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I feel I’ve lost a year of my life to COVID. But I know others have it worse. Am I still allowed to complain?
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I feel I’ve lost a year of my life to COVID. But I know others have it worse. Am I still allowed to complain?

Dear reader, I know your pain. I know I’m lucky to have survived this pandemic unscathed (so far), so a part of me feels guilty for hating my circumstances. Why do I have the right to feel so horrible when others feel worse? If you have these nagging feelings of guilt as well, remember that all wounds, no matter how severe, deserve treatment. If there are enough bandages, a cut deserves treatment even if someone else lost their arm.

You have the right to demand change. The forces that made your life terrible for a year are the same forces that made someone else’s life even worse. So long as you complain in the right direction, your voice can amplify the voices of people who lost even more than you.

But even beyond that, don’t discount your own experiences. If only the person with the worst situation is allowed to complain, only one person with outlandishly cruel circumstances can speak. Your pain represents a pain that affects almost everyone. You’re one member a group of people that needs to advocate for themselves, not just an individual with a grievance.

Pain isn’t a quantifiable substance. We can’t just weigh it on a scale. You deserve to not be in pain. Not only should you acknowledge it, you should complain about it.

Instead of dividing ourselves into stratifications based on our level of pain, we should be acknowledging our shared experiences. We should turn our collective experiences against the institutions that caused this pandemic to be as terrible as it was. Instead of arguing about who felt the worst, we need to make sure no one has to argue about who had the worst pandemic pain again.

Complain about economic systems. Complain about healthcare. Complain about housing. Complain about inequality. You deserve to express your pain. You lost a year that you’ll never get back. Be angry. You’ll find others who feel the same.

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