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Pandemic Planning and the Need for Patience with Yourself

Chances are you've heard the phrases "in these uncertain times," "these unprecedented times," and my favorite, "we're in this together” on countless commercials, billboards, ads, etc. If you had asked back in February what your plans for 2020 were, I sincerely doubt that being quarantined for almost the entire year even crossed your mind as a remote possibility.

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By March, concerts, weddings, festivals, birthday parties, and other large events were being quickly cancelled. I began to realize that the idea of the future we are seeking when we plan events months or even years away isn't guaranteed. The future is built on the hope of things in life staying enough the same that annual events will roll along the same way the days of the week do. We put our faith in life to stay the same and for our plans and events to happen on the dates that we somewhat arbitrarily decide.

COVID is forcing us to be patient. We are having to spend more time with our families, and ultimately, more time with ourselves. Without the recreational activities we would normally be partaking in, who are we?

Personally, I usually go to at least 3-5 concerts a month, numerous parties in LA warehouses or in the desert, a festival in the summer, random day trips to beaches, movies, aquariums, zoos….and suddenly, all of those ways to spend my free time were gone. I spent the first couples in quarantine in Zoom therapy sessions lamenting my loss of a social life and also realizing how much I define myself by what I do and who I hang out with. I needed to figure out who I was emotionally, intellectually, and internally. Without outside factors, who was I? What did I do for fun that I could do despite the pandemic? How was I going to spend my days off from work if I couldn't go see my boyfriend or friends? The first few months were the hardest. As someone who deals with anxiety on a daily basis, I have some control issues and like to plan everything months in advance and down to the smallest detail. With the future so unknown, and lockdown looming for what seems forever, I struggled with feeling trapped.

[bf_image id="q5b5ku-1n9t4o-aks41r"] If there's one thing I'm grateful for in this pandemic, it's that I finally started learning to take life day by day. COVID  has made us see that life can come at you in unexpected ways and that if you get too comfortable with a routine, the universe will push you out of your comfort zone and compel you to grow. We need to remember to be thankful for simply being alive, for the existence of our friends and family, the beauty of the world we live in... and consider these more often than just on Thanksgiving! It's easy to get wrapped up in schedules, but we need to remember to take time to simply be. Take the time to meditate and sit with ourselves is an activity that gets overlooked or avoided in normal life, but at least for me, COVID has pushed it front and center.

I keep coming back to these lyrics from (Un) Lost by The Maine, "Control what you can, confront what you can't, and always remember how lucky you are to have yourself." In case you haven't heard it lately, you are enough. What you are is enough, and you don't need a loaded planner in order to be happy or fulfilled. Keep planning day by day, write out your weekly goals and due dates, and hopefully, we can soon go back to making long term plans with the small amount of certainty we used to take for granted.

Michaela Steele is a senior at ASU Online, studying Mass Communications with a Women&Gender Studies minor. Michaela enjoys writing, going to concerts, and binge watching David Attenborough documentaries. She aspires to work in music PR. She's passionate about intersectional feminism, discussing philosophy, and analyzing media. Feel free to reach her at: msteel11@asu.edu
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