Dear Class of Pandemic 2020,
We have experienced the most significant event in our lives to date. Not to diminish weddings, births, deaths, graduations, and other historical moments, but this was the first event that affected ALL of us at the same time.
It did not affect us equally or distribute itself equitably, but we all felt it in an enormous capacity. It locked us down, masked us up, and created a chasm among us as large as the Grand Canyon.
Weddings were canceled. Graduations were missed. Sickness and death happened alone. And that barely scratches the surface of damage.
Children missed milestones in their childhood. Parents worried about the long-term effects of their children’s misplaced rites of passage. Meanwhile, they were hurting from the loss of loved ones, income, and freedom.
The workplace gave birth to The Great Resignation as employees debated remote, in-person, or hybrid. The real reason in question was exhaustion, not being valued, and poor mental health. How do you focus on the bottom line when you can’t visit your loved one in the hospital?
As the world tried several times to open up, we learned brutal lessons, created new variants, and the fissure grew wider. We focused more on our differences than the similarity that we were all battered and bruised from so much loss.
Not even the most hardened human being could walk away from the Class of Pandemic 2020 without being a little less innocent, trusting, and carefree. We’ve all heard, seen, and experienced too much. The binding theme we share is we all have a story of pain, loss, and heartache.
Will we ever be able to return to a more cohesive, trusting environment?
It’s time to heal. You do not heal from a pandemic and the divide it has created among us without deliberate work. We no longer have the luxury of ignoring our mental health. It needs to be at the forefront of everything we do from this day forward.
Instead of focusing on our differences, let’s celebrate our similarities.
We all have people we love.
We all want our loved ones to be healthy.
We all want to be able to visit those we love.
We all want to be happy.
Everything outside of that is secondary.
Please move forward in kindness towards those around you. Replace hate with praise. Practice acceptance over opposition. See parallels instead of variation. Remember, we are all human.
Our futures depend on it.
With love, happiness, and a bowl of ice cream,
Lyssa Ireland Thomas
What are you going to do Class of Pandemic 2020?