Finding Possibility in a Pandemic

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Thank goodness, we can at least appreciate that this pandemic is an only once-in-a-lifetime blip in our personal and professional lives. My heart is with anyone and everyone that experienced the worst of it, such as losing a loved one. What is unique is that it felt global, and if nothing else, we can share in our sense of displacement, inertia, and bewilderment. Oddly enough, it evokes a sense of community, even despite the emphasis on distance. We’ll be talking about this time and sharing our experiences for many, many years to come. So my question to you is: What do you want your story to be?

I was on the phone with a friend and, per the new standard of etiquette, she inquired how I was dealing with the pandemic. I proceeded to bitch about my boredom, how isolated I felt, and how frustrating it has been. She empathized and said she had been there but had adopted a growth mindset. She and her family were committed to seeing it as an opportunity. Needless to say, I prompted her to elaborate! As you (and I) are in the midst of this, it’s almost impossible to see the silver lining… it almost feels wrong to consider! What was her secret?!

Make the most of this opportunity

My friend has two kids in college and one in his last year of high school. Generally, college kids are away during this time, and high school seniors are frenzied applying to colleges. Instead, in her household, everyone is home and learning virtually. She said that to help them all with the adjustment, they have revived some old traditions and established some new practices. They go to their separate computer stations during the day and come together each night to prepare, cook and eat dinner together. She loves having them at home and getting to know them as young adults in this new slower way of life where they have the luxury of long conversations. I felt a pang of envy.

What’s your new story?

After spending some time reflecting on my conversation with my friend, a bit of which I spent on quelling my jealous twinge, it ultimately gave me a jolt of positive energy. What do I want my Covid-19 story to be? How can I best use this time? My girls have finished college and are no longer home. It’s just my husband and me now. We’re sad not to share the time with our daughters, but I can write a new script on the world’s pace and create space for myself. I thought about how I wanted to spend the time and how I could be different moving forward. I encourage you to make your own list, but here’s mine:

  • Suspend all judgments (especially about myself)
  • Read and watch anything interesting with no guilt
  • Establish a daily writing habit and publish more
  • Reconnect with friends and colleagues where I’ve lost touch
  • Make one recipe from the New York Times each week
  • Go green where possible
  • Exercise somehow, someway
  • Be genuinely, authentically me (not “people-pleasing me”)
  • Ensure that everyone I encounter feels better after an interaction with me than they felt before

What’s your new Covid-19 story?

Remember that in so many ways, this can be a chance of a lifetime. It’s an opportunity to go inward and develop new habits and emerge on the other side in a better place than where you started. You may not be able to control the pandemic, but you can control yourself, your future, your story! Make it one you are proud of.

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Kim Martin