Spring is here again, and in some parts of the country it’s that time of year when people start thinking about holidays, seeing family, maybe traveling, having a getaway. It seems as if everything has been at a standstill for so long, and life has become about working from home all the time, because what else is there to do?
Here we are, a year later, still in a pandemic, being told not to travel. We’re to stay home, stick to our bubble, so we stay close to home even though we would really like to see family we haven’t seen in a long time. I haven’t had my friends over for dinner or been to their places, let alone traveled with anyone. I’m starting to understand why so many people have hit that wall, feeling restricted. We were never meant to live in isolation. We need our friends and family to hug, to visit with. It’s what makes us human.
One of my sons is currently working three jobs, as one of the things we’ve discovered is that more and more businesses are hiring only part-time workers as of late, working around the employment standards to avoid paying overtime and benefits. Now, he works all the time, including nights. I’ve stopped counting the hours he works, likely fifty to sixty a week. You would think he would be making a decent wage, but minimum wage on part-time jobs with no benefits isn’t a living wage. Will he ever be able to find a place of his own to buy? Not in this part of the world. Unfortunately, he has been priced out of the market. We sat down and had that talk again the other day. In addition, working that many hours leaves no time for a social life. Even though having a social life is now frowned upon, with the current shutdowns and limits on social gatherings, it’s necessary to maintain one’s mental health.
Did we expect to still be in a pandemic? I don’t have a crystal ball, but when you start to understand the mental stress this is putting on the younger population, is it any wonder that with social isolation, job losses, and economic shutdowns that affect some and not others, we’re hearing of an alarming rise in suicides? My son follows politics and the news, including behind-the-scenes stuff, so when we were out the other day, he brought me up to speed on what’s going on in this country, in the US, and overseas. Good for him. When he said they’re currently counting suicides with COVID fatalities, my response was “There’s no way! You’re watching some fake news site.” But sure enough, he was right. He even forwarded me a link.
My jaw dropped, and I was speechless for a moment. I’m still wondering why. I asked my son how that was possible, and he just shrugged. I’m thankful my son still has his head screwed on straight, considering the social isolation. He should be dating, but you can’t do that anymore, right? He can’t go on a holiday with friends, go to a backyard barbecue, do the social bonding thing that young people especially need. But he doesn’t sit around. Instead, he works. I told him I’m not sure how long he can keep working long hours at three different jobs, but he’s a trooper. He keeps going.
My daughter, who is also working every day outside school, pointed out that when she graduates in June, it will be the social aspect of school that she thrives on and will miss. She has said it to me many times: “I need to be around people.” Zoom and online lessons don’t cut it. It’s a great way to work, mind you, and many have discovered that they don’t have to live in a tiny
apartment in a crazy busy city anymore because they can now work from anywhere. But that doesn’t and can’t ever replace human contact.
I know in some parts of the world, people have found ways to travel, to see friends, and some are ignoring whatever orders are in place. But that isn’t happening for everyone. As far as the upcoming summer, do you feel as if you’ve put your life on hold, or are you able to pivot and come at it from a different direction? Maybe you’ve found a bigger place, with more outdoor space, and what about seeing family? I know my kids are from the new generation, just starting their lives. For them, life’s not just a matter of getting a job, buying a house, and getting married. We seem to be in different times, and to navigate this new way of life, they’re going to have to think outside the box.
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