Personally, I relate to a lot of phrases from the television show, “Friends.” One quote, in particular, stands out to me approaching New Year’s Eve and it’s technically not even in the show.
The theme song of the sitcom, called, “I’ll Be There for You,” is a song by The Rembrandts. Fans of the show will certainly know which line I am referring to.
“When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year, but I’ll be there for you, (When the rain starts to pour), I’ll be there for you, (Like I’ve been there before), I’ll be there for you, (’Cause you’re there for me too).”
The year that seemed it would never end, is about to end. I find as I get older the New Year starts to sound more and more like science-fiction. To me, 2021 sounds like the year a movie about flying cars would be set in. Not only are we far away from that technology, but we also have many more issues to address at the moment.
The COVID-19 pandemic will not disappear at the moment the clock strikes midnight and neither will the deep political division in the United States and the world. With a few exceptions, I think it is safe to say that it has not been anyone’s day, month, and certainly not their year. Above all else, I think we can agree on that.
That is something we have in common. In fact, if you talk to people with different viewpoints than your own often, you’ll find that humans agree on a lot more than we give ourselves credit for.
Our innate similarities have been studied by many, including American Psychologist, Abraham Maslow. While there is little scientific basis for his theory, “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs,” aligns with many other theories on human developmental psychology.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory of psychological health based on fulfilling innate human needs in priority, completed by self-actualization.
In most cases, including my college psychology classes, Maslow’s theory is taught in the form of a pyramid, with basic needs like food, water, warmth, and rest forming the base of the pyramid.
Once these base needs are met, the next level is safety needs. Once we have food, water, warmth, rest, and safety, we can move onto “belongingness and love needs,” such as intimate relationships and friendships. Next is “esteem needs” such as prestige and feeling accomplished. Topping of the pyramid is “self-actualization,” achieving your full potential including creative activities.
The idea behind Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is that our base needs must be met before we can fulfill the four other needs of the pyramid.
For many, 2020 removed at least part of that base layer of food, water, warmth, rest, and safety and left them to attempt to maintain the higher levels of the pyramid, without its base. Even those of us who were blessed enough to keep our jobs and homes are missing at least one section of the pyramid: belongingness and love needs.
In a year of social distancing and missed events and occasions, many are left feeling an overwhelming sense of isolation, which, according to Maslow, reduces our ability to fulfill our esteem and self-actualization needs.
No matter which part of your pyramid of needs you lost this year, we all lost one: safety. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken away our idea of our own safety. A healthy fear and caution is just fine, but a pandemic? Boarded up stores and isolation? I think we can all agree we lost part of our safety foundation this year.
At the time of this writing, vaccines are starting to be administered. Advice from our officials tells us to wear our masks, stay socially distant, and wait for the vaccine.
Without a definite end in sight, we all have something in common: our safety has been compromised (to a certain degree), and we have no choice but to wait.
We are all scared and scrambling, but the best thing we can do to make 2021 a better year, is to be there for each other. No matter what, at a base level, humans are similar. We need to love and be loved. We need to be safe. We need food and water. We need to rest. We need to feel accomplished. We need to achieve our potential. With our similarities in mind, let’s show some compassion in the New Year. We still have some months to go, and we need to be there for each other.
So, in 2021, “I’ll be there for you when the rain starts to pour like I’ve been there before because you’re there for me too,” right?
— Contact Emily Rice at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @BDTrice