As this weekend marks five months of quarantine in the United States and at least eight months of Covid-19 on a global scale, we are all still navigating the constant changes that are thrown our way. There is a feeling of exhaustion and a sense of being done with everything because the answers and the rules of thumb that informed our world before are no longer the standard, and we are forced to quickly adapt.
It is easy to feel like we are alone, and that we are supposed to have all of the answers and predict what the answers will be for the future. The very nature of a quarantine lends itself to being or feeling isolated, whether that is physical or emotional. But the key thing to remember is that you are not alone.
Spotify's newest podcast, The Michelle Obama Podcast
, features the former first lady speaking with all of us about the lessons she has learned over her lifetime and the wisdom she wants to pass on. As she states in her opening message, the former first lady intends for this podcast and this first season to reflect on the relationships that shape us all, whether that is the one we have with ourselves, with our friends, or the one we have beyond even those.
The first episode
, with former President Barack Obama
as the guest, touches on the relationship we have to our community as a whole, the individual impact we have on it, and the impact it has on us. While it may seem like our individual contributions are small on a national scale, our actions have a bigger impact on the community level and may even be the change and help that another person needed.
For this first discussion, the Obamas talk about the support systems that were in place during their childhood, but those kinds of systems are not the norm in today's world. There is less focus and attention given to “us” and “we” with the shift being towards “us versus them.”
This behavior and perspective is ultimately destructive to communities and relationships because it sets people up for loneliness and burnout. You don't feel like you can ask for help because you worry that others will see you as weak or undeserving. You feel that you must take on everything by yourself because our current society has told us that is the measure of strength and merit. But this idea of having it all sets us up for feeling like we are missing out on something because our neighbor has a nicer car or our coworker is able to go on vacations more often. So you work and work yourself to the bone for a goal that may feel just out of reach. This “us versus them” mentality only works to create more distance between you and others, even the people who you perceive to be in your community. You start to view the distances between you and those surrounding you as necessary if you are to succeed.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of courage and strength and self-awareness because you recognize that there may be a skill you don't know yet and reach out to someone who can teach you. You might need a supportive hand or arm to help with your kids because you are working double time to provide a happy and secure home for them. There are so many reasons why we all need help from time to time, but as the Obamas point out, we are not meant to do it all on our own.
They talk about the helping hands that were extended out to them and the ones that they reached out to others, and this behavior is even more applicable in today's society than it was 50 years ago. Aside from it being the right and fulfilling thing to do, helping out others means that they will remember your kindness and help you in the future in whatever way they can. Not just in a tangible way, like giving money or gifts, but in a broader sense as well. The person you help today may have the words of wisdom and advice to share with you tomorrow. The former president mentions a time when a childhood friend of his spent the night at his home most days of the week because it was closer to their school and his parents worked long hours. Obama's family fed his friend and looked out for him, with no other reasoning than it was what their friend and community member needed.
There is still uncertainty about what lies ahead for the country and the world when we talk about Covid-19 and our new normal. But one thing that is certain is that, in whatever way, we need to lend a hand to those in need.
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