It’s 8:50 am, and I’m standing in line at a local Tim Horton’s in downtown Toronto. Five people rushed in front of me, all in two seconds.
While I wait, I contemplate how I can make it to my (then) placement on time. A lady who had just finished ordering her coffee walked past me and said, “I’m glad I came before rush hour.”
I’m experiencing stress about being late, and then someone makes a snarky comment. How rude.
Two months later, I remember a conversation with a colleague. It went something like this:
“People act so strangely these days,” I said.
They replied, “Yeah, it’s because of COVID.”
I suddenly thought of that moment at Tim Hortons. I noticed many people have been giving each other an attitude. And that includes me.
I’m lashing out a lot more.
One time, I was buying groceries with my roommate. When we checked out, I told the cashier that I wanted only one plastic bag.
“I don’t think it’ll fit,” she replied innocently, with a stern tone.
“Oh, but I have a backpack, and my roommate does too,” I replied.
My roommate laughed nervously. And I didn’t realize what I did wrong until the cashier lashed out at me with the word “OKAY.”
This made me question, “What kind of person have I become?” I never realized that my reply came off as aggressive until I saw how others reacted.
But before that conversation, I clearly remembered what had happened. I was worried about being able to afford rent and other living expenses in a large, metropolitan city. I despise doing groceries because I’m constantly reminded of how expensive products are. And on that particular day, I was the one who was paying for the groceries, which perhaps made me lose my cool.
Additionally, I was worried about other things. I was annoyed that the placement was unpaid. Also, I was exhausted from working two jobs to support myself. It honestly was too much to handle, and I felt like I had no other choice.
Unfortunately, stress piled on me to the point where I lost my patience. I have less tolerance for people. Whenever people would ask me questions, I’d shut down. But I’m not the only one — that’s also the case for everyone else.
We all feel that burst of anger whenever we have to spend more money, get stuck in traffic, or wait in a long line to purchase coffee. The world seems so fast-paced to the point where there’s no stop. It’s a constant hustle. And because of that, we forget about others.
We can’t stand more than a two-minute interaction without lashing out. Whenever we’re unsatisfied with our lives, we take it out on others. It’s unhealthy, but for us, it’s a short-term coping mechanism.
But what made us like this? Is it because we were confined in our homes for over a year?
Well, it’s more than that.
Many of us are being affected by inflation, which causes financial stress. Because prices are increasing, we’re exhausted by trying to make ends meet. Some of us work multiple jobs to save up, while others have to change their living conditions. There’s less free time on our hands and more worry about the uncertain future.
But why have we become this way? Instead of being empathetic, we decide to only care about ourselves.
It may be because we haven’t had a chance to slow down, which often leads to stress.
We’re all conditioned to get ahead. Constantly getting ahead means finding yourself in stressful situations. You feel as if you’re in a racecar, even if it wasn’t your choice.
But no matter how stressful this world is, we all face the same challenges. We’re all affected by high living costs and job layoffs. We’re all scrambling to save up. We know it’s difficult, but we shouldn’t be perpetuating negative attitudes.
If only we could empathize with what others are going through, we’d stop this cycle. It’s hard, but we can make the change within ourselves and others.
So next time you go to a store, say, “Thank you,” to the cashier or barista. When you’re stuck in traffic, remind yourself that you will eventually make it to work. When things get overwhelming, unwind and go for a walk. But most importantly, when others are giving you an attitude, give them a pat on the back and remind them to take it easy.
As they all say, this too shall pass.
Featured image via Darina Belonogova on Pexels