Writer: Natalie Chevrel
Below are my stream-of-consciousness, jumbled quarantined musings along with some Venezuelan dishes that I urge you to try! As we’re all cooped up in our homes, 2020 has turned out to be the year for internal monologues and ample amounts of rejuvenating silence. As we all look for solidarity in these tough moments, I hope you, the reader, will be able to relate to a shared sentiment throughout my self-reflection.
In choosing what to share this week with the MB community and audience, I get overwhelmed with this thought: our world, and especially our nation, is experiencing so much negativity at the moment. Given this context, why would I want to write about something that may seem unimportant and will not contribute in some way to making it better?
This thought runs through my head every time I want to post something on my social media. I get overwhelmed with this sense of guilt that I shouldn’t be showing what's making me happy in the moment, because so many people right now are suffering.
It can be as simple as a picture of my food or my dog, yet I overthink it a million times, and friends of mine have shared they often feel the same way.
A few weeks ago my mom spent a whole day in the kitchen making delicious Lebanese food for my brother’s birthday. Although the first thing I wanted to do was film it and share it with others, I thought—Lebanon just had a massive explosion, and so many are suffering right now while I am enjoying this Lebanese meal with my family. Out of respect and empathy, I thought, maybe this is not the right way to validate the situation.
A few months ago I had a pool day at my house, and although I wanted to share a picture of my family and I enjoying the pool, I thought: there are people who are stuck in their small apartments in New York City during quarantine. Out of respect and empathy, I shouldn’t share my blessings.
Especially during this pandemic, it is natural to feel guilty or sensitive about sharing our blessings on social media, given that many people are physically, emotionally, and financially unstable.
However, these constant thoughts of “I feel bad”, and “I don’t want to seem insensitive” can be extremely tiring and negative for one’s mental health. I personally decide to take social media breaks much more often as a way to feel better.
I then remind myself that social media is not real life. It does not truly speak to who you are, i.e. your essence. It is such a small part of the big picture, and the people closest to you understand that. And at the end of the day, these are the people that matter most. Who you are as a person is not determined by the pictures you post, nor the small part of your life that you choose to share with others. Personally, as a Catholic, I know that what truly describes my worth is that I am a child of God. That alone should suffice to make me understand that our worth goes far beyond who we may be in the eyes of others, those whom we don’t share much with in real life. And for those of you who do not identify as Catholic, I understand and value the belief that we are the only people that get to describe and dictate our worth, and that there is no one else that should be able to define who you are simply based on external judgment.
These reflections bring me to a few conclusions:
It’s important to understand and be aware of the lie that social media can often be.
Enjoying your own life and your blessings is not mutually exclusive with being empathetic with the world community.
At the end of the day, who you truly are is between you and God, and/or between you and those that get to discover your essence, those whose opinions matter most.
So, my take is that you should not feel bad for your blessings. Further than that, however, I believe that we must look out for our world’s communities and be a helping hand in any way we can.
On this same note, having experienced my childhood in Venezuela, I, along with every other Venezuelan who has had to leave their country, feel immense grief for its worsening crisis.
To provide you with some facts, if measured solely by income levels, some 96% of the population lives in poverty. With uncontrolled inflation leaving the local bolivar currency nearly worthless, Venezuelans' average income was just 72 US cents per day, and this was before the pandemic (Aljazeera). Five million people have fled Venezuela since 2015. Access to healthcare is so scarce. Quality of life is non-existent for the majority of the population. We don’t know when this nightmare will end, but some of us are trying to help in ways that we can.
Knowing what my country is going through, sharing with others the positive aspects of Venezuela and the fond traditions my family has shared with me should not make me feel guilty. I instead choose to see this as something I am extremely grateful for and want others to enjoy as well.
Embracing life with all of its blessings AND tragedies is what we should choose to do, as no human being is immune to pain or suffering. We can respect, we can be empathetic, we can walk alongside others, we can be a helping hand, all while being grateful for our own blessings and sharing them with others.
This being said, here are a few Venezuelan dishes that I URGE you to try whenever possible. I promise you won’t regret it!
PABELLÓN DE CAZÓN:
ENJOY!!! & remember to be grateful for and not ashamed of your blessings