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I FOUND HAPPINESS DURING A PANDEMIC AND THEN GRAPPLED WITH THE GUILT

I Found Happiness During A Pandemic And Then Grappled With The Guilt

Even after watching my life be a shit-show for four years, it’s truly weird to be gifted with the happiness of this magnitude in the middle of a pandemic.

CW: mention of abuse

I am… technically doing really well.

This is not a brag. This is not even a humblebrag. This is an acknowledgment that my life is currently going through an intense and expansive upswing.

Which just so happens to be happening in tandem with the global pandemic known as COVID-19.

I’m not going to lie to you. I was really hesitant about writing this. Not because it’s going to be hard to write (I have never shied away from writing that is difficult), but because many celebrities and even members of Verified [Fake Rich] Twitter have been showing both booty cheeks—BET Uncut style—on the internet since the pandemic started. And they continue to be oblivious at best and callous at worst when it comes to the world around them and its suffering as well.

Still. What’s interesting, in my case, is that my recent good fortune is following a particularly tumultuous period that I really struggled through (I’ll explain). And all of these things happening and aligning at one time is reminding me of what I call “The Great Lesson” of my life:

Timing.

That’s right, dearly beloved. Throughout my short and somewhat messy life, whenever I get through any type of extended situation or ordeal, I’m always reminded that the one thing I will always be struggling with is the timing of when and how things decide to pop off in my life so to speak.

This has been a recurring theme with literally everything. Love. Career. Family. You name it! Case in point, I have always wanted to be an author. I have always been interested in writing books, not articles. So much so that when I was seven, I started making paper books. Think Great Illustrated Classics but low budget as fuck. Like the Great Value version of a Great Illustrated Classic. Anyway, I really thought I was onto something, and I eventually started pitching query letters to literary agents when I hit about 16 or 17. And… let’s just say that it didn’t go very well. Ironically, though, a whole decade has basically passed… and I now have a literary agent. Who slid into my DMs first.

Hilarious right? Well, there’s more.

In a similar vein, I always wanted something reminiscent of a home. Like a sacred space I could go to that was just for me, and whichever person I decided to let into that space. Free of anyone else’s expectations and free to prioritize myself and not worry about being a “mommy” (re: My Cancer Moon) or crutch for someone else. This was important to me as someone who had grown up in an abusive home, had to assume both the position of “Black Sheep” and “Elder-Sibling-in-Chief” (and protector) in that home, and thus had always been forced to share space with them for this reason. 

Of course, having my own space didn’t happen right away after leaving home. And the depression that followed as I realized it was something that wouldn’t be happening as quickly as I wanted it to was intense. College came and went, and the whole time I had to bunk with roommates because of costs. Post-college came, and per THE millennial struggle, whole Fortune 500 companies thought they could get away with paying me less than minimum wage, so again, living by myself was out. And then, I moved to California on a semi-whim because I figured I should put my film degree to work. I plan on talking about it at length in the future, but, what I’ll say now is that the time I lived in California was probably the worst time of my life outside of the three to six months that immediately followed me graduating from the tyrannical University of Chicago.

And now? Well, I rent my own apartment. Like, I am quite literally the only nigga on this lease, and that will remain as such for the foreseeable future.

And I am happy as shit.

But it’s really weird being gifted happiness of this magnitude (even after watching my life be a shit-show for four years) in the middle of a pandemic. Seriously. I signed my lease the week before the first rash of reports of COVID-19 popped up in New York City. And by the time I had fully moved into my place and decided to channel my inner Martha Stewart to turn it into an actual home, the WHO had then declared it a global pandemic. I was so confused. And it was shocking and weird to watch it all unfold in real-time.

RECOMMENDED: A NEWCOMERS GUIDE TO SOCIAL DISTANCING AND WORKING REMOTELY

And then, after the excitement of me signing my first solo lease eventually wore off, all that I was left with… was guilt. Like some offshoot of “survivor’s guilt” but with a dash of Miss Rona to distinguish itself as a special flavor of “survivor’s guilt”. I tried to, as my mother would say, face my front and help the people who need it right now since I was doing relatively okay. But I couldn’t shake the guilt, even with action. Granted, happiness is subjective, extremely personal, and ironically very fleeting, but I felt so selfish about finally experiencing it in a tangible way that didn’t come wrapped in a blanket of pain. That didn’t come at great personal cost. And honestly?

I felt really unworthy.

How dare I be so joyous when the world is literally on fire? How dare my life finally start to look up on the brink of global collapse? How dare I find some sliver of sanity within all of this chaos? How dare I have a roof over my head? How dare I still have a job to report to?

How dare I be happy?

I still don’t have any definitive answers to all of these guilt-ridden questions I keep coming back to. This isn’t due to being in denial or because I don’t want to answer them. But rather, they are not really questions that are worth being answered (ha). I think a lot of times, many of us question the glimmers of happiness life occasionally shows us because of this semi-false feeling of “worthiness”. 

Like all things, this tends to go back to fucking capitalism and the fact that “value” or “productivity” are things that float around in our collective lexicon and bash us over the head if we so much as have a thought that has nothing to do with either of those concepts. But the funny thing is? You don’t need to be especially “worthy” to experience happiness (unless you’re a bigot because that’s a whole other conversation). You deserve a fair shot at this elusive force known as happiness just by virtue of having been born on this planet and shoved into this fucked up world.

Even if that happiness decides to find you during a global pandemic.

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