Toxic Positivity During a Pandemic

It is March 27, 2020 as I write this. As is very apparent to everyone, there is a global pandemic with COVID-19 and its center. I am someone who resides in the United States and in just a couple of short weeks, things have rapidly changed. There are mandatory 'stay at home' orders in many states (including my own, North Carolina), school districts have been closed, there are shortages on things like toilet paper and hand sanitizer. So many things have been happening that a lot of people didn't fathom could happen.

Naturally, there is a lot of panic and fear surrounding everything. So many common place things that people took for granted, such as making a run to Target or getting coffee with a friend, have been compromised. We have all been asked to make sacrifices so we are able to flatten the curve.

With that said, of course everyone has a different idea of how to cope with all of this. Everyone has a different level of concern and way it is affecting them, and certainly keeping a positive attitude is something that can be really important when you are going through something that is uncomfortable or difficult.

What about when that positivity becomes toxic and harmful, though?

There comes a point when strictly focusing on 'positive vibes' really is ignoring the serious nature of what is going on. I have seen a great many people talk about how how this situation is such a "blessing in disguise" and a "good thing" because it is giving everyone a chance to slow down and spend more time with their families.

It is one thing to try and stay positive in a hard situation, but to call a pandemic a good thing is a knife in the heart to the people who are truly being affected by all of this in tangible harmful ways.

People are dying. People are losing their jobs. People are losing their loved ones. People are putting themselves at risk in jobs they never thought would ask that of them. People are in danger of losing their homes. People are in danger of not being able to pay their bills.

I know for me personally this is something that is affecting my family in various and potentially catastrophic ways. My husband is immunocompromised, with both asthma and high blood pressure. We are constantly worried that he will get sick. Also his tour booking business, which helped keep us afloat, has grinded to a halt for obvious reasons. Without that income, we are starting to wonder how we will be able to pay our rent come April 1. There has been no announcement in regard to any sort of rent freeze in my area and our rental company has made it clear rent is due when it's due, pandemic or not.

I don't say that to garner sympathy or pity, but I say it because that is my reality and it is the reality for MANY people I know. Our situation is not unique. Many friends of mine are living through the same sorts of horrors and even worse.

So imagine how it feels when you are aching with anxiety and worry and you go on Instagram or Facebook to see people talking about how has been such a 'great thing' for them and that how it is really what they needed to slow down their lives and spend more time with their family and realize what is important.

It feels like a slap in the face every single time. It HURTS.

I'm not saying that you can't have any joy in your life right now. I'm not saying that everything has to constantly be dark and serious and morose. Goodness knows I am doing the best I can to be positive and focused, and finding some joy where ever I can as much as I can. This is a call to action for people to think about your words and actions and how they can leave a mark.

You can be positive without it becoming toxic.

You can be positive without it negating the very real and lived experiences of others.

You can be a light without putting other people in the dark.

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