At first, we kept using words like surreal and unprecedented, watching the news and wondering when someone would say it was all just a joke. Now, it seems reality has set in. I was fortunate enough to be a bit ahead of the game and started isolating some time ago. Being immunosuppressed, I am used to taking quick actions to keep myself safe. When things starting to ramp up with this virus, both me and my partner has some big decisions to make, one was getting me out of Sydney and somewhere where I could be safe. It was not an easy decision and many tears were had. But I have now settled into my “for the time being” life and doing what I do best, analysing and watching how the world and those around me are responding to this crisis.
I was maybe going to wait a little while before I published the below content, but in the last 24 hours, I have had many conversations with people who felt lost and in despair. It seems a mood has shifted, and we are now wondering how long we will have to live life like this.
I’m going to go back a few months now and I have a confession to make. I have been really negative in my thought processes for quite some time. I have been seeing life for what it isn’t instead of what it is. I have only been able to focus on the negatives, worrying about what the future will hold instead of looking at the good around me. It’s not a fun head space to live in. No matter what people tell you or what you tell yourself, it feels like you are stuck in this slippy slide going down with no way up. I tried meditation, I tried yoga, I even tried wine for dinner. But it’s only now, during this crisis that my mind has started to work very differently and I feel it’s the chaos we now live in that is responsible for that.
Whilst this is a very scary time and I won’t diminish the real threat this all poses on our lives and our day to day living, there are so many silver linings in this for us to see. And as hard as that might sound for some, what choice do we have right now? We still have a long way to go with this worldwide battle and our minds are one of the best weapons we have so we need to do what we can to put them in a good place.
For all those people I have spoken to lately who are feeling the reality and the negative mindset click in, this post is for you.
So, what really are the lessons and the silver linings in all of this chaos, despair and desperation.
- We will never take those small things for granted anymore
Maybe it’s thanks to social media and our drive to share everything online and have it validated by others, but it seems our celebrations and social gatherings always have to be a bit OTT and looked a certain way. It’s the visual era because everything is shared online. People are not truly present at those times and those events, rather trying to work out how to make it look that much better whilst capturing it for all to see. We have now had so many things taken away from us. You can’t meet a friend for a coffee, celebrate a birthday or a milestone. Even your gym sessions are out of the question. I don’t know about you, but I would just love to go over to my friend’s place and have a wine on the couch. There will be many that go back to the social flaunting way of life, but there will be many that for some time will just appreciate those small things. That coffee catch up or lunch with friends without the phone capturing every move. And maybe that’s the way it should have been.
- Material things might mean a lot less and our health might finally get the focus it deserves
Most of us are taking a hit financially. Job losses are at a rate we have never seen before. This is the time we really start to reassesses what we have previously spent our money on instead of maybe saving for that raining day (or that day when a worldwide pandemic hits). Right now, I need nothing but my health. (And possibly a good collection of wine). It doesn’t matter how much money someone has, it can’t save them from this virus. Yes, we need to put food on the table and pay bills, but this really motivates us to think about the things we used to place value on. Who cares what car you drive or what clothes you wear really, because during a worldwide crisis, neither of those are going to do anything to keep you safe.
- Natural beauty is not so scary
I don’t know the last time I didn’t have nail polish on my nails. By the time I’m out of isolation, you might just really see what my natural hair colour is. I’m giving myself facials at home with products I can find online and doing what I can to keep up some sort of beauty routine. Many of my friends are embracing the greys that will soon be showing. But because we are all in this together, the fear is not the same. So, we all go grey together? So, we all have badly painted nails? So, we all don’t look refreshed and perfect as we maybe did before this all occurred. So what? Right now, the focus is on getting through this one day at a time and maybe it’s the right time to let real beauty shine and not be scared of what our more natural selves will bring.
- Amongst negative behaviours, generosity, kindness and love shine through
There has been frustration over those not doing the right thing, those kicking up a stink for the policies put in place and those that think this is all one big conspiracy for control. Whilst we are also seeing cases of humans behaving badly first, now we are also seeing the kindness that is all around. I have had so many friends and people I hardly know reach out to see if need help getting food and other essentials. They too are doing it tough but still have the kindness to reach out. Friends are continually checking in and catching up online when before it seemed as though we are all too busy. Strangers are giving people money just to help them out. We might be seeing the worst in some people, but we are also seeing such kindness and beauty in so many. Lest focus on that!
