A Change Will Do You Good
How to cope with a return to work in this post-pandemic era.
I do not have many memories of my early childhood, but very clearly remember being dropped-off for kindergarten day after day. The memories stuck because I repeatedly felt nauseous, afraid, and sad to the point of tears. Home was the best place on earth, so why leave? In the blink of an eye, my environment, routine, and circle of safety had completely changed. There were new people to interact with and different rules, food, clothes, and even furniture. Gradually, I got on board with the concept and accepted this new way of life. I hope you will not take offense to the comparison to a kindergartner’s feelings, at the same time, the way some of you have expressed your own feelings to me about our Return to Office, force me to see the similarities. Please trust me, it comes from a good place and there are lessons to be learned.
Since kindergarten, I have moved no less than 20 times. Different cities, states and even countries. I walked into and got comfortable with new schools and offices. It took a lot of effort to find doctors, post offices, and even favorite grocery stores. Making friends and picking-up hobbies became routine. With omnipresent change in my life, I have become an expert at adapting, being flexible and embracing ambiguity. I was and am confident I will figure things out when confronted with uncertainty. Focusing on what matters, be it family, job, better quality of life, or whatever the reason at the time, kept me moving forward and optimistic.
I watched a show recently, in which the lead female character gave some great advice to her younger colleague. When confronted with a daunting situation, she stands tall, raises her arms and roars before starting out. Sounds absurd, right? Well, not really. She is taking control of her emotions by harnessing her power and confidence. She is also verbally releasing tension. (It really works, I tried it!) You could also repeat a mantra in your head, such as “I’ve got this!” or “I am strong and competent” or even, “Kick some butt!”. Visualize yourself tackling whatever situation lies ahead with grace and confidence. Manifest the good, and it will come. We can do anything!
Looking back, I feel for my younger self. That was a lot of change to deal with for anyone, let alone a 4-year-old. Therefore, I ask us all not downplay what some may have gone through and may still be coping with. Did a dear friend and colleague move away? Has anyone lost a loved one in these past 2 years? Are you now caring for someone at risk of becoming critically ill? Have you become agoraphobic and/or suffer from OCD because of germs everywhere? All these feelings and issues are real and extremely stressful, in themselves. By adding our Return to Office onto the pile, it can be quite overwhelming. For me, getting through change and stress were much easier if I had others to help and provide me with support. As a close-knit work family, we can and should do that for each other.
As it turns out, being plucked from my safety zone and euphoric nest had it benefits. I did not know it at the time; in fact, I did not realize the benefits change could bring until much later in life. While a global pandemic has changed this world drastically, in some cases, those changes can be viewed as good if you look hard enough. Returning to the office is a big change, there is no denying it. Your routine will be different, buildings have been remodeled, your colleague may have cut her hair, and people have had babies you can meet. All things to look forward to, no? Now, go on then, roar like a lion and do the best you can to see the sun shining through those gray clouds. A change will do you good.