Disorientation in the Uncertainty of COVID-19

The challenge of COVID-19 is bringing us into uncharted territory. The sights we are seeing, the personal challenges we are wrestling, the isolation we daily face. I can’t help but think that we are each in the midst of our own version of the classic movie – Groundhog Day. The repetition of what feels aimless, repetitive, and almost haunting as the end seems to drift further and further away. This can daily lead to fatigue, and challenge your sense of hope, but what I have found to be the greatest loss during this time is certainty. 

I took advantage of my daily routine. To be honest, I didn’t think it was possible for there to be a day where I would question whether it was safe for me to go into work the next day. Whether it was safe for me to shake someone’s hand, or even have restrictions when walking in a park. Is this something you relate to? Are there things you thought were certain that have become uncertain? 

If so, I must confess, that this pandemic at first, was bearable. It felt absolutely compassionate to stay home, to complete work at a distance, and to be intentional about community. But this shifted as time continued. It became less of a choice of compassion, and into an array of unmet needs that were challenging. This loss of certainty is something that I didn’t notice initially. It is something that came through several interactions that were humbling, which I am sure you have similarly experienced. 

Most recently, I was talking with a pilot. And he was telling me that the situation right now in the airline industry is worse than it was after 9/11. The furloughs, the unexpected layoffs, the pay cuts, the suspended travel. Something that he said he took for granted, has now been a theme in which those who serve in the industry are fearful of what may come next. 

Similarly, high school sports and graduation. These were things that I couldn’t fathom the possibility of them being suspended activities. But just the other day, I was driving down highway 26 to see a Graduation Parade for Grapevine High School, where the streets were lined with people 6 feet apart, holding signs congratulating them and wishing they were able to be together to celebrate these achievements and grieve together a loss sports season for the seniors. And I know these are just a drop of water in a bucket filled with challenges that we each are not only witnessing, but also experiencing. These most certainly are uncertain times. 

This does not mean that there is not genuine good that is happening in the midst of the pandemic. I often have tears reading about the stories of how people are creatively celebrating birthdays, weddings, how they are connecting with people that they may have lost in the busyness of life, neighbors delivering groceries to those in quarantine safely. The list I am sure can go on and on. But even with these incredible acts of resilience and creative compassion, the weariness of this season continues. 

Please know it is okay to not be okay. It is okay to feel the things that you do in relation to not only the pandemic, but also the economic strain and impact this pandemic is having. Though our state is reopening, there are still so many unknowns that daily are navigated to attempt to make progress, towards finding a new normal – towards reorienting to what is dearly missed and needed. I wonder if that is what is so painful about this time – that not only are they uncertain, but that they are sincerely disorienting. The aimless Groundhog Day feeling, in which direction can be difficult to find, but relief desperately needed. 

So, the question then becomes, what are ways where direction and hope can be found in the midst of these uncertain times? In the midst of genuine unknown with the pain COVID-19 is bringing. Our answer may be found in the previously mentioned movie, Groundhog Day. Though we were able to see Bill Murray in shock and disbelief of the repetition and the questioning of reality, as the movie progressed, we were able to see that as the repetition grew, his determination did as well. If there were 3 gifts that this movie can offer us during this time, I believe they would be the following;

  1. Your exhaustion is valid. It is wearisome to be caught doing the same thing, to not have the opportunity to do things you normally would. To be in the same environment day in and day out. To hear the pain of those who are fighting COVID on the front lines, and yet still so many cases surfacing each day. Know your exhaustion is valid. 
  1. Be intentional. If you are feeling isolated and confused, try to connect with others. If you are feeling something is not working for you, be open to change. Do as Bill Murray did in the movie, he learned ways to shift his focus. If you are tired of being in the house, spend some time outside. If you would like to do something, that you are unable, be creative and try to redefine how that activity can be done. Honor not only yourself, others, but your intention.
  1. Have self-compassion. It is not easy what you are currently facing. Just like the compassion you share so radically with others; it is worth offering that same kind of compassion towards yourself. You are worth it, and need it during this time. 

Though these may be uncertain, challenging times, please know you are not alone and that we are all facing disorientation together. If you are feeling lost, take a step to bringing your awareness back to what is in your control, and what would be a way you could reconnect with not only what you want to do, but also who you want to be during this time. We may not know what the future holds, or where we are headed, but we would be amiss to not savor the journey that if we keep our focus on, can help steer the ship to the future we hope for. 

Stay Safe. Stay Hopeful. We are in this together. We are in the fight to strive to thrive amidst the uncertainty at Mindful Path Counseling & Wellness. If we can encourage you, support you, help you cope well with this uncertainty, please reach out to us today.