One thing a pandemic forces you to do is to spend time with yourself. It can be unwelcome, but you really get to know yourself, even – or should I say especially – things about you that aren’t so great. Pre-pandemic I wouldn’t have even recognized in myself a quality that has become so obvious since coronavirus became reality – my need for control.
It’s a privilege that the pandemic has really been the first circumstance in my life where I’ve truly felt out of control. I can do all the right things, but when I walk into the grocery store and the people around me are wearing their masks on their chins, I know that there’s only so much my own face covering can do. I can’t control the actions of others, and I can’t control how my senior year plays out. Coming to terms with that is really, really hard.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed with all of the things I can’t control. It’s easy to be mad at myself for grieving things that feel small and superficial.
So I’ve been working on finding what I can control. I can control my morning runs listening to weird podcasts. I can organize Zoom calls with my teammates. I can sit six feet apart from my friend in her driveway and play with her puppy. I can send people little notes in the mail. I can go on drives and find new places to hike. I can establish little routines and buy myself a planner, even if that’s just because it has cute flamingos on it.
In true control freak fashion, I’ve spent the pandemic thinking of ways to reframe it. It’s hard to twist a global pandemic into something even remotely positive. I know because I’ve tried.
So maybe that’s the lesson. I can’t control everything and I need to stop trying. A pandemic is the perfect opportunity to do just that – because really, you can’t do much else.