Finding the Possible

One of the things that made pandemic isolation so traumatic for some people is that they are the people who tend to set limitations on themselves. (I am one of these people so I speak from experience.)

If you are someone whose general tendency is to say, I can’t do that because… then pandemic isolation was like a giant excuse not to make the changes you wanted to make in your life.

  • I can’t exercise because… it’s not safe to go to the gym, yoga class, walk…
  • I can’t exercise with online classes because… there’s no space in my living room, my husband always has the TV on, I don’t find it motivating…
  • I can’t get the things around my home fixed because… it’s not safe to have repair people come into my home; because it will take forever because everything is slower now with companies so short staffed and supply chains broken down…
  • I can’t find a new job because the job market is so precarious that I have to cling to the job I have; because, especially now, I must keep a job with insurance; because there are so many people applying for new jobs right now that I couldn’t possibly compete…
  • I can’t go on vacation because it’s not safe to travel, it’s not safe to leave my house…

Do these sound like things you’ve been telling yourself?

When I find myself thinking this way, I have to ask myself how true these “facts” are. Yes, we needed to isolate at first to control the spread and we may need to do a full lockdown again at some point in the future. But a lot of people went for walks or runs, or went to outdoor yoga classes in the park, and didn’t catch Covid.

And a lot of people who didn’t want to leave their homes compromised by exercising in their living rooms. It wasn’t ideal, they didn’t necessarily enjoy it, but it was good enough until they could get back to their preferred exercise methods.

A lot of people not only got things in their homes repaired, they actually did full remodels. So many people remodeled their homes that the price of tools and materials shot through the roof.

Many people found new jobs. Last year, when things were at their scariest, they took online classes to improve their skills, cleaned up their resume and LinkedIn profile, and started networking. As things started to improve, they started looking and changed jobs. A lot of people who didn’t take online classes or cleaned up their resume or profile or started networking dove into the market this year. As an employer, I’ve posted four jobs since March 2020 and I’ve got to tell you, the resumes I get tell me that a lot of people who don’t have perfect resumes or profiles, and who didn’t do any networking, or even have the necessary qualifications, apply for jobs. Many of those people get hired.

A lot of people traveled. Yes, there were the idiots who took off for Sturgis or spring break or sent their kids to summer camp unmasked or went on mega-cruises and caused mini-surges. But a lot of people found ways to travel safely: they drove to a rented cabin and spent time in nature. A friend went to Africa and, incidentally, said that she felt safer there than she did here because they were so taking so many more precautions than the U.S. was. (This was last year; I don’t know how they’re doing now.) She didn’t catch Covid. A lot of people traveled safely and didn’t catch Covid.

In my life there have been many times when I’ve said, I can’t because…

When I find myself thinking that, I sometimes find it helpful to ask myself,

If this were possible, what would make it possible?

If it were possible for me to travel, what would make that possible? Earlier this year, before Delta went nuts, I wanted to visit my mother on the other side of the country. I asked myself what would make it possible. For me, it was using all my points to fly first class, to wear N-95s on the plane, and to skip puddle-jumpers, even though it meant flying to a more distant airport.

If it were possible for me to do something about politics – something I had very little control over – what would it be? I voted early and volunteered to work the polls so that others could vote against their hearts, too.

If it were possible for me to start getting out of the house, what would that look like? I forced myself to get outside at least once a day, just to walk along the river for 20 minutes. Then I started walking to the office, where I found myself often the only person there.

There are ways to make things possible for yourself.

If there were a way to make this possible, what would it be?

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