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COVID-19 is introducing us to someone we haven't met

Ruben Navarrette Jr. on

SAN DIEGO -- What effect does a global pandemic, and nearly two months of isolation, have on a person's soul?

The Boss got it right. Bruce Springsteen has talked about his personal battle with depression and how introspection helped him overcome it. Getting to know yourself -- really know yourself -- is powerful. It can also be terrifying.

In his song, "Better Days," Springsteen writes that "it's a sad man, my friend, who's livin' in his own skin and can't stand the company."

These days, millions of Americans are livin' in their own skin. And one can only hope that the process of staying at home -- surrounded by the members of our immediate family and leaving behind many of the distractions that once seemed important enough to fill our days -- has allowed us to get to know ourselves as we never have before.

Be warned though. Spending a lot of quality time with yourself is not for the faint of heart. You may not like what you find.

Just because a quarantine is introducing you to yourself, doesn't mean the two of you are going to hit it off.

 

I shared this thought with a friend, who agrees that being locked down in the suburban version of solitary confinement has forced him to become intimately acquainted with the man in the mirror. With surprising results.

"I'm tired of myself," he tells me with a chuckle. "I feel like, everything a person is experiencing right now, there is a reason for that. If you're not being invited to a lot of virtual cocktail parties, that should tell you something. Maybe you need to be a better friend, a better person."

Guilty on all counts. I need to be both. But I'd also add to the list: a better son, a better husband and a better father. Basically, I'm due for an upgrade all the way around.

As my friend points out, Americans' constant companion through the coronavirus crisis is fear. We fear being alone, contracting the virus, spreading it to loved ones, losing our jobs, no longer being able to support our families, the collapse of the food supply, and the disintegration of the U.S. economy.

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