For everyone, these past two years have been chaotic. Although, it’s given me a chance to really reflect on what I truly want from life and to really be in tune with what my priorities are and what I want to do going forward.
What is this?
I wanted to write here how I’m feeling and some of the things I’ve noticed during the last 18 months to two years now. I think it’s important to document somewhere, whether this is the right place or the right tone. I’m not sure, but I have an audience and I have a voice – so why not? I’ve had time to sit and think about what I’m seeing around me. You might agree, you might not. That’s okay. You have no obligation to read this, agree/disagree or comment. I just wanted to put it down somewhere.
The last two years…
Covid-19 has meant working on-site, working from home, some losing jobs, some doing new jobs, masks on, masks off, vaccinating, boosting, shortages, inflation and somehow trying to keep all the other parts of your life going as ‘normally’ as possible whilst putting other things on hold. Communities came together, communities divided. It has been completely exhausting and trying to ‘do-it-all’ and ‘have it all’ is more impossible than ever.
So why are we trying to do it all? When is it enough? When is our life good enough for us?
I think it’s time to be a little bit kinder, to ourselves as well as others – you can’t run everything on full power all the time and we can’t all be the same, particularly when a global event is occuring, in multiple waves. It’s a lesson I’ve found incredibly difficult. I grew up thinking that working hard and pushing myself to do more no matter what meant that I would be successful and be happy and that the people in power truly earned their place and knew best. Really, I was naive to how the world truly is.
It’s only now as an adult that I know that this isn’t fact – what I believed as a child and what I was told was created, a rose-coloured lens for us all to look through. No-one really knows the right thing to do because there is no one way to do things. This is more evident than ever. Just look at the various reponses to the pandemic.
Finishing school and going to university doesn’t guarantee you a good job and financial stability, doing what you’re good at doesn’t always make you happy, to rest only when you’re sick or burned out and trying to fit an ‘ideal’ is impossible when everybody has a different image of ‘ideal’.
Making your own route
They say that we all run our own race in life – I like to think of it more as a route, because a race implies a set time, a set path, a winner and a loser – and who’s rushing to the end? However, it’s very true when they say that we all have different starting points and different obstacles along the way. Being kinder and more mindful of the wider world and each other is the only way we really have of being close to understanding each other and really seeing what it takes to make ourselves happy and have a good life. Holding those who actively ignore broken or corrupt systems to their own selfish needs has to stop. We have to be brave. It’s actively listening and looking for ways to reflect on what we have, where we’ve been, and what we need to do going forwards. And, no, it won’t be easy.
A recent encounter
Someone said to me recently that my generation isn’t angry enough, we don’t strike or protest enough, we don’t vote or use our voices – even with all that social media we have. I literally took a second to try to be calm and respectful in tone and then explained that some people are talking, shouting, protesting, inventing and voting for change, but that maybe they hadn’t seen it, and others can’t afford to financially or emotionally take such steps due to a traumatised and crippling economy. Perhaps because it’s not visible on their doorstep, on their selected TV channels, on the news that they watch… this person looked at me, silent for a moment and I waited for a defensive response, but to my surprise they actually said: you might be right. And they walked away and carried on with their day.
It hit me that I was already preparing to dislike this person, already putting my guard up waiting for an attack because of my age, or how I look to them, wondering why they’d chosen to ‘start’ on me. When in reality, this person just wanted to discuss their perception, wanted to hear from someone else with a different lifestyle and view. They were curious and felt brave enough to speak to me in a calm manner. I walked away from that interaction wishing I’d left the door open wider for more discussion, more understanding on both sides. These moments are just so rare and fleeting.
Labels and boxes
I hate that as a society we have weaponised the labels given to the different generations, Boomers, Gen X, Millenials, Gen Z etc. What good does this do other than to divide? I understand that as people we are tribal, and we like to put ourselves in groups with others like ourselves who can understand us. It’s a safety response. However, shouldn’t we be seeking to look at all of our communities, all of our similarities and differences and learning from them? Shouldn’t we work collectively to take forward our experiences and make a better attempt at making the world better for all?
Every person I’ve ever spoken to, regardless of when they were born, has said they want the world to be a better place, that they did things the way they did because they decided on their course of action based on the information they had at the time. This is why we need representation from a very broad range of people. Young, old, black, white, mixed, religious, non-religious, different sexes, different education levels, differing locations and more. We can’t allow inaction; we will have to embrace difference and change. Willing to accept and apologise for mistakes. We teach this to children all of the time – why aren’t we practising what we preach?
Why aren’t we co-operating better in a world of data collection? In a world where we can communicate more freely than ever. Why can’t we have civilised conversations? It’s okay to not agree on things, but I feel more that we have fallen into two camps – one where we are angry and defensive because we don’t feel seen or heard, and one where we stay silent and scared because speaking up may cause us or those we love more suffering. When did a conversation become a battle? When did our views become weapons?
I know I’m talking in very simplistic terms, that the world will never be a utopia for all, context and historical evidence are words often thrown around – but I have to believe that the struggles we have faced globally in these recent times, all these struggles and difficulties have to come to some use.
A shared experience
We had a global pandemic, a virus that had no bias, no borders & no feelings. I feel that we must be better for ourselves and for those who have gone and those who are yet to come. We will never be perfect or flawless, but we can be better to opening our lives and our societies to others so we can create spaces for all to be heard and thrive and we should utilise a shared moment in time to start conversations towards change.
I don’t have the answer here, but I feel it’s important to say that I am paying attention – I hope others feel the same way that looking back at this global situation and these ever-connecting times, we can use communication, education and effective change to try to be better for all going forward. We all need to be present and accounted for.