BY JEN OLENICZAK BROWN
Everything is different and canceled.
I remember at the beginning of COVID, I was walking our dogs and told my husband: I think everything is going to change.
This was mid-March and my husband called me alarmist and said that it was my anxiety talking (as someone with diagnosed anxiety, this is not an insult). I didn’t argue, but I knew there was something larger happening that we wouldn’t just snap back from.
A few days ago – months from the initiation of the Stay at Home order – my husband said, “Hey. You’re right; everything is different.” We’ve since added a joke that all calendars need a new status of “canceled due to COVID,” as my normal busy schedule of travel, trips, conferences, events, and meetings has screeched to a halt.
I know you’re feeling this too! It seems like everything in life is getting canceled, changed, moved to another form – and the things that aren’t adjusted feel incredibly out of place. What do you do when you feel like your entire life is being canceled?
Take Stock of What You Have
This one might seem hard at first! Take a breath and look at what you still have. It’s difficult when you’re feeling low, but here’s a handy trick I use when I’m thinking about anything that might be critical or constructive: I make sure I have a one to one ratio of one negative to one positive. Yes, you might have had something you were very excited about canceled. And, what’s a good thing that is still on the calendar? Stay true to this ratio, or you might find yourself with all of the negatives and none of the positives.
Look for the Pivot
Thankfully, we have an incredible amount of technology, mostly at our fingertips. As much as we can say, “Wow, too much Zoom is terrible” I can safely say I am grateful beyond belief that we have the technology to stay in touch, and have moved many of my events to digital media. Yes, it’s not the same. And it’s something! Pro tip: don’t overdo it on Zoom or any digital platform. Any medium is going to be exhausting after too much – video, especially! Take breaks, turn the camera off, and go outside.
Allow for Time
This is an awful situation. Full stop. It’s ok to grieve things that you were looking forward to, and fine to feel upset about them. Give yourself time to do that. If you want to be angry, sad, upset, or whatever about something getting canceled – let yourself feel your feelings and then move along to the next emotion. Problems come up when you keep hiding the emotion or try to “check it” at the door of your life – if you’re not feeling them and experiencing them, you’re not going to be able to get past them. Schedule some time to grieve.
Make New Plans
Everything IS different right now! We’re still in an uncertain time, and will be for a while, because things have been changing on what feels like a daily basis. That doesn’t mean you can’t make new plans! Think about our new situation and the one that exists today, whenever today is: what can you schedule? What can you plan for? Make that new plan and get excited about that new adventure. And get creative! I’ve seen such fun events I could never imagine on a digital scale, or a distanced medium. Outdoor events seem more apt for this current stage, so lean into the beautiful summer shade and plan something that you are genuinely excited about.