put them on the back burner?
We could refocus on our creativity, finding ways to use our talents to bring life to the people around us.
We could make time to slow down, to enjoy the many blessings in our lives, to spend less time looking at the horizon and more time enjoying the things immediately around us.
Only you can know the right answer.
Life is precious, beautiful, and limited.
Start being the you that you have been missing out on.
Seth Riley is a writer and father of seven kids living in a 960ish square foot house. You can follow him on Twitter here.