There’s no such thing as life going “back to normal” after the pandemic, because that would mean we’re going backward, not forward toward our evolution. It would mean we weren’t honoring the growth many of us have had to reach for to survive, during an admittedly difficult time in our world.
It’s always helpful to be conscious of how dark moments in our lives often bring us wisdom and expansion on the other side.
For many, it was a time of self-improvement, reprioritizing values, stretching ourselves in ways we didn’t know we could, balancing and reconfiguring relationships, and curating hobbies and personal interests, all while navigating through palpable fear, the real possibility of illness, and unprecedented isolation.
Grow through what you go through
Many people came through my practice during this period trying to gain clarity in their relationships because they were already struggling within them before the pandemic. The intensity of time spent together was really bringing things to the surface. Relational issues they had put to the side because life had been busy, or they had previously turned a blind eye to, now became central themes in their intimate paradigm. They were forced to get clear about their triggers within the partnership, taking responsibility for their own emotions, and allowing the other to walk their own path during the shutdown. There was nowhere to run to. In taking all of these positive actions, they either grew closer together, or it became abundantly clear it was time to move on, apart. It was an opportunity to sit in the middle of the relationship and decide if it was helping them grow or stagnate.
Many clients and friends moved away from city living as soon as the shelter-in-place was lifted. They experienced fear of the unknown and trepidation around leaving the stimulus of city life, but they walked through it, and most are happier for the lifestyle shift, having found peace in nature. Others left a city to try life in another one, feeling more freedom being able to work remotely. “Someday I’ll move” became “It has to happen now.” And that’s always a good thing when we realize dreams have been sitting on the back burner too long.
Some people left jobs they disliked, pared down, and started a hobby with the hopes of turning it into their purpose. They took a chance on themselves, because they realized “If not now, when?”
Many, such as myself, had to juggle small children, homeschooling, and working from home. It was tough going in pockets, but I was able to let the little things go, becoming more flexible with mess, and dropping ideas of perfection that had dogged me most of my life, so I could thrive and not just survive. I had to dip into reservoirs of patience I hadn’t had, and I ended up expanding personally and professionally within a contraction. I knew there were lessons to be had here, and I didn’t want them to pass over me by not taking the learnings as they rolled through.
And you know what? It’s also absolutely OK if you just hung in there and tread water having kept everything the same in your life. This pandemic was challenging and pushed many way past our comfort zones. But surely you can look back and see areas of your life that recalibrated, or maybe now things have started to come into sharp focus around how you want to be living your life moving forward. Maybe you’re pooshing yourself to create something meaningful as a result of that stagnancy, because you now know to your core that life is precious and unpredictable.
We’re all still grappling with how it has changed us.
Travel has definitely become a primary focus for many, with people craving adventure, wanting to see, feel, and know other cultures firsthand again. I took a trip to Tulum as soon as I could, and it was by far the greatest one of my life. I had such an appreciation for the privilege of immersing myself in an altogether new environment after staying home for so long. I relished everything about the journey in a way that I hadn’t done before. I do think it’s going to show up in interesting ways like that for many of us that are still unknowable from this standpoint. Time will reveal that for each of us.
It’s easy to admit that we are somehow changed by what we’ve come through this last year, and when something of this magnitude happens, we can never go back to what we were. Hopefully, we can each embrace these changes and integrate them, while also cultivating a deeper understanding of what we’re capable of as humans, and how much we all are, as citizens of the world, interconnected in our shared experience.