Shelter in Reflection
I feel like life has a way of doing whatever it can to make you learn that one really important lesson. If you experience something once and you ignore the lesson you should have learned, you’ll find yourself in another situation in the future that’s trying to teach that lesson again.
For me, that lesson is learning how to relax. I know it sounds ridiculous — how can someone NOT like to relax? Well you can ask any of my friends or family, I’m notoriously bad at this. When I’m home for extended periods of time without anything to do, I get restless and cranky — when all I really need to do is take a breath and enjoy the moment.
This “shelter in place” mandate in San Francisco is life trying to teach me this lesson once again. Funny enough, when I graduated Babson College, I had four months off of doing nothing. and I almost went insane. I actually started a medium article about this then:
What I’ve learned now is that the way you prevent your life from repeating itself over and over again is to take a moment, reflect on your past, and learn the vital lesson. So here are some of the lessons I’m learning as we “shelter in place”:
- Sometimes you have to accept the truths that you don’t want to: For me, this one is about my health. As some of you may know, I was born without my right pulmonary artery (also called a congenital heart defect) that weakens my heart/lung function. Because of this, I am someone who would get very sick if I get the coronavirus. But if you didn’t know this one fact about me, you wouldn’t know that I was at-risk. From the outside, I look healthy. My parents never let my heart condition prevent me from doing things as a child, and because of this I haven’t always taken this condition as seriously as I should have. I’ve had to accept that I need to be extra careful now for my own safety.
- Find joy in the small moments: When you’re spending the majority of your day at home (in my case stuck with Derek Tu — love you!), it can be rather monotonous. I’ve learned to find joy in the small moments, like when we can cook a meal together or get to go on a short walk outside. In the past, I’ve made the mistake of thinking that happiness has to come from a big moment or change in your life, but I think the more accurate view is that happiness comes from the small moments.
- Do something that you never had time to do in the past: I’ve always told myself that I want to learn how to cook. Since I was a kid, I would avidly watch The Food Network (looking at you Chopped!) and wonder WOW! how do these people do it. I’ve used this time in quarantine to learn how to cook some of my favorite dishes including: hand pulled noodles, gnocchi, pasta sauce from scratch, and brownies! I’m going to continue expanding my cooking skills — watch out for a dinner party hosted by yours truly post-quarantine!
- It’s okay to not do anything: This is still one of the hardest lessons that I’ve had to learn and to be honest I’m still struggling with it. I’m so used to being busy all the time, having a calendar filled with work, friends, family, etc. To have all of that wiped away for at least 8 weeks (if not more) is really challenging for me. I’m slowly learning that in the quiet there’s a lot of lessons to be learned and joy to be found.
- Protect your mental space: There’s a lot of heavy content out there — and it’s definitely important to stay connected. But it’s also really important that you protect your mental space. If that means signing off of work at a certain time so you can recharge, or ignoring a phone call because you need to reflect — THAT’S OKAY. Not everyone is going to agree with your decisions, but what’s most important is that you take care of you.
My mom always says to me “everything in life is your ally, you just have to figure out how they’re helping you”.
We all know this situation is really tough and disruptive — and it’s probably going to last a while. But maybe, just maybe, we can use some of this time to take a break and reflect on what lessons we’re learning.