According to Greek mythology, the Hydra is a nine-headed gigantic snake-like monster. Like the Hydra, there have been many faces to COVID-19’s impact. For some, it has been as traumatic as losing a loved one. For others, it hasn’t been more than a major inconvenience. Unfortunately, Hercules has not been available to come and rescue us from this monster. We’ve been forced to save ourselves.
For people who are more introverted like me, COVID-19 has given us the gift of time. The exile imposed by COVID-19 allowed me time to read, think, meditate, reflect, and enjoy the peace that came with the slowing down of the outside world. That said, I was not immune to the crushing fact that our desires for life to return to normal were not going to be answered anytime soon. Over the course of the last 20 months, my life and I have changed profoundly in ways that I couldn’t have foreseen or imagined.
For the more extroverted among us who thrive on social interaction, being around others, and engaging in out-of-the-house activities, it has been a particularly tough time. Unable to safely and freely move about and be on the go, separated from the touch of friends and loved ones, missing favorite activities, and having to find new ways to have fun and connect has been difficult. Some have slipped into depression. Others have felt hopeless or helpless or even a sense of despair. Some have gotten angry. That anger has been directed in a variety of ways: Anger toward politicians. Anger toward those who sought to protect themselves by wearing masks. Anger about getting or not getting the vaccines. Anger toward others getting or not getting the vaccines.
Life has changed. Many would say that it’s the result of COVID-19, but many of the changes in our world have been brewing for a long time. Old structures — whether they be media, health care, politics, education, international relations, supply chains, etc. — are breaking down, and we don’t yet have new structures to replace the old. Order will eventually emerge from the chaos, but right now we don’t know what that world will look like. That’s bringing up a lot of fear and anxiety and stress in people. COVID-19 only added to that.
Many people felt that they and/or their world was in crisis. The demands put on them — to help stop the spread, to stay home, to give up many of life’s pleasures — were coming too quickly to process. Their daily routine had been disrupted, and things just weren’t working the way they were supposed to.
But we did what we needed to do — we established new routines, processed the changes one step at a time, and handled the new demands coming from every facet of life as best we could.
Many of us were confronted with the fact that just because something had worked in the past — our jobs, relationships, hobbies, perspectives, and goals — didn’t mean it would continue to work. Things that we had taken for granted were stolen. Our health, safety, survival, relationships, joy — even our ability to purchase paper towels — could no longer be counted on in quite the same way.
Spouses and families had to spend real time together. For some, the increased contact only strengthened the already existing closeness and bonds. Others found themselves looking at loved ones and wondering, “Who are you?”
Many people discovered a desire for more work/life balance. Some found new and alternative ways to make money and survive. Others moved to new places — whether out of choice or by necessity. Many are currently seeking new jobs for better working conditions, more money, or just something new.
COVID-19 also forced people to deal with themselves and those close to them in ways that they may have avoided before. Some people began to rethink what really matters and what is important to them.
Some began to look at their relationships and question whether they were still important. People began to get on our nerves — like spouses or friends or relatives who we only kept in touch with out of a sense of obligation. We clearly saw what and who we treasured, and we realized what we had outgrown.
We can’t begin to cover all the changes COVID-19 has wrought in the world. For so many of us, it forced us to come face to face with several important questions. Is this all there is? What now? What’s next? Do I want something more or new or different? Do I deserve more or new or different? Do I dare ask for that?
Luckily, the answer is “yes.”
Living Skills offers positive psychology counseling, spiritual counseling and life coaching services in Atlanta and online, including for the LGBTQ community. Sessions available by Skype. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.livingskills.pro. Podcast: “The Problem with Humans” now available on Buzzsprout, Google Podcast, and Spotify.