April 15, 2020
How are you? No, really. How are you? Such a simple pleasantry has so much more weight these days as the world struggles to get through this pandemic. That simple phrase is something we all tossed off with ease when we bumped into acquaintances, answered a phone call, sent an email or responded to a text. But how often do we really stop to listen to the answer? That is if the person even pauses long enough to give an honest answer.
I realized last week that while I truly care how people are doing, I hadn’t paused long enough to get past the pleasantries and really ask. So, I asked. I asked in private conversations. I checked in on some people. And I asked my friends and family en masse through my private Facebook page. I was stunned at how many people responded. Family, friends, coworkers all responded with sometimes gut-wrenching honesty.
There were common themes of feeling scared, stressed and nervous. There were heartbreaking posts from people with very ill family members. But, amidst all of that, there was kindness, support, hope and a sense of community. It made me realize the power of a simple question. How are you?
Me? Count me in the numbers of people who feel scared, stressed and nervous. Throw in feelings of anger, sadness, gratefulness, guilt, exhaustion and, yes, hopeful, and that pretty much sums it up. I’m also proud of my friends, family, coworkers, university and state leaders who are doing the right things, even when it’s not easy.
I’m also proud to be a Spartan and proud that our president, Samuel Stanley, took quick action to protect the MSU community and beyond and continues to be the leader we need. Did you know he’s also an infectious disease physician? Read a column he recently penned for the Lansing State Journal that addresses the importance of keeping our distance.
I’m so proud of all of the Spartans who are doing amazing things right now. I literally can’t keep up with all of the news that is flying into my inbox or taking over my social media accounts. From coming up with a new 10-minute COVID-19 test and utilizing big data to identify treatment drugs to answering questions about the disease and asthma or pets and finding ways to virtually serve others, Spartans are rising to the most invasive challenge I’ve seen in my lifetime.
Speaking of rising to the challenge, Norman J. Beauchamp Jr., M.D., MHS is MSU’s executive vice president for health science, recently penned a column on that exact topic. Read his FACULTY VOICE: Rising to the challenge, to learn why he says, “Challenge can bring out the best in people, and Spartan excellence is a source of hope and comfort for many.”
Want to know how you can rise to the challenge? How about helping a student who is struggling with unanticipated emergency expenses because of COVID-19. If you can, join others and donate to the “Support Our Spartans” emergency fund.
I know that my connections with my Spartan family are definitely giving me hope and comfort. Shout out to all of those who have taken the time to ask me how I am. It definitely depends on the day. Some days I feel like I’m knocking it out of the park. Others? Well, I’m not embarrassed to admit I’ve also been curled up in a ball on the floor crying.
I think I also must have had a bit of the shinin’ happening last week when I wrote that mistakes might be made and to go easy on ourselves. I needed to remember that a couple of times since writing that. I’m not perfect. No one is. We’re all doing the best we can under extraordinary circumstances. We must grant grace to others and to ourselves. Stay home. Stay safe. #SpartansWill.