- Relationships will be stronger or be put to the ultimate test
There are a lot of people struggling at home with their spouse. It’s not normal or natural to be together ALL the time, maybe both working at home and home schooling children at the same time. It’s ok to be a bit frustrated. Relationships are not always about the good times, how things look or what gifts someone can give. It’s about overcoming the difficult times, the rough times and those times when you feel the world is caving in. This is the real strength of a relationship and if you can get through the obstacles that life is throwing at us right now, then what else can’t you get through? And for those who can’t, don’t’ feel bad or even guilty. Maybe this is what you needed to work out if your relationship was strong enough or the test you needed to make a decision that was in the back of your mind.
- The fast-paced dating world finally gets a chance to slow down with real connections being able to be explored
Did dating ever feel like it was going too fast? Like there was so little time and so many options? Well not anymore. Often the problem was people were dating so fast there was not enough time to explore if a real connection was present. Now we get that time. Physical connections might be fun, but when you can’t be physical and Facetime dates are maybe all that’s on offer, physical looks or even someone good in bed might not cut the grade. This gives those dating in isolation a chance to get to know someone on a level they might not have had the chance to before.
- We might finally stop trying to be happy all the time and sit and work through our discomfort
We are a society that wants to constantly rid ourselves of any unpleasant feelings. We want to drink, meditate, exercise, say a mantra or get under someone. It’s as though we have become allergic to this idea of not being happy all the time. You can’t be happy all the time because if you were, happiness wouldn’t’ have the same meaning. And in those moments of discomfort, that is where that is opportunity for growth. Those are the moments when it’s time to work out why things don’t feel good, to explore deeper thoughts, feeling and behaviour patterns instead of just using a quick fix as a distraction without addressing the issues that have been at play. Things at the moment are not comfortable for many people and life is tough. Maybe the only way is to get through that discomfort is to feel it and be ok with not being ok, instead of trying to mask it with a quick fix. It’s ok to cry, it’s ok to be upset, and it’s ok to let those around you know this is how you are feeling.
- We get to stop and breathe and appreciate where we are right now on this earth.
We can’t plan for the future, because all we have is now. I had so many plans this year. Plans to travel, lots of friend’s wedding, plans for my own professional and personal life. All of that for now has been put on pause and I don’t know what each day will bring. I don’t know when I get to go home, when I get to see my partner or my friends. All I have is now and all I can do is to live in each moment. Isn’t this something so many of us have been attempting but now are pushed into is as a state of being? I can’t be anxious or fearful about a future that I have no idea what will bring. But maybe that’s how we really should be living life as no one thought a few months ago that this would have been our future. I have had so many moments in the last two weeks where I have just appreciated what I was doing in the here and the now. Where I have stopped and just breathed and appreciated a sunset or something beautiful, enjoyable or funny. Even just being able to be outside as who knows when that will be a luxury. I don’t know what’s going to happen, so all I can do is focus on where I am right now. And I hope this is a mindset so many of us continue to take on after, because if this can happen and change our lives in an instance, anything is possible.
- This will force us to look at what is really important in life
I don’t’ know about you, but the last few arguments I have had with my partner just don’t seem relevant anymore. The things I was stressed about just don’t even factor into my mind. The things I would get worked up about I’m not. When you are faced with so much uncertainty, with fear and possible loss of life, it’s a sure way to reset what is important to you in life and that is a lesson so many of us are receiving right now.
- We all might just realised how strong we can really be
I am from a holocaust surviving family. The stories I grew up with about how they all survived made me wonder about the strength they had and how on earth they got through the obstacles life through at them. Things are not like they were in world war 2, although it seems like there are some resemblances. But one thing is similar. We are faced with an obstacle and there is only one way through to other side and one tool needed, strength. That might be strength to get up each day, strength to stay inside, strength to support family and friends or strength to continue working through a scary time. But we are all just proving to ourselves how strong we can be and hopefully this might make many realise afterwards of the inner strength they have and what their full potential might be.
Whilst we can’t escape what is going on right now and the fear is very much real, we do have some control over our minds and that might be the best way through this. We are all scared and there is so much uncertainty, but take a moment each day to see what the silver linings really are. The world is not ever going to be the same again, you are not going to be the same again, but it doesn’t mean your world is going to be worse off. Maybe just a little more emotionally in touch with what is important in life.