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I Can’t Breathe: 3 Simple Words Everyone Can Relate To

“I can’t breathe.”

It’s amazing how three little words can carry so much weight. It’s almost become the running mantra for 2020, only it doesn’t bring much calm to the anxiety. The same way “I love you” marks a seminal moment for many people on the verge of exciting life-changing events, “I can’t breathe” has the exact opposite effect.

From George Floyd and Elijah McClain to the 122,000 (and counting) people who have lost their lives to COVID-19 to kids who can’t pay their rent, adults whose sinking businesses can no longer stay afloat and the recent spike in divorce rates and on and on down we tumble down this rabbit hole of hell. Everyone feels like they can’t breathe right now, but at least we’re not alone (unless you’ve been isolating by yourself for four months).

Most people would probably prefer to take a mulligan and throw in the 2020 towel, but this thing is far from over (plus that’s not really an option).

Sure, if you’re down 65-0 at halftime, you’re not interested in going back out on that field for fear of further humiliation and agony. You might feel like we’re at a low point, but it’s not even July. The question is: Are you willing to get back out there and give it your best and see if we can’t make a respectable comeback, hell, maybe even make some history?

Sounds mildly unrealistic, sure, but how can we truly appreciate the sweetness of life if we don’t at least catch of whiff of what rock bottom smells like? Lots of people live down there every single day; they can taste it, yet they’re still here. And so are you. So despite all the pain and hardship of this daily nightmare, you might say 2020 perhaps has more potential than any year to have its greatest moments. With the right perspective, anything is possible.

We All Have an Anxiety Monster Inside Us, You Should Be More Worried If You Don’t

This quarantine might seem endless and awful, but it’s removed so many distractions and pointless activities from our lives that we can see clearly what’s wrong. And maybe that’s why so much is happening all at once. Maybe things can’t let up until we take care of them, ourselves and each other.

We’ve got three more words for you: I can overcome. Better yet: We shall overcome.

Can’t breathe because of George Floyd, Elijah McClain and countless other innocent Black Americans? Good, pick up the phone, write a letter to someone and show up in November to vote for people who will make the changes we need. We might be stuck at home, but we use this time to do everything in our power to see that laws are changed, people are held accountable and these people’s names are not forgotten.

Can’t breathe because people are dying from COVID and you’re worried about your friends and families and fellow Americans on a monthly, weekly, daily and hourly basis? Good, that means you’re smart enough to know this is a real problem and not a political stunt, but also man enough to be responsible and wear a mask, socially distance yourself and be a helpful son, brother, friend and neighbor. Put on some gloves, take in your neighbor’s trash. Give a gift card to a friend who can’t cook worth a damn. Send your isolated friends flowers or chocolate or a funny letter. Send art kits to friends with kids. They’ll mail you back watercolors for your fridge, it’s great.

Can’t breathe because your relationship is in the toilet after spending 120 days with your girlfriend and you’ve been projecting all your anxiety, hatred and frustrations on her? Good, spend the next 120 days making it up to her.

Can’t breathe because your best friend can’t pay his rent and might be out on his butt next month? Good, you have the chance to help him out. He has the rest of his life to repay you, if he hasn’t already pulled your butt out of the fire on multiple occasions.

Can’t breathe because the restaurant you swore by every Friday night is struggling? Good, you can buy takeout there once a week, only now you can take some of that government money to leave a big, fat tip and a note that says you can’t wait to see them when they reopen so they can kick you out for staying too late.

Can’t breathe right now as you read this? Good. Maybe that means it’s time for a breath of fresh air. Let’s come out of this 2020 halftime and see if we can’t get out there and make things happen (just don’t forget your helmet)!

So what do you say? Are you man enough?

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Cover: Altanaka (Envato Elements)