We are all Will Smith 14 months into the pandemic, and that's OK

The film star recently posted a photo decrying his 'bad shape', and it's a reminder to smile and persevere in the face of uncertainty

Sometimes, you just need to let it all out.

That is what Will Smith did on his social media this week, posting a picture of himself with his torso on show.

“I’m gonna be real with y'all,” he wrote. “I’m in the worst shape of my life.”

While that’s relative, of course, there is no denying that Smith's once-famed physique has changed of late.

Who can forget that slow motion shot of a bare-chested Smith sprinting down the streets of Miami in Bad Boys?

As he said in previous interviews, that montage in the 1996 blockbuster was enough to change the path of his career.

It transformed perceptions of him from the loveable clown from sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to a bona fide leading man and action star.

That's what makes Smith's most recent post both endearing and unexpectedly profound. The image also captures how, for many people, the pandemic pushed us off the wagon, so to speak. Suddenly, those minor goals were lost or deferred. Unimportant.

A hermit’s existence

For many of us, the coronavirus will be the most disruptive periods in our lifetime.

As well the tragedy of having those we know succumb to the illness, the last 14 months have brought their own number of everyday losses.

From the early pandemic days of stay-at-home orders, closed restaurants and shuttered cinemas and parks, to today's yearning for mass gatherings and travelling abroad, the effects are still being felt far and wide.

While it's tempting to shrug it all off and be grateful – which we should, everyday – these things add up and the effects are pernicious.

For me, that resulted in a worrying drop in attention span, with a growing pile of unfinished books and half watched movies forever on my to-finish list.

I cooked less and ordered out more, and the frequent gym session became a rarity.

All this on top of gradually withdrawing further within myself.

The constant back and forth of Zoom during the work day rendered me a hermit at night, as I often sat at home for hours in silence staring at a muted television screen.

These are not healthy developments, obviously, and I managed to get myself back to some form of functioning social life.

However, that sense of lost time and listlessness, remains.

A moment of grace

But you know what? Maybe that’s okay. We shouldn’t beat ourselves up about it.

While some life ambitions and opportunities may have fallen at the wayside, we need to ultimately remind ourselves that the pandemic is a shared experience, with the whole world seemingly on pause for the foreseeable future.

I keep reminding myself of that to stop me from cancelling the gym or choosing to stay home and brood when I could be seeing a friend for dinner.

Instead of falling to the challenges of the pandemic in despair, maybe we should all take a leaf out of Smith's book. So maybe we aren't in the best shape of our lives, physically or mentally. But we all deserve to gift ourselves a moment of grace.