How will you use the pain and challenges of the pandemic?
What was 2020, and the first part of 2021, like for you? How would you describe it?
What emotions and feelings do you attach to this period of time?
Maybe you lost your job, a business, a loved one, or your own health.
Or maybe it was fairly ‘meh.’
From all the people I have spoken to, everyone has been affected in one way or another.
It can range from the most extreme of experiencing bereavement, huge stress from the workplace, to the sadness of lacking that social connection and seeing family and friends.
I really liked the phrase that was coined – we are all in the same storm, but we are not all in the same boat.
We all experience things in very different ways, how we deal with them, react to them, respond to them, and take action or no action in the face of such uncertainty and challenges.
My personal experience was not too bad. Sometimes that feels almost wrong or selfish to say this. But that was my experience.
As I write this, mid-April 2021, the pubs and restaurants are open for business in an outdoor setting. France remains in a short lockdown, and we hear stories of not being out of the woods yet.
If you were to tell me that by the summer a new covid variant would have us back into lockdown, and we had to ride out being stuck at home until Christmas, I’d accept that and be prepared.
I’m no different to anyone else. I have no special ability in being solitary like a hermit.
The reason is that I have learned from and become more resilient from quite painful experiences during my life.
As I have shared more of my story, you might know that I have lived and worked in other countries.
Imagine moving to a city for work, in another country, where you don’t know anyone. And it might even involve speaking a different language.
Sure, you get to know your new colleagues as the weeks and months go by. But that doesn’t always mean it is a crowd you hang out with at the weekend. At least not in the beginning.
I’ve lived with isolation, loneliness, and real sadness as companions. At the very worst I was depressed and in a really low place.
Weekends at these times were never something to look forward to in the early days of a new city, workplace and experience.
They meant social isolation, no plans, and a longing for Monday to come around quickly.
The most social contact might be getting to know the guy that ran the local pizza place or the delivery driver from a local eatery.
In all of this, I learned to accept myself for who I am and to enjoy my own company.
People often joke about the “losers” that go to the cinema on their own. I always reply that it is actually the confident ones that go to see a movie on their own. I quite enjoy this.
Head out to a bar on your own or sit by yourself with a coffee in a coffee shop. Watching mindfully as the world goes by. Comfortable in your own presence. That takes confidence.
Admittedly these experiences were not in a total lockdown. However, the social isolation was real and comparable to lockdown.
Give me food delivery, running/hot water, electricity, a roof over my head, and wifi...and I will crank out the weeks.
Back to the pandemic and present day...
You have lived through a major life event. Congratulations! Stop and think about that for a moment.
Pat yourself on the back for getting through this.
Now, what have you learned from the pandemic? How will you use this realisation and the calluses from this experience?
Life is always going to throw surprises and challenges our way. The aim is to be better prepared for how we respond to them going forwards.
You are now more resilient and wise.
It may not feel it now, but I believe you will get to see this eventually.
Turn this struggle, pain and suffering to your advantage the next time a challenge presents itself in your life.
Remember back to what you have come through. All that you have gained.
Feel that strength and say “I lived through 2020. Nothing can stop me! Bring it on!”