Posted on April 1, 2020
It’s time to get comfortable with being f*ing uncomfortable
I, like many, have been sorting through the noise. Putting pen to paper is my number one way of making sense of my feelings.
The duality of my feelings has been astounding. I feel both angry and hopeful. Sad and joyful. The intensity has been shocking, and it’s got me reaching into my toolkit (built over the years with many amazing teachers) to lean on a favourite – curiosity.
Being in this state of curiosity has me reflecting on my experiences so far with this pandemic. Two conversations come to mind.
Let me recount these for you.
February 28th – Joanne and I finally found time to connect for a coffee date. If you don’t know Joanne, you should. Email copywriter and writer extraordinaire. Plus, a pretty badass friend. You can find her HERE.
Anyways, she asked if I was changing plans for my New York trip, which was to happen March 8th. I distinctly remember saying to her, “I read the travel advisories, and I don’t think it’s going to affect me, there are very few cases of COVID in the USA right now.” Joanne, in her subtle way, gave me the first clue I didn’t want to pick up on. All she did was raise one eyebrow and then gently said: “Yeah, true, but I don’t think they are testing as they should be.”
At that moment, I wasn’t ready to admit that this was indeed going to affect me.
February 29th – BPW International summit decided to cancel. It was the conference for BPW members to attend before CSW64 (Commission on the Status of Women)started March 9th.
March 2nd – The United Nations shut everything down. CSW64 was cancelled. All the side events, all the formal events, and my plans to travel to New York were over. Later that week, the first few cases of COVID-19 were announced in that area. You know where that sits now.
March 2nd – I was texting my friend Linda (who is a genius with analysis and finding patterns btw – find here HERE) and said “Travel right now is maybe not the best idea.” to which she replied, “It’s coming for us too…sooner or later.”
I started to feel heavy with concern. Was this going to be a problem? Really?
As our chat continued, I shared that I would take the downtime that next week anyway since I had cleared my work schedule. Linda advised, “Consider front-loading the services you need right now – see your doctor, orthodontist, massage therapist etc. Get it done sooner rather than later.”
Looking back, I thought she meant to take care of myself while I had time off. She did, of course, but she also saw that we were quickly approaching a time where those services would shut down.
Enter our current state of affairs.
So why am I sharing all this with you?
Well, because in a matter of a week, I went from “Oh yeah, it sucks they are going through that.” to “Holy crap, they is now us!”
I’ve been pondering this for a few days now while completing the latest puzzle, binge-watching The Big Bang on Netflix with the family.
Decisions have come from our leaders that social distancing, mandatory quarantine for travellers and self-isolation (if you are exposed) are the ways we will start to flatten the curve. Each day we hear about new cases and measures with more significant restrictions on our movements in public.
So why aren’t some people taking this as seriously as others seem to be?
Here is my take.
- It’s fucking uncomfortable.
- We are grieving.
Being alone sucks and feeling uncertain sucks. When we don’t want to handle these feelings, most of us have some coping mechanism that kicks into high gear. I know some that I have used in the past included excessive shopping, scrolling mindlessly on Facebook or Instagram or drinking copious amounts of wine.
Even though I’m uncomfortable (and I’ll be honest, I am damn uncomfortable), I know that I have a choice in finding new coping mechanisms so that I don’t stuff what I’m feeling down to the point of no return.
Here is what has worked for me so far.
- Feeling all emotions
- Journaling daily
- Limiting time on social media
- Looking for an opportunity to learn
That is how I’m approaching the discomfort.
Then my friend Linda wrote a piece about grief and, in true Linda style, created this graphic.
Grief is a topic you likely will hear more about than usual in today’s news cycle. Some of my friends have experienced this cycle intimately. Like many, I have too but not to this degree.
What Linda’s graphic taught me was that every person is likely going through this cycle in some way. Each of us at a different stage. Of course, some people are not going to be taking this as seriously because they have not entered that phase of the cycle. My shift from denial to sadness happened over a few days. I realize others can’t shift that quickly. My frustrations (aka anger) melted into something a little softer – empathy.
This pandemic is going to make us stretch – thinking about a future we never imagined. It’s going to force us to ask for support and, in some cases, be shocked to receive it. It’s going to be a prolonger period of discomfort.
Every single person needs an extra heaping dose of compassion and grace right now. We are all at different stages in different places and different mindsets. Let’s all remember we are each doing the absolute best we can.