Observations from Inside a Pandemic

We’re over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic.  Some days it feels like it all happened yesterday.  Other days it feels like we’ve been in this situation forever.  It’s scary how this is beginning to feel normal.

One thing of which I am certain…I’ve had much more time to reflect on and observe my reactions as well as those of others.  A few things I’ve noticed:

  1. We like options.  Before this shutdown, I enjoyed having my home office as well as my downtown office to go to several days a week.  Now I’m at home…all the time. I don’t want to work in an office all the time.  Nor do I want to work at home all the time.  What I want is the option to work from wherever I want, whenever I want.  The option is what’s satisfying.
  2. Even introverts are social creatures.  I’ve spoken to many people in recent weeks, some introverts and some extroverts.  While I’d say the introverts are finding it easier to cope when their social circles are limited,  even us introverts are craving some social interaction.  I want to go to our favorite Mexican restaurant, sit at the bar and watch an Astros game, and exchange simple pleasantries with the bartenders that we know there.  It is the variety of people, the daily interactions with other people (known and unknown) that creates a depth and interest to life.  I miss that.
  3. There is such a thing as too much information.  In the early days, I sought out every piece of information about the coronavirus.  I tracked infection rates local and global.  I watched the market.  I read economic predictions.  I strive to only read news from reliable sources, so I don’t look at social media and I’m very cautious as to what internet news I read.  But even with those filters, I was becoming worried, and craving more information all the time.  I was hypersensitive to protecting my 86 year old mother who lives with us.  Then I realized that when I checked out for a couple of days at a time I actually felt more at peace.  I could be informed, but not obsessed with information.
  4. Nature is the great stabilizer and equalizer.  This virus – a part of the natural state of things – knows no difference between countries, economics or power.  If you’re human, being around other humans is currently a risk.  But I’ve also found that being in nature has brought stability to many of us.  More people are outside running or riding bikes with the family (six feet apart, of course).  It’s likely partly because they want more freedom of movement but I suspect it’s mostly because being in nature feels good.  It is relaxing to walk among the trees and listen to the wind.  As I write this, I’m sitting on a porch in the country.  My view is a pasture and I hear the breeze blowing and the birds singing.  I feel peaceful and stable.
  5. Many things can be done virtually… But not everything and not all the time.  I suspect that previously skeptical employers will have a new perspective on working remotely, especially when they consider the savings from real estate.  Hopefully the lessons we are learning now will provide more professional options once this shutdown ends.  But even though I’ve had more video calls with colleagues, virtual happy hours with family and daily texting accountability partners for my exercise routine, there are just some things that need personal contact.

I miss hugging my family.  I miss taking my grandkids on adventures in the woods.  I miss the simple pat on the shoulder or kind touch of encouragement when speaking with friends.  We are tactile beings, not digital beings. When all this is over, I’m going to go give my grandkids big hugs, go to that Mexican restaurant and shake hands with the bartenders, and call my hairdresser and manicurist.  I miss them and the simple every day touches and interactions.

In the meantime, our ability to persevere and the hope and creativity of the human spirit will carry us through.  Be safe and stay well and I’ll see you in person on the other side of this!

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Susan Hodge created Women Leading Together in order to provide one-on-one executive coaching, seminars, workshops, and coaching circles to help career women move forward to create fulfilling professional lives. Visit our website for upcoming programs, articles, and resources to advance your career.

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