My entire life, my dad has been my most positive reinforcer. He taught me from an early age to always put everything in perspective.
Anytime I thought that the world was ending, he would always whip out the imaginary scale and ask me if what I was complaining about was truly that big of a deal. This scale is known as 1-99 — anything close to 1 is not a big deal at all, while 99 would be as extreme as the world ending, and all my loved ones disappearing — or, in other words, an apocalypse.
Throughout my life, when I became upset or stressed, my dad would make me refer to the scale in order to bring myself back to Earth and truly find perspective in the situation I was in. From losing tennis matches to getting a bad grade on a test, my dad would always have me refer back to the scale which, in return, made me realize that at the end of the day, out of everything that could possibly happen in terms of severity, whatever I was stressing over or upset about was not always significant in the grand scheme of things.
Eventually, as I matured, I was able to whip out the imaginary scale on my own to really put my worries and problems in perspective. It really helped me reduce my stress levels and cured my constant dwelling on situations where most were not even in my control.
Fast forward until about two weeks ago.
All of my dad’s teachings for an instant went down the drain. I found out that I would not be able to go back to Lehigh, I couldn’t see my friends until who knows when, my semester was cut short, and my routine and senses of comfort completely vanished in what seemed like a split second, out of my control. I instantly became sad, turned to complaining, worrying and constantly talking about how “unfair” all of this is.
At that exact moment, I felt that my situation was at least an 80 on the 1-99 scale — which, for me, was a huge deal, since most of the times when I put things into perspective, I could not get past a 15 without sounding silly.
Thankfully, all of my dad’s teachings did not completely go to waste in a span of minutes. I stopped for a second, took a step back, and began to realize how I am one of the lucky ones.
I began to think of the seniors in college who will end their college careers without their best friends by their side, unable to walk for graduation, a moment that most dream about for a lifetime.
Then, my mind turned to the international students who are in completely different time zones and have to manage packing up all of their stuff, and then going back to their native country while struggling to keep up with their regularly-scheduled classes.
The students who went abroad for a semester, who were hoping to devote their semesters in a foreign country and have probably been looking forward to this experience for a really long time like I have been.
But then I went even bigger, thinking about the people who have underlying conditions and are constantly terrified of possibly contracting the virus, or have family members who have passed away from it.
The people who are supposed to get married. The elderly. The businesses which have no way of staying afloat. The list goes on.
So, I am here to challenge you. Every time you feel that your world is crumbling and there is no way out, put your situation on a scale from 1-99, and you will see that you might be luckier than you previously thought.
There are always worse situations and poorer conditions to be in. The important thing to remember is that everyone is going through this and has to deal with the repercussions.
It is how you respond to dire situations like this, however, that will determine the type of person you intend to be. It is our duty as a society to stay strong for people who might be close to the 99 section of the scale. Because, at the end of the day, ask yourself. Is it really that big of a deal?
Jessica Raytsin is an associate lifestyle editor for The Brown and White. She can be reached at [email protected]