As places are opening up and pandemic restrictions are lifted, people look forward to returning to “normal.”
Sure, I’m thrilled to plan day trips with my family and be able to be amongst more people without an extreme fear of contracting a virus, but a part of me is already mourning what I have gained in the past 14 months.
I was gifted two more hours in my day merely by not having to commute to work. Being able to shut down my laptop and walk straight into my living room without breathing in exhaust fumes, waiting for green lights, or rerouting due to road construction is liberating!
Additionally, I was able to spend more time with my kids as they both attended school virtually, including an extra year with my son who attended his first year of college; it’s selfish, I know!
Lastly, but most importantly, if 2020 would have been like any other year, nobody would have been home when a fire broke out in our house that was caused by an electric surge due to road constructions! Since I was home, I was able to not only call 911, but extinguish the fire with a mix of an extinguisher and good old-fashioned dumping buckets of water. The outcome could have been quite different in a “regular” 2020.
I know some people have felt isolated during the lockdown period, and I’m not pretending to understand what that was like, as I had the luxury of being with my kids the entire time. Therefore, I considered that time period as solitude, a chance to reconnect with myself and with things that are meaningful.
Soon, everything will return, in many ways, to the previous stress of the everyday—traffic jams, tight planning of meals and schedules, and the feeling of not having enough hours in the day to get it all done.
Additionally, the past 14-plus months were an excellent time to grow professionally and personally. Everyone was challenged to think outside the box! We had to come up with new ways to interact, meet, learn, conduct conferences, stay disciplined with our health and fitness, be better communicators and listeners, be truly present for people and appreciate them in ways we never have before, cook and try out new recipes, and adapt to constant changes without losing our positive outlook.
Soon, most of us go back to our previous life of being “stuck” in the hamster wheel, and former challenges will turn into old ways of thinking and doing. I hope I’m wrong, but my gut feeling tells me that people will soon forget the things they always wanted and finally had and will now throw it all to the wayside: time and ways to turn challenges into opportunities.
In the midst of restrictions placed on us and the things perceived as “taken” from us, we also gained a different kind of freedom, life, and perspective.
I know 2020 and part of 2021 affected everyone differently, but please do not focus all your energy on the negatives, but rather on the moments of joy (no matter how small) brought into that period. Maybe it was more time, catching up with all the TV shows your friends have been telling you to watch for several years, a new business venture, a new skill set learned, reconnecting with people (virtually) you have not heard from in a long time, or merely a new perspective and appreciation of the mundane and life in general.
This pandemic touched everyone—a true global event that did not care about your lifestyle, income, religious views, fashion sense, routines, favorite sports teams, favorite foods, ability to deal with technology, or your introvert versus extrovert tendencies. A virus is quite ignorant in that perspective, really.
And as you throw out your mask and reenter the world with open arms, please check on your introverted friends who might not be quite ready for embracing the renowned freedom. Mental health is real—before, during, and after the pandemic. Take care of the people around you.
If the global pandemic has taught me anything, it’s the importance of flexibility in my thinking and approach toward any situation.
Now go and enjoy life again, but more equipped, aware, engaged, and fully.