I’ve attempted several times to start a blog post over the last three weeks, but each time I’ve struggled to know what to say. To say I’ve been feeling ‘weird’ is an understatement. I think I’ve been through just about every emotion known to man, questioned every thought and, some days, even my very existence.
I know I’m not alone. It’s been a strange time; there is no blueprint or template for this situation. Few of us, if any, have experienced such a dramatic change in our circumstances, and the fact that we’re experiencing this collectively adds another dimension. Ultimately, we’re all just doing what we need to survive and to feel safe. This can look a little weird from the outside. Have you behaved in uncharacteristic ways over the last three weeks? I know I have. I also know that I’ve been irritated and distressed by the behaviours of others.
I’ve found myself resentful of those who are locked down with family, but I’m sure there are people who are resentful of my solitude. I’ve been irritated by friends who are self-employed rejoicing in the Government’s support package as I, like many other directors of small businesses, have fallen between the cracks. I’ve found myself envious of those who appear to be adapting quickly, when I’m struggling to manage my emotions, let alone my business. I’m sure there are people who are envious of me for the little I’ve achieved so far. It’s all too easy to fall in to the comparison trap when we’re floundering and unsure of how we feel or what our next move should be.
I think it’s fair to say that many of us are feeling weird… and that’s OK. But never has there been a more important time to show compassion for our fellow humans, to cut each other some slack. Fear and uncertainty supercharge our survival instincts. We are hypervigilant and our emotions are running on overdrive. We overreact or respond in ways that might appear selfish. We often don’t understand why we have reacted in the way we have, or why we’re so irritated by the reactions of another. Sitting with our emotions and examining what’s driving them can be very insightful. Often the cause of our distress has more to do with our own fear and insecurity than what the other person has said or done.
I’ve reflected a lot on my feelings and behaviour over the last three weeks. Along with compassion for others, I’ve had to learn to be compassionate with myself. There have been times when I’ve had to take my inner child by the hand and reassure her that it’s ok to be scared, and to feel lonely and alone. I’m trying to be kinder when I berate myself for not working hard enough to adapt. I’m trying not to berate myself for eating comfort food, watching trash TV and whiling away hours mindlessly playing Candy Crush (other mindless games are available). I’m trying to give myself permission to just ‘be’, albeit that I struggle with this and get restless.
I have two distinct voices in my head… before you decide I need to be sectioned, let me explain. The first I call Little Miss Motivator. She pops up occasionally and is full of enthusiasm, creativity and energy. She wills me on and says things like ‘you can do this Anita… you are strong and brave!’. Her cousin, Little Miss Doubtful, is less helpful. She suffers from ‘Imposter Syndrome’ and likes to question whether I have the skills or knowledge to adapt to a new way of working. They are in conflict more often than not. Little Miss Motivator chases Little Miss Doubtful (who is always trying to run away and hide). You can do this… no I can’t!… yes you can… no I can’t!. It’s exhausting.
On the plus side I’m enjoying the fact that bras and make-up are non-essential items, I’m not spending endless hours sitting/ eating in my car, or cooped up in hotel rooms, Zoom has enabled me to connect often with friends and family and I’ve rekindled my love of baking and reading fiction. I managed to erect a hammock in my garden, and single-handedly entered and exited it without incident!
I’m learning a new way of being me… and yes it feels weird. If you’re feeling weird too, that’s ok. When we emerge from this surreal cocoon, I hope we emerge stronger, happier and more at peace, having a better understanding of ourselves and the things that are important to us. So, embrace your weird self, try to be self-compassionate and know that this too will end.