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July 9, 2021

Ready or Not: How to Emerge from our Walls Built by COVID-19.

Life keeps moving whether I am ready or not.

I am a military spouse, and I am 24 days away from an intercontinental move. I cannot fight the change that is coming. I cannot delay, deny, or ignore it. My impending move is a paradox of loss for all that I have come to know and love over the last five years coupled with the joy of a new adventure and the possibilities that await.

As I prepare for this move, I am struck by the similarities between preparing to move and emerging from this past year with COVID-19.

The last year was one of loss for many and change for everyone. From adjusting to a new job or no job, to slowly or quickly embracing online shopping, to having video meetings, calls, and reunions with loved ones, to wearing masks, and purely trying to keep up with everything; it was one change after another.

Similarly, there are countless components and changes when moving: there’s planning for the movers, prepping all the household goods, identifying what to keep, what not to keep, and what to put in storage. There are travel arrangements, mapping routes for the drive or arranging flights, and booking hotels along the way.

And, amidst all the planning, finding time to say goodbye to friends and family in your current city, or, in my case, the current country since I am moving overseas.

There are plenty of opportunities for any piece to go wrong and it’s easy to become overwhelmed. I could focus on the what-ifs, unknowns, and shifting changes if I wanted to increase my anxiety and worry; instead, I roll with the change—one day and one minute at a time.

Going with flow while moving allows me to let go of worry, fear, and anxiety. I expect the unexpected because something will go wrong or be unplanned. My formula for successfully expecting the unexpected and not reacting is to listen, watch closely, and let the information process while I attempt to keep my emotions in check. It’s almost as if I’m not a participant, but I’m present in the moment, allowing the unexpected to come and go with the ease of an inhale and an exhale.

As Tony Schwartz says,

“Let go of certainty. The opposite is not uncertainty. It’s openness, curiosity, and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose up sides. The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop trying to learn and grow.”

Similarly, taking every day in stride allows for a successful re-engagement in a post-Covid reality.

As I have prepared for this move, I came face to face with post-Covid reality on my trip to see family and take a vacation. I have flown three times, which allowed me to then ride on a crowded shuttle at Zion National Park and hike the Narrows. I sat shoulder to shoulder with unmasked strangers watching “Absinthe” in Las Vegas and laughed so hard I cried. I shared dinner indoors, unmasked with 12 strangers on a food tour at top Vegas restaurants. The positives of coming face-to-face with the start of the post-Covid new normal, outweighed any worries.

Change is never easy. Sometimes I wish I could stay in my comfort zone with my bubble of close friends, favorite restaurants, and regular dog walk routes. But I know I would then miss out on the adventure and excitement of living somewhere different and exploring a new city and culture. Instead of thinking about what is being left behind, I focus on what I will be gaining. Likewise, I have a sense of amazement about the possibilities becoming available as part of the Covid-19 reopenings.

Visualizing and focusing on the positive further helps release any anxiety and worry.

Now, imagine yourself meeting up with friends in person and beginning to re-engage with the local community: you’re sitting at your favorite coffee shop with the chatter of people at other tables conversing, holding an iced latte, the cup sweating in your hands. As you glance up, your friend is walking to join you. A smile emerges and your pulse rises at the joy of seeing a friend you haven’t seen in person in over a year—joy.

Might there be some awkward moments or feelings of discomfort? Absolutely, but by observing the moment of connection and joy, worries will begin to flow by. The reality of connecting with people will day by day start to recreate a new normal. Openness and curiosity can become an adventure.

Like all adventures, moving is exhausting. Even with focusing on the positives and taking everything in stride, I know stress will arise and emotions will swirl. I let each day and each moment be a new opportunity to reset and try again. Sometimes a step back can be the best way forward.

While emerging into a post-Covid world, take time to recharge. I give grace to myself and everyone that is supporting me while in the chaos of moving. I recharge and reset in isolation through meditation, yoga, or reading. Having a balance of old routines and new possibilities helps keep me sane.

Finding balance in a post-Covid world of new and old will only help with adjusting to the change. If worry or anxiety do creep in, a reset provides perspective and allows us to refocus on the positive.

Just like my move, the reality of transitioning to a post-Covid world is here, ready or not. It is best not to fight the change. It cannot be denied, delayed, or ignored.

Rather, take everything in stride. Focus on the positives and possibilities. Recharge and reset. Eventually, we will all find comfort in our new normal.

 

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