To say we have all been through a lot would be the understatement of the year. The COVID-19 pandemic tested our resolve, compassion, and nerves. We were all affected in different ways, but one thing we all share is the formative impression the pandemic has left—and continues to leave—on all of us. All around the world, some countries are “finished” with COVID, but COVID is not finished with them. Meanwhile, in our own country, different states are in multiple phases of lifting quarantines or adjusting protocols. As we transition to the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, how do we handle life after trauma? How do we handle how much has changed, even if we feel like we are transitioning to a place where we want to say: “It’s over”?
Last year we experienced an ever-changing flood of information and had to adjust and correct for every surprise or turn the virus took. Our country and states had to adapt on the fly to keep public safety and integrity intact. While these decisions were made with our well-being in mind, the effects were just as mutable as our microscopic foe. Our normalcy became unfamiliar; our work, home, and personal lives changed. The tapestry of everything we knew was restitched with such alacrity that we all felt whiplash as we faced down ever-growing uncertainty.
In our post discussing stress management, we noted how some factors are outside of our control, but we can alter our position in that kind of uncertainty by expressing ourselves and acknowledging how we feel. This may seem simple, but how many times over the last year have you told yourself things like, “Others have it worse than me,” “I should toughen up,” or “I shouldn’t be feeling [insert totally valid emotion you are feeling but dismissing here].”?
Believe it or not, our personal narratives shape how we weather our uncertainties. Our bodies affect our minds and our minds affect our bodies. When you dismiss yourself, you dismiss your experience, and what you went through this last year is nothing to be dismissed.
While we should not diminish ourselves, we also need to understand and practice compassion for the world around us, and that can be a delicate, bold act. The delicacy comes from how we relate to experiences that run parallel to our own, and the boldness comes from the patience we choose over impatience when we are faced with experiences that run counter our own. The spectrum of reaction and survival throughout this pandemic is vast and complex. As we explored in our previous posts, there will be times when you will need to breathe or step away and both are acceptable. Rushing yourself or others to keep pace with recovery standards, internal or external, ignores all the work and hardship you faced. Everyone you meet, including the person you see in the mirror, will be in a different stage of dealing with the trauma of total life upheaval and uncertainty.
But in a new chapter of uncertainty, one thing is certain—there is another side to all of this. Your work, compassion, resiliency, and patience are part of a brilliant endgame. This does not just apply to COVID and readjusting to reopening, it can also apply to a breakup, a loss, or an injury. The road is long and challenging, but accepting that your position and experience on this road are valid is a step in the right direction. Even if everything around you is uncertainty, there is certainty in the fact that you keep going. That matters, you matter, and what you say to yourself and to others during this time matters as well. There is nothing uncertain about that.