Submitted by Allison Allen
So here we are, one year into a worldwide experience of disruption, dismay, fear, grief, and for too many, deep, deep loss. Also a year of challenges encountered and challenges met! Not one of us has gone through this untouched or unaffected, and most of us have been impacted in many ways, both personally and professionally.
I think anniversaries are powerful and are a great time to take stock. I know we are still “in it” but nevertheless, we are at a point where each of us can, by looking back, begin to consider what we’ve gone through, what we maybe have learned, and at least begin to gain some perspective on this experience.
One thing I hope each of us may have gained is a greater sense of our own resourcefulness and resilience. So, maybe take a moment right now to think about some of the ways you drew on your strength, intelligence and values to get through these very hard times. Consider, too, what you have learned that you will bring forward in your life even after this thing is really, truly in our rearview mirror.
I’m guessing another area where many of us have grown is in our awareness of our intense need for connection to others. Consider, then, the ways you found to foster those connections when suddenly so many of our normal, once taken for granted ways were not safely available to you. In the midst of what we could not do, did you find work arounds? Did you, like me, even reconnect with friends you had not talked to for years (a rare pandemic “win!”). Did you learn a whole new appreciation for teachers and schools??? Or, maybe unexpectedly, did you learn to love homeschooling your kids?
Consider, too, your “failures.” Those poor decisions, those risky coping strategies (weight gain, anyone?) What did you learn about the challenges of being human by encountering, and coming to terms with these? Were you able to summon deeper self-compassion and also compassion for others? Are you, possibly, wiser a year in than you were in March 2020? I’ll bet so, and really, this is something to savor and celebrate! Imagine all you will know and be able to draw on during some future crisis when you, or someone you love is having to again make unwanted adjustments and deal with unforeseen losses of some kind. Because, not to be a downer, we all know those times roll around with some regularity.
And notice, too, that none of us got through this without a LOT of help from others. This could have been at work, where so many folks got so busy figuring out how to keep the show going when it got really, really rough. It’s true at home, too, when we often needed someone else to help when our normal routines fell apart, and when we were the one helping others out. We really got to see what community can look like, I think.
So here we are! A year older, some of us hurting from very real losses, and maybe all of us a bit, or more than a bit wiser. Celebrate that! Give yourself a pat on the back, high five, whatever works, and, in some safe way, do the same with someone you care about, who also got through, and who maybe helped you to do so. And carry on, looking forward to summer, and hopefully to a life that begins to look more and more like the life we want to be living, a little more secure in the knowledge that when your boat gets rocked, you’ve got what it takes to keep rowing.
Allison Allen is NorthLakes Chief Behavioral Health Officer