On the dot, on the mark, on the spot, whichever way you want to go about this; the point is, TIME magazine believes it is essential, and never fails to name its person of the year in a perfectly timed matter. What about a word of the year? – 2020 has given us plenty to talk about throughout this longer-than-usual year. Today, I feel it is my responsibility to talk about all that has NOT been discussed, addressed, or deemed essential in 2020. Nonetheless, let's not begin without my nomination for the word of the year: "Non-Essential."
To: those of you who have followed my blog entries throughout the years, please do not worry; I do not plan to break my golden rule. I will not write and political blog and use it to agitate views from one side or another.
To: the nurses, medical assistants, custodians, administrative / I.T. staff, and doctors in the frontline staring at the eyes of demise, A BIG THANK YOU.
The other day I watched an interview with Mike Rowe, the host of Dirty Jobs. Mike Rowe has made a career of showing how vital in our everyday lives these "dirty jobs" are. In the interview, Mr. Rowe made a compelling case that highlighted an array of harmful byproducts that could result from calling someone's existence non-essential.
As a mental health therapist in mind, I immediately challenged the "could result" with "It's already happening." - It's been tough for mental health professionals across the nation. We are not immune or exempt from the negative consequences of 2020. It hit me with a direct shot; my dad passed away this year. Nonetheless, I gathered strength from forgotten places to keep going and provide the best mental health care I could. What I couldn't do, however, was to address my clients dealing with depression and anxiety as: "non-essential."
The jury is still out on the depth and seriousness of the mental health challenges we will face. Regardless of what we are confronting, the need for human connection remains to be one of the more significant human needs.
Cacioppo & Patrick (2008) say it best:
"When we feel socially connected, as most of us feel most of the time, we tend to attribute success to our actions and failure to bad luck. When we feel socially isolated and depressed, we tend to reverse this useful illusion and turn even small errors into catastrophes – at least in our minds."
Please understand me here; I'm not saying ignore all the scientific advice you have been given and socialize. As one of Neil deGrasse Tyson's biggest fans, I'm a science man myself. You must find a safe and responsible way to find that human connection. Science has never failed me, and it was the science that delivered the vaccine. So please continue to follow all CDC guidelines.
To: all mental health therapists and social workers out there, THANK YOU.
To: all the scientists who have worked non-stop to develop life-saving vaccines, THANK YOU.
As you may have noticed, I refuse to address this year and our struggles as the pandemic year, not that I'm ignoring it, but rather not overlooking all the great things that have happened to people this year. I get it; the advertisement-driven news outlets still control the narrative; if they want to focus on that, I will focus on the weddings, the graduations, the job promotions, the adoptions, and all the other triumphs people experienced during this year.
To: Ms. Garcia, a single mother in Brownsville, Texas who sells tamales to provide for her three children, you are essential
To: Esteban, the most honest taxicab driver in Mexico City who will go out of his make to make sure you are not taken advantage of; you are essential.
To: The restaurant and business owners in California, New York, and all over the world, you are essential.
To: Luis, a fisherman in Puerto Caimito Panama, you are essential.
To: All the musicians and artists who bring us joy and happiness through their art, you are essential.
Glausiusz, J. (2008). Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection. Discover., 29(8), 73.
"Mike Rowe Blasts Politicians Who Deemed Many Workers' Non-Essential'." Fox News, FOX News Network, video.foxnews.com/v/6217029273001.