When media and people talk about the COVID-19 pandemic, and try to describe the times we are living in, these are three words they often refer to while attempting to explain the past several months.
Whether it’s the rise of unemployment, the rise of coronavirus cases, or the risks associated with each, it’s enough to make us all lose faith.
To be clear, it’s definitely normal to be afraid and fearful. Fearful of contracting the virus, fearful of whether we’ll return to any sense of normalcy, and what that normal – new or not – will look like.
As a mother of four young boys, with close family out of the country, I’ve experienced my own sense of dread at what’s to come. However, while there remains a great deal of uncertainty in terms of what ‘normal’ will look like and when, there are a number of things we can be doing to help us all remain hopeful throughout this crisis:
- Be Kind — In some ways, this crisis has made us realize that we can all be victims without discrimination. So it’s important to put ourselves in other people’s shoes, and be more empathetic, kinder and at the end better persons. Sometimes only after you suffer do you get better at understanding others. For many of us, we now know how it feels to not be able to visit those we care about. That’s the reality for many people who come to this country seeking a better life, who then can’t visit their families.
- Be There — Slow down. In a society so focused on productivity, consumerism, where we are always running and chasing not sure what. A pause, a break forces us to focus on the important stuff. On what and who really matters. For example, I’m an expat in America, and my family (parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins) live in different countries. Despite complicated time zones, we connect every Saturday via Zoom with cameras, and we share an hour or a meal together. We also talk daily via WhatsApp. I promised my dad to send him a daily text saying that we are ok and doing well.
- Be Family — In a time where we outsource the raising of the kids to institutions, schools, we are forced again to find other ways, to become mom and dad again, to talk and connect more, to share and enjoy ourselves without trips, or distractions. I’m proud to say my band of boys is building stronger brotherhood bonds. With four different ages it’s like having a small classroom, they help each other with school assignments, they play together discovering affinities, they share more and of course they fight more. But I know they will remember this time together forever. Our family quality time is much better, we brought back some old board games, we bike and read together and have family nights where we watch old movies or share stories of the history of the family.
- Be Creative — This pandemic challenge is also testing us to be more creative, to think outside the box, to reinvent ourselves, to take more roles, to explore other areas. Every crisis is at the same time an opportunity to grow and to learn. For example, my husband became a soccer and exercise coach for the four kids, presenting them with different challenges (3 times a week) where they need to get better. We also have pizza-movie/series night, board games championships, cooking together, dancing sessions, Virtual Book Clubs, soccer practices online, Gaming competitions, Spanish lunches, and much more.
- Be Better Together — When individualism is the norm, we discover that the only way out is together. This crisis brings us back to the need to help each other, the message that we are not alone and that we are all responsible for making an impact. That we are part of something bigger than ourselves and that everything that we do influences others and that we are more codependent on each other than we think we are. For example, there are everyday examples of kindness and solidarity. Friends volunteering time to read or call the elderly, buying and delivering groceries, recognizing healthcare workers and truck drivers, or people cooking for others.
These are most definitely unprecedented times, at least for today’s generation, and anxiety around what we’re all experiencing and what the future holds is normal.
‘There’s light at the end of the tunnel’ may only be an expression, but if we all work together to make our own light that much more visible, we’ll be able to ease each other’s fears and start to move forward together.