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Reflections on the Past Year

As most people do every year, I remember kicking January 2020 off thinking “this will be my year!” I had (and still have) huge aspirations, ideas, and desires but this pandemic has pushed a lot of those plans aside. Again, another lesson that not everything will go to plan but we can still flow with life.

Oddly enough, the power word I chose this year was Surrender. I have had to do A LOT of that so I can at least say that I crushed it when it comes to my theme. 

My parents, who are originally from Hong Kong, were following the news as it evolved on the COVID-19 outbreak in China in January. Of course, they were updating me about what was happening there as it unfolded.

They would ask me if I was going to stock up on food supplies, masks, toilet paper, etc.  

To be honest, I didn’t take them seriously. I actually remember telling them to calm down.

I couldn’t wrap my head around a virus having that much of an impact. How little I knew back then. 

Mind you, I have lived a privileged life in the sense of vaccines, being born and raised in Canada where healthcare is accessible, and where hygiene standards are high. I was pretty removed from the SARS situation because of where I lived during that time too so I personally hadn't experienced a public health crisis in that regard.

But then the day before my daughter’s March break, our government announced that they would be closing down the school for two weeks post break. 

Panic set in. I, along with the rest of my community, flooded the grocery store to stock up on foods and other essentials. I remember that day clearly. Shelves were empty, people had beyond filled their carts, and the checkout line was lined up to the back of the grocery store. 

Everyone was in total fear of what this meant. 

And everyday, I listened to the news vigilantly to make sure I knew what was happening. I found myself scrolling social media for answers, only to find myself even more confused by what was being shared.

My obsession with the news and social media sent me spiraling emotionally and mentally. 

So when I think about how I would have responded differently had I known what was coming, I guess I had a bit of a heads up since my parents were staying up to date on the news as the virus travelled around the world. 

Unfortunately, I didn’t pay much attention. 

With all of that said, here is a letter to my pre-pandemic self:

Dear Conny, 

You’re in for a wild ride this year.

What will start out as a year of excitement and anticipation will actually be the biggest year of growth and learning to date, for both you and the collective. 

While the world as you have known it will be vastly different for an unpredictable length of time, I assure you that you have the strength and resiliency to get through this. 

Some words of advice:

  • Appreciate and prioritize health over all else. Support your body and family as well as possible with healthy habits.
  • Limit your news and social media time. You will crave certainty, which is human nature. But I can guarantee these sources are not where you will get it from. Feel free to do timed check ins to see what is happening but for your mental health, resist the urge to play the news in the background all day and use critical thinking when it comes to what you read.
  • There will be a lot of changes. Get comfortable with change.
  • Because of the physical distancing, you won’t be seeing your friends or family for an undetermined amount of time so get comfortable with video calls and look for creative ways to build connection with the outside world.
  • Feel it all. Tons of different emotions will come up as you go through this. Panic, fear, grief, sadness, loneliness, anxiety, courage, neutrality, gratitude. Feel it all and allow them to be okay. Remember self-care and a lot of it.
  • Be on the journey. This is a huge growth and evolution opportunity. You can resist it or you can embrace it, the choice is yours. While still acknowledging that you are human so somedays you may throw yourself a pity party and other days you will be ready to take on the world. All of these are part of the process.
  • Ask for support. When things get rough, reach out to your community, seek professional help, or resources. If you have the capacity, offer support to others in need.
  • Practice patience and compassion with yourself, loved ones, and everyone around you. Remember your child is also going through this experience with their own emotions, be patient. People are dealing with this crisis in the best way they know how, be kind.

You have what it takes to get through this. Roll with it.  

Signed,

Your future self

I then asked my 10 year old to write herself a pre-pandemic letter:

Dear pre-pandemic self,

We will get through this tough time together. Hopefully this bumpy ride ends quickly.

In the meantime,

  • Spend a lot of time with friends and family and have a lot of sleepovers because you will miss doing these.
  • Take and enjoy vacations.
  • Explore new hobbies - get some craft supplies, learn a different language (I have been using technology to learn Spanish and sign language), write a book.
  • Even though this year will be different in many ways, you can still celebrate and connect through video. Be thankful for technology.

Love,

Your future self