There are significant events in each of our lives that change us. The older we are, the more there may be. We remember bad things as having a greater impact on our lives then when good things occur.
I would argue though the event itself is irrelavant. The degree of change depends on how much stress a given situation imposes on us. Either internally by what we make of it or externally by what what happens to us.
Compassion rarely changes lives. Hearing of the struggles of a friend gives us insight into their difficulties. We care deeply for them and possibly hurt to see them struggle. But as soon as they leave, we go on with our life with the same habits and routines as before. Even when there are parts of their story we can relate to.
Changes in our health may or may not cause changes in our life. Gradual weight increase or mild hypertension requiring a pill gives most the green light to continue living our life the same way. But when diagnosed with a heart condition or cancer that require procedures, follow ups, and extended treatment we find interest in change. The stress of the severity of the diagnosis magnifies the impact of the event motivating us to make permanent changes in the way we live.
The stress of the pandemic has been quite uneven. A hospital worker seeing the effects of COVID at its worst, day in and day out, can’t help but change you because of the emotional toll of suffering seen daily. Small business employers who must lay off their staff faced stress they had never experienced before. Loyal employees who were not out of a job faced survival and uncertainty for caring for their family for the first time.
Those who got to work everyday, yet remain isolated at home, never had the same type of stress pushed into their lives. For these individuals, quite possibly divorce, infertility, or difficult children could place greater stress on their lives than even a pandemic.
Degrees of stress affect all of us. The much written perspective that everything will pass just doesn’t work because we are human and things effect us. What is more important to understand is that it is when we are stressed the most, that we are challenged to adjust and adapt in ways we never thought we could before. Stress helps nurture personal growth and change. Even though it never feels that way when you are in the middle of it.