I didn’t deserve this.
I’m not a healthcare worker or a first responder. I’m not 65 and I don’t have a high-risk medical condition.
But when I took my elderly mother to get her first dose of a COVID vaccine, the clinic offered me one, too. Maybe because it was already thawed and they had filled all their appointments for the day and it would go to waste otherwise. I don’t know. But I heard a doctor on TV say when you’re offered a vaccine, take it. So I did.
And even though I didn’t bribe anyone or jump a line, I felt guilty.
Especially because the next day, I got a text from a dear friend and mentor, Nick. He had just spent a couple weeks in an ICU because of COVID. He was home now, on oxygen, but he was facing a long recovery.
We didn’t deserve COVID. We didn’t deserve the leadership failures it exposed. We didn’t deserve to be shamed and divided. We didn’t deserve to lose half a million friends, family and neighbors.
And just as I didn’t deserve that vaccine, I never deserved mentors like Nick. They don’t want anything from us. They just see something good in us and want to see us grow.
I’ve had only a few mentors. They’ve shown up at odd times in my life. When I was at a crossroads, when I was unsure of my next step, or when my enemies were closing in. There was the 7th grade teacher who taught me how to write. There was my college music professor who went bar hopping with me in Madrid after midnight, seeking the magic and mystery of flamenco. And there was Nick, pushing me to trust my intuition, take on risk and grow my business.
Most of them are gone now, retired or deceased. But if given the chance I’m sure none of them would say that guilt and regret are good ways to spend your time. I think they’d all say the same thing, instead:
Feel grateful, not guilty.
Show your gratitude for the opportunities you’ve been given by giving others those same opportunities.
So be grateful for vaccines that prevent horrible diseases. And be grateful for scientists who spent decades studying how to make them safe and effective. And be grateful that each of them had mentors like Nick, encouraging them to do their best work, against all odds.