Originally posted 8/4/20120
You know, when COVID-19 first started, I would frequently joke with my clients by asking them how the end of the word was treating them. I guess for me, sometimes it's easier to make things light hearted in scenarios where things seem doom and gloom. I have to admit, I didn’t see the longevity of the major life changes. I thought, “okay, maybe three months max until the world starts to get back to normal.” I’m in my fourth month of isolation and working remotely. My partner has been in isolation even longer than I have. There’s no hope of returning to normal anytime soon as cases continue to rise at a rapid pace.
I slowly lost my ability to joke about it. It started feeling like a “too soon” kind of joke. So many lives changed for the foreseeable future. It's easy to have hope dwindle when after four months, it's still not safe to leave the house really. I don’t really know when we will feel safe to leave the house or live a life where we can see the entirety of someone’s face. So what do you do when the world ends? What do you value and strive for when you’ve lost so many of the things you used to care about?
I’ll admit, when it first started, I gave the cookie cutter responses. Minimize news exposure. Focus on what’s in your control. Find ways to stay engaged in old hobbies. Learn new hobbies. Take time for yourself. But as time goes on, those start to feel like empty words. The more cases rise, the more it feels like I’m just minimizing. I guess the truth of the matter is, we just have to grit and bear it. Not the most empathetic, I know. But maybe more empathetic than grin and bear it. In the grand scheme of things, no one opts in for an apocalypse. Think of every apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic book, tv show, or movie you’ve ever experienced. None of those characters were like “hell yeah, sign me up.”
A commonality in dystopian stories is acceptance their world was forever changed. I don’t know about you, but I would personally like a more glorified apocalypse. One where we feel like we can fight our way out of it somehow. Maybe chop off a zombie head or two. Where our survival rate had a possibility of being in our control. Or even just one where our plague makes us bleed from our eyes like in that show Containment so we could at least tell who had it. In desperation, even a judgement days type feeling kind of thing. That’s just not how the cookie crumbled. So, your world has changed. My world has changed. Everyone’s world is changed. What does that change mean for you? You know what humans are really amazing at though? Adapting.
Think about it. We are one of the only species to make and use tools. That’s some extremely adaptable shit right there. We’ve figured out ways to survive in climates that our bodies weren’t designed for. We’ve continuously pushed the envelope in terms of science. All of that is due to adaptability. So the way I see it is we can either stay stuck or fucking adapt. The catch? We have to refuse to be stuck in the past in order to adapt. We can’t allow our desires for “the way things were” to crush our ability to make a better “way things are.” We have to get used to our new normal, and adjust as a community.
Trust me, I’m equally guilty of finding myself stuck in the wishes to return to our pre-ordained normal. We’ve already come leaps and bounds in terms of altering our lives to fit a pandemic world. But I think some of us are still feeling stuck. Feeling like this is unfair. Feeling hopeless, defeated, helpless. So how the fuck are we going to adapt more? Start with acceptance of the world as it is. Easier said than done, I know. Hang in there with me. Once you do that, it's a matter of making the best out of what you have to work with. You can rediscover yourself or remake yourself. Learn something new, whether it be discovering a depth of your soul you haven’t previously explored, or have you ever wished you had time to learn how to play the guitar, but always felt like your life was too busy to fit it in? How many projects have you caught up on that you just didn’t have time to get to before? Like, I’ve gotten into doing shit like house repairs when I’m like one of the least hands-on people I know. It’s weird to admit, but I have impressed myself with my abilities. Come to find out, I really just wanted to figure out how to solve problems in my everyday world. This requires trying something you weren’t previously willing (for any reason, or excuse) to try before.
Find ways to continue to pursue your interests. Find shit to do when you get bored. Accept that boredom, feelings of depression, and anxiety might happen. Just don’t dwell in them if you can help it. Figure out ways to make this your best life despite the limitations. Start dream-building more. Now is possibly one of the only times in your life where you will feel like you have the time to build your dreams guilt free. Create steps for yourself. I suggest SMART Goals. Start making waves in your life. Adapt to the life circumstances in front of you.
But, at the end of the day, know that it is okay to grieve. We are all grieving our previous lives, and friends lost in the COVID shuffle. So, give yourself time to sit in grief. It’s good for you to feel the things, you’re allowed to feel this way. If you need it; you have permission to grieve in your own way. Everyone has a different process. Some people ugly cry (my partner), some people wallow (me), some people hike, you get the point. Just don’t stay stuck in the grief for too long.
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