You Don’t Have to Be Anne Frank

Entering the second month of social distancing seems like we’re all getting a little cranky. If you’re like me, you’ve put on a stiff upper lip and soldiered on. You limit your complaints to your frustration at not being able to go to the store or out to dinner. But you don’t admit to all the other emotions. Perhaps you have some idea of how someone in isolation should act. Perhaps, like me, you hold memories of Anne Frank up as a measuring stick for success. But you don’t have to be Anne Frank.

Image of smiling Anne Frank--in social isolation you don't have to be Anne Frank

Diary of A Young Girl

I read the Diary of a Young Girl (AKA Diary of Anne Frank)  in high school and found it profoundly moving. A fourteen-year-old girl had to live in hiding for two years. She didn’t have a choice whether to hide or not. She didn’t have a prom or a graduation. And she didn’t have a choice with whom she hid. Cut off from friends and the life she knew, she documented her thoughts and dreams and frustrations in her diary.

Where there’s hope, there’s life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.

Anne Frank was young, only thirteen, when her sister received a summons to report to a Nazi work camp in Germany. The family went into hiding.

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God.

Anne Frank

The Diary

Initially diary Anne recorded the thoughts and feelings of a young girl whose life had taken an extraordinary turn. Then she heard a London radio broadcast made by the exiled Dutch Minister for Education, Art, and Science, Gerrit Bolkestein. He called for the preservation of “ordinary documents—a diary, letters … simple everyday material” to create an archive for posterity as testimony to the suffering of civilians during the Nazi occupation. She rewrote her diary at that point, refining it as a testimony.

As long as this exists, this sunshine and this cloudless sky, and as long as I can enjoy it, how can I be sad?

Anne Frank

Brave and Kind and Wise

In the hidden room, Anne had to be quiet. She had to tolerate living with strangers. Though, of course they didn’t stay strangers.

I think it’s odd that grown-ups quarrel so easily and so often and about such petty matters. Up to now I always thought bickering was just something children did and that they outgrew it.

Anne Frank

She admitted to not loving her mother as much as she thought she should. And she expressed her dislike of certain of her roommates.

I can’t imagine how anyone can say: ‘I’m weak’, and then remain so. After all, if you know it, why not fight against it, why not try to train your character?

Anne Frank

Anne had a lot of time to think. She wrote with a maturity and courage beyond her year. She showed extraordinary kindness, understanding, and bravery.

There’s only one rule you need to remember: laugh at everything and forget everybody else! It sound egotistical, but it’s actually the only cure for those suffering from self-pity.

Anne Frank

Two years and one month after going into hiding, the Nazis found Anne and her family. The Nazis separated them and took them to different Nazi camps.

Only Anne’s father survived.

When he returned, friends gave him Anne’s diary. In time, he had it published.

Those who have courage and faith shall never perish in misery.

Anne Frank

You Don’t Have to be Anne Frank

For most of us quarantine is similar to the isolation Anne Frank lived, but it’s not the same. We can make noise. We can cry or scream out our frustrations. And if you know your level of stress, you can use your mental health first aid kit

However, the lessons we can learn from this young girl are many. If you haven’t read the Diary of a Young Girl, check it out. Also check out the museum Anne Frank House.

We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.

Anne Frank

You don’t have to write a diary. You don’t have to be Anne Frank. But the next time you feel frustrated by the duration of this period of social distancing, remember Anne Frank. I know I will. And I’ll try to be a better me.

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