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Navigating Uncharted Waters

One week into staying at home during this pandemic. The days have blurred together this past week. Some days have passed quickly. While others have felt never ending. The first two days I wore my sweatpants. Then I finally decided that wasn’t helping me differentiate days. So I started showering, wearing real clothes, and even putting on makeup at times. I’m beginning to get the hang of a life tethered to my computer and headphones after being used to sitting with clients in comfortable chairs in my office.

I’ve spent the week wrestling with my own emotions of anxiety, confusion, and disappointment. Anxiety over those that I love – family, friends, colleagues, and clients – and their safety. Confusion over what the days and weeks ahead could look like. Disappointment about so many upcoming plans that were filling me with joy that are now cancelled or postponed.

My feelings come in ebbs and flows. Some moments feel oddly normal. Talking to clients about self-worth issues, relationship concerns, and questions about identity. And then at times the negative feelings rush in like a wave and knock me off my feet. I push back tears as they creep into my eyes when I think about how long this season could look like or people I love getting sick. While part of my job is sitting with people in pain and helping them navigate through it, I’m not immune to emotions. I, too, am wrestling with these uncharted waters.

None of us have it figured out. I’m reassured by that as I sit in Zoom calls with colleagues as children (and dogs) climb on their laps. I find comfort in talking to clients with a pile of laundry behind them in a back bedroom or calling from their cars to get some confidential space. The world looks weird right now. It doesn’t feel normal.

Expecting ourselves to be in a “new normal” already is unrealistic. And frankly, unkind to ourselves. This week I’ve been focusing lots on showing myself self-compassion.

We act as though our typical lives can easily translate to quarantined life. We believe that we can simply pick up our work computers and find a space at home and move on as though nothing is happening. But so much is happening. For some, kids are at home yelling our name every few minutes. For others living alone, the quarantine feels quiet and loneliness feels like it’s breathing down one’s neck. People are having to fight their spouse for the privacy for conference calls – and creating a fake coworker to blame things on. All of this while also dealing with those ebbs and flows of various emotions.

Be kind to yourself. You’re using so much energy on your emotions these days (or trying to hold them at bay). You don’t have the same amount of energy for everything else in your life like you usually do. You’re already using it elsewhere.

Show yourself self-compassion. Maybe you need to take a walk instead of going for a run. Perhaps it means reading a book on the back deck instead of sending another email. Maybe it means not worrying about your diet as strictly because you have enough other things to focus on right now. Perhaps it means a dance party around your house to “Shake It Off.” Don’t expect life to look exactly the same. Pay attention to what your body, your heart, and your soul needs. Relax some of your hard edges and show yourself grace. We’re all trying to figure this out. There are no clear right or wrong choices right now. It’s all uncharted waters that we’re learning together for the very first time.

Don’t feel like you have to do it alone. Video call friends via Zoom or FaceTime to play charades together, meet with your Sunday school class, or even have coffee together. And call a therapist. Now is the perfect time to care for yourself with a session from the safety of your own home.

Stop trying to follow all the how-to’s out there. Show yourself self-compassion. Be kind to yourself. We’re all trying to find ourselves in this weird way of life right now.

Let’s navigate the uncharted waters together.

P.S. I have increased my video counseling session availability for the upcoming weeks. No in-person sessions are being offered at this time. If you or someone you know could use a safe space to process and reflect on life as well as navigate feelings, please reach out via email or my website to schedule a session. You don’t have to manage your emotions and life in this unknown season alone.

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