The past few months have felt like the movies Outbreak or Contagion. I thought I was a strict hand-washer before? Nothing compares to the scrubbing and moisturizing brought on by COVID19. This pandemic shook anyone with a sense of empathy—the loss of life has been tragic and mandates for human interaction change daily. It’s strange to not see anyone but your immediate household. It’s strange to do your weekly shopping and on the off chance you’re able to find toilet paper, paper towels, antibacterial wipes, or sanitizer, you feel you discovered one of the Seven Cities of Gold. Isolation has been a huge help in getting projects finished but there’s also a loss of control and increase in uncertainty. We as humans have trouble dealing with uncertainty in even minor situations. What if this person stops loving me? Should I stay at this job? What’s happening next year? What if? Now, the uncertainty is, will I or a loved one get sick? Can my mother fight off the virus? Did I sanitize the sides of my wallet or purse enough to be safe? How will I deal with life once things re-open? What will the new normal look like? There’s no way to know what’s on the horizon with COVID19. We don’t know enough yet about its composition or where the next hot spot will be. What we can control is the way we utilize this time. We have an opportunity to better ourselves and make life nicer for our families, friends, co-workers, and employees by focusing on our own behavior. It’s the perfect time for reflection on how we as individuals, families, businesses, and communities reacted during COVID19. Self-analysis is a worthwhile mental exercise and a creative way to determine the attitudes and values we’d like to be known for in the future.
COVID19 hasn’t been easy on anyone—educators, small businesses, county officials, and hospital staff, to name a few. But ask yourself, what role did you play? No judgment- this is a personal exercise. No one knows the answers to these questions but you. Did you help the shutdown to commence or resist and add to complications? Were you shoving others out of the way for a coffee creamer (saw this happen on two separate occasions,) or did you offer a package of napkins to someone too late to grab them? Did you or a family member offer to leave some items on a doorstep for an elderly friend? Did you check in with family/friends over text to see if they needed anything? Did you think outside your own situation to consider someone else? Creativity isn’t always about making something or creating a business strategy. Sometimes it pertains to building a better you.
The virus illustrated that some people remain calm and cool in a crisis. Others panic and overreact. Some shop as needed while others hoard items. Were you someone who respected the ‘no large group gathering’ state ordinance or who made your way to parades continuing against city law? There’s a difference between responding and reacting—one is productive and calm while the other leans toward impulsivity and fear. Which do you lean toward and why? What example did you set for those around you?
Who we are when things aren’t going well shows our true characters. Magazine articles remind us to examine how potential romantic partners behave when frustrated. But what about ourselves? Only we each know how we’ve been handling COVID19. It’s worth the time to take private stock of our approach. Were you a help to your friends and community? Did you provide helpful suggestions? Did you wear your mask when running errands or dismiss others for doing so? Most importantly—think about the whys. The why’s, as I always told my writing students, are the integral aspect of any equation. What thought process made us react a certain way? What past experience reared its head into our current lives? Can any be examined, worked on, and improved? It’s a personal reflection that may help us each grow into a better version of ourselves and right now, we certainly have the time. Life isn’t finished throwing curveballs. COVID19 is predicted to hang around through next year. We always have another chance to think and do better, and improve who we are for those we care about and for those who helped us on the front lines.