This month Laura Tremaine challenged her followers to mark one year of the pandemic with some self-reflection. “I hope” Laura wrote, “these prompts help you think but the last year as a whole, what has changed, and how we made it through.” So here goes . . .
- What do you believe now that you didn’t one year ago?
I believe that nothing is for certain. I now know that the institutions and activities and organizations that were the bones of my life – that gave it structure – cannot be depended upon. They are not as immovable and untouchable as I once thought. I know my ancestors who lived through world-altering historical events like the world wars knew this to be true, and probably tried to share their knowledge. But it’s the kind of wisdom that can only be gleaned from experience.
- What will you carry forward?
I will carry forward a significantly different outlook on life than I had at the beginning of 2020. Honestly, there are many parts of pre-pandemic life that I’m fine with leaving in the past. I want to carry forward the joy and contentment I’ve found close to home. I want to carry forward the slower pace and the normalization of rest as being healthy instead of feeling like I should be rushing around. But more than anything, I want to carry forward all of the growth that’s occurred, especially my realization that happiness and self-acceptance and all of the truly good stuff comes from the inside, and is possible when I stop comparing myself to other people.
- What was a beautiful memory?
Making a conscious effort to spend more time outside has coincided with the pandemic (or perhaps it was the restrictions that gave us a strong push to get outside more and explore close to home), so all the walks, trips to the park, and hours spent in the greenhouse and garden are beautiful Covid memories.
- What was the biggest challenge?
Mental health was the biggest challenge for me during the first year of Covid-19. We are biologically wired for connection. We are biologically wired for strong relationships to keep us healthy. Taking away connections with other people for such long periods of time is, quite frankly, just as dangerous as the virus.
I’ve been disappointed by the government’s focus on physical health, while pretty much ignoring the population’s mental health. There needs to be a better balance.
Another big challenge has been explaining the pandemic to Henry. We’ve kept discussions to a minimum, but he does know about the “bad germs.” Thankfully he’s young and adaptable and doesn’t necessarily realize all of the things we aren’t doing. But it still breaks my heart when he wants to go swimming and we can’t, or that he couldn’t take part in “learn to skate” this year, or that he couldn’t have a birthday party with his little friends.
- What was the biggest change?
The biggest change was working from home: instead of driving 30 minutes each way, instead of grabbing a coffee, instead of finding parking, instead of drawing energy from my students, instead of debriefing and learning from my co-workers, instead of sitting down face-to-face and connecting with other people, I was forced to get intimately acquainted with zoom. While I’m thankful for technology, it’s just not the same, and that’s okay.