A lot of us (or maybe everyone on planet Earth) are ready for the new year to begin and officially bring 2020 to a close. Although I hate to be the bearer of bad news the virus won’t magically disappear when the clock strikes midnight and we will still have hurdles to jump. However, I recently heard a new perspective on these tumultuous times I had not considered before that has given me hope. The last thing I want to do is spread fear or worry on my blog as I want this to be a place of inspiration. But I also want these posts to be real.
This blog post is largely inspired by a recent episode on Brené Brown’s podcast Unlocking Us (you can find it on Spotify). When I physically worked in the office (pre-covid) Monday through Friday I listened to at least one podcast episode everyday while working at my desk to get myself motivated in the mornings or when driving to or from work. I became a HUGE podcast fan. Then when I suddenly started working from home I quickly got out of the habit because I stopped driving anywhere and was able to sleep in much later.
About a month ago I started listening to podcasts again to get myself in the right headspace. I have to say Unlocking Us is my favorite podcast ever. That means a lot. I was already a fan of Brené before she started this project as she has devoted her career to studying vulnerability and shame. If you haven’t seen her TED talk, which is one of the most popular recorded TED talks of ALL time, then I highly recommend it. Or do yourself a favor and read any of her five best-selling novels especially now. However, one episode, in particular, inspired me to write this blog post. Brené discusses FFT’s “f*!#ing first times” and how collectively going through a pandemic for the first time is supposed to be scary and steps on how to build resiliency for the future.
This got me thinking. Yes, it is hard to accept we may never go back to “normal” as we knew it in pre-covid times BUT if I accept that there is difficulty ahead, I will be better prepared. There are also so many issues with life before everything changed i.e. systemic racism, corporate greed, and targeting our nation’s most vulnerable populations that I don’t want life to be just as it was before. This is not to say that life will be a constant struggle. Yet, to accept this challenging world we live in and to train for the battles ahead, so our boat is not rocked by every little wave (like throwing my hands up at the slightest inconvenience). A pandemic is one of the biggest tsunami waves we will face. This is an awakening that things will not always go how we plan and to learn how to sail the current that is life.
All of us have experienced heartbreak this year. Even those of us who have been the least affected. I don’t need to list all of the joys we have been robbed of during this time because you know what they have been for you. The worst pain is always your own. If we compare our losses we are engaging in a losing game with no winners. I have experienced anxiety and great sadness from not being able to connect with others like before. (hi, struggling extrovert over here!)
All of us have been forced to deal with the fallout of a pandemic this year. However, there are times in our lives when we need to actively choose to go through something difficult for the first time. Whether it’s standing up for someone experiencing racism or making a positive change in our lives we cannot choose to turn away from scary things by choosing comfort. This is new to me.
Strategies Brené recommends for FFTs:
1. Name It– this is what we’re in
2. Develop Perspective – the struggle isn’t going to last forever and it’s supposed to feel uncomfortable
3. Adjust Expectations – a reality check that you won’t get it perfect the first time
4. Build in Rest & Recovery Time – sleep and let yourself take breaks
5. Get & Stay in Fit FFT Condition– this varies but includes working out and taking care of yourself
A lot of us will have been spending more time alone and less time with loved ones in the last year. I hope these tips help you and maybe provide some encouragement. If anything, know that you’re not alone in your battles this year.
We are living through history right now and you have made it this far. You are stronger than you think. Even when you don’t feel like it. By naming what struggles you’re facing you can begin to heal them. It’s when we hide in the darkness and ignore problems that they fester. You can find the light even in these dark and isolating times, no matter how impossible it may seem.
Please reach out if you’re willing to join my Brené Brown fan club with me (hehe). Thanks for reading! Sending love and light to everyone in the new year. Stay safe y’all!
Podcast episode: Brené on The Queen’s Gambit, Revisiting FFTs, and Resting Our Tired Brains. [Audio podcast episode (December 9, 2020). *I do not own the rights to this podcast
*header image courtesy of stocksnap