August 27, 2020

Hindsight Is 2020

At 11:59 p.m. on December 31, 2019, the ball started dropping and decided to make a year of it. Like everyone else, I wish I could close the lid to this dumpster fire, but there are some things even a trash fire can illuminate. And those are the things that I never want to lose sight of. So right now, I’m taking stock of what I want to stick.

Making boundaries.

I used to say, “I’m a writer, a mentor, a mom and a wife all at the same time.” Then I actually had to do them all at the same time—plus deal with a global pandemic and homeschooling—and now I say, “More wine.”

At first, getting through the day was all about comfort. For me, that meant business on top, and on the bottom … well, I reintroduced a wide array of maternity leggings into my wardrobe. But then I started mentally compartmentalizing my day. I tried actually dressing for work and eventually found that just the act changing outfits at the end of the workday made my brain switch. My commute used to be my time to take a deep breath and decompress. Now it’s stepping into those blessed stretchy pants.

And when it comes to my time, well, I am lucky enough to have a partner to split the parenting duties with during the day, and an employer who understands that my parenting takes over at night. And I have doors that lock. So I use them. A lot. What I don’t have are soundproof walls. So I have to be OK if life gets through them—and if once in a while I forget to lock the doors and Optimus Prime comes barreling through. Which leads me to the next point …

Accepting that business is personal, and it’s never going back.

We’ve never been so distant from one another—but I’ve also never seen such a human side to my coworkers and my clients. When you’re on your 15th round of feedback, it’s easy to forget that these aren’t just titles you’re talking to. And now, I’m literally being welcomed into people’s homes, even if it is via my computer. I’ve seen kitchen aids, quarantine cuts—I’ve even met families. It’s a whole lot different from a framed picture of perfect families on a desk. They are walking, talking, zooming reminders that we’re all going through this together, and we’ll come out the other side as people who have, well, been through it.

Finding and celebrating successes. No matter how small.

Eat a healthy lunch instead of a bowl of onion dip with chips? Well, good on you. I’m still trying to figure that one out. Trick your child into learning something? Have a surprise video call, and you’re actually at your computer and have good hair? Enjoy it. Pat yourself on the back. It’s so easy to be consumed by the major wrongs all around us that if holding on to even the smallest positives can get you through the day, hold on tight—even if it’s just to the fact that you folded all your laundry during the all-office meeting.

And while you’re at it, celebrate others’ successes too. If I’m reading an especially good headline, or if I hear that someone else’s presentation went well, I try to spread good vibes forward. Everyone is on an island right now; you never know what one seemingly little “hey, nice job” can do for someone else.

Knowing nothing is guaranteed. And maybe sometimes that’s a good thing.

How many times have you tried to tackle something only to be told, “Well, that’s the way we’ve always done it”? Well, we’ve found a way to work remotely, to teach remotely, to happy hour remotely—we’ve proven that we can learn and unlearn anything. We are more agile than we thought.

If we come out of this and go back to what was, what was it all for? Let’s stay flexible, both in where and how we work. And let’s stay creative in how quickly we can respond to what the world is throwing at us, our clients and their customers. And most importantly, let’s be sure that when we’re rebuilding our environments, we start with inclusivity. Let’s not just rebuild. Let’s rethink.

Never getting too comfortable.

There are so many things that I took for granted. That my kids would go to school. That I could access a steady stream of TP. Welp, we all know that can be gone in an instant. (Luckily, as a Costco member, I was always unwittingly prepared for an apocalypse.) If anything, this pandemic has taught me how to be flexible and bend to whatever guidance is out there at any given time—and when there is a lack of guidance, to trust my gut.

Absolutely nothing is a given, so we better get good at staying bendy.

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