What started as deafening silence, became a whisper. Then that grew into a hum, and now the buzz of HOPE is unmistakable. There’s light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. We are heading back to normal, whatever that is.
It’s fair to say none of us will emerge from this global event unchanged. So now we have an unprecedented opportunity to re-introduce our old routines to all-or-slightly-new selves. Here are three things to consider including as we roar back to reality: grace, curiosity, and inspiration.
You’re Not Alone
One of the many ironies about the last twelve months is that isolation from one another, and from the lives we knew, was the greatest shared experience on the planet. After being together in our aloneness, shifting to together in our togetherness might require some navigation. Not hugely, but I’m a different person than I was last spring. So are you. Let’s bring grace to our renewed relationships. Zoom calls don’t show behind-the-scenes struggles, and with mental health crises skyrocketing, the compassion you offer might be needed more than you know.
Plus, this can have spectacular perks. You have a chance to form new friendships with old friends. After a year of working in a kitchen nook watching squirrels, birds, and bunnies live out their lives in the backyard, I view the world differently. More slowly and deliberately, I hope. Many friends tell me they’ve gone through the same shift. Others, not so much. So, as you return, reunite, and re-integrate, do so with an open mind and with grace. You might learn new things about your friends, your coworkers, and yourself.
How Have You Grown?
Nope. This isn’t a snide reference to the side effects of loungewear and a home office near the kitchen. Or, maybe it is. It would be lovely to use this space to boast of grand accomplishments but, alas, I don’t get to do that. That’s because one of my key realizations revolves around my closet. Or, more accurately, what makes it into my closet going forward. Starting with the obvious, high heels are dumb and a crime against all who value comfort. Also, I can confirm that Mr. Rogers is both a moral guide and my fashion icon. My taste has settled comfortably into the Grandpa Aesthetic and I’m cool with it.
More profound growth is certainly attainable. With work. And by asking questions. “Who are you now? How are you changed? What are you doing about it?”
There it is. The starting guide, summed up in three questions. Feel free to substitute your own, but do start with questions. They are the best tools fueled by curiosity and fed with insight. Adding an inquisitive, open mind to your conversations helps you understand old friends in new ways and makes forming new allies more rewarding. And with strong allies and inspiration, you can do almost anything.
What Are You Gonna Do About It?
Most people I’ve talked to say they chose a favorite locally-owned restaurant or two to patronize regularly for the past year. This commitment kept the doors open for many loved, local establishments. In fact, one survey found around 70% of Americans shopped local in 2020. And, a whopping 82% say they will spend more to support local businesses going forward. One of the easiest and most fun steps you can take is to join these folks in buying local.
That’s critical because small businesses need your support now more than ever. And your patronage comes with perks. Buying local takes care of your neighbors. That’s not only business owners, but employees, delivery workers, and everyone else it takes to keep a business afloat. Plus, it’s fun to discover treats and wares that aren’t on a million shelves across the nation. So, rather than “add to cart,” consider a stroll down Main Street or a trip to the Frisco Fresh Market for your next shopping excursion. Please, don’t forget that the server at your favorite restaurant, who just saved you from cooking dinner, has likely had a rough year, too. If it’s within your ability and in your heart, consider rewarding generous service with a generous tip.
And, you can go bigger, too. A year in varying degrees of relative lockdown, with nearly unlimited access to content from within our communities and around the globe, has impacted our behaviors, values, and priorities. You can throw support behind promoting social justice, addressing climate change, or any cause that moves you. After all, there is no shortage of people, places, and ideals in need of your energy right now. When, where, and how you direct it is entirely up to you. This is about who you are, and who you are inspired to be, going forward.
Let’s Do This
Some resolutions are made and carried out independently. You likely found some surprise pockets of individuality in yourself last year. Don’t give them up in an effort to return to routine. You grow more by forging ahead than by retracing familiar paths. So, hold on to your authentic self as you return to old habits. Some of your 2020 takeaways will apply perfectly to your perspective going forward. Daily chatter will carry new weight — sometimes more, sometimes less. You can decide to let formerly distracting gossip fall into the category of background noise. You can also decide to be more intentional in all of your interactions.
Other resolutions need a team. We are collectively emerging from an unprecedented, in our lifetimes, event. Coming together, learning, re-learning, and un-learning. Let’s embark on this next chapter with grace, curiosity, and inspiration. Together again.