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August 25, 2020

A little Perspective Refresher, since we’re (sigh, still) in the middle of Chaos.

Editor’s note: Elephant Journal articles represent the personal views of the author, and can not possibly reflect Elephant Journal as a whole. Disagree with an Op-Ed or opinion? Share your experience too.

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Nowadays, the world is faced with a pandemic-sized case of chaos.

People are losing their jobs and healthcare coverage, savings go into bill payments, the administration of schools and colleges are uncertain if they should teach in person or purely online, racism is more apparent than ever, and everyone is confused and fearful of the unknown future.

Fear turns into frustration and social media turns people into “keyboard cowboys” with outbursts of anger and calling people out; in many ways, it’s the unveiling of true beliefs which we’d never dare to speak directly into the face of the person.

I get it. We can all relate to other people’s frustrations, losses, and sadness. And while we have little control of certain federal and statewide rules and guidelines, we can certainly adjust our attitude toward them.

Why? Well, we all believe in certain rights and wrongs, but that doesn’t necessarily mean our perceived side is the correct one.

When we step outside of our own heads and truly listen to others, including taking in a full 360-degree view of the subject matter at hand, we come to realize (if we are truly honest with ourselves) that nobody can make everyone completely satisfied and happy with a solution. We can only assume that the decisions made are in the best interest of the majority of the population, even if not those in our families and community.

In times like this, we often solely focus on the things we fear to lose. Of course, this is a human reaction, and also egoistic. Instead of concentrating on the things we need to give up, what about zeroing in on the things we actually gain?

For instance, how many times have you wished for more time with your immediate family, got annoyed by people in traffic, were frustrated because the subway or bus was late (again), got stuck in construction traffic, were saddened by the time wasted commuting to work, and missed your favorite group workout at the gym due to being stuck late at work? Or maybe you missed seeing your child take the first step, and instead, it was described to you by the daycare worker, or didn’t have time to try out the family pasta recipe, or wished you could enjoy the outdoors more often.

Now, instead of commuting, you can enjoy extra time in the morning and evening by yourself, with your partner, or with your kids, use the time to build your own business or work on your passions and dreams, or learn new skills online to spruce up your resume.

We always complained about needing extra time to do “XYZ,” right? Now we have it.

Personally, I am tremendously grateful to work for a company that allows me to do my job from home, which has worked out quite well besides the occasional slow internet connection (such a first world problem). My children had to finish the 2019-20 school year at home with a somewhat messed-up virtual class schedule that was not always congruent with the communications sent out to parents and students. However, we all made it out alive to tell the stories.

The summer was not at all what we normally would experience. Instead of a graduation party with friends and family, beach visits, tourist attractions, and big city adventures, we spent our weekends hiking trails in our state we did not even know existed. We had more in-depth conversations, got to truly assess our points of views and perspectives, and therefore, got to know each other on entirely different levels. Let’s be real, people can hide in their rooms for only so long before they get bored and want to talk to another human being or have to address the “elephant in the room.”

While I was able to work remotely (I know this is a privilege and I genuinely appreciate the frontline workers of all professions, as my son is one of them), I got to spend the entire summer with my kids! This has never happened before and even though it might have been disruptive or slightly annoying at times, I cannot even describe to you how grateful I am for this precious time. Parents know: kids grow up too fast. It’s a proven fact; once they start school, the years just keep flying by.

So, instead of complaining and focusing on the indecisiveness of colleges and public schools, how about we find appreciation for having our kids around?

This coming school year is basically a cluster of uncertainties, but the good news is that we are all in the same boat.

This means we need to stop acting like our kids were singled out to be made an example of. Both of my kids will attend school virtually—one college freshman and one high school student. Will it be challenging? You better count on it. Will the current decisions made by schools change? Of course! It will require a new routine and workflow around the house, but it will also teach us compromise, flexibility in our approaches, assessments, re-assessments, and dealing with any direct conflicts right on the spot.

We will exercise real-life skill-building activities. And we can only grow wiser from them, gifting us the ability to take on the outside world in the future. If we can handle our own family with all its quirks and weirdness, we can handle anything in the years ahead.

We can look at the glass half-full, half-empty, or we can keep reminding ourselves that the glass is refillable. It is all up to each of us and the mindset we want to bring to the table. But remember one thing:

“Complaining about a problem without proposing a solution is whining.” (Note: this quote is often misattributed to and/or paraphrased from a Teddy Roosevelt speech.)

We will all get through this, because chaos often provides an opportunity of growth, change, and improvement. So, you can either drag your feet or jump in and participate to create a better future for humankind.

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