One way track: You’ve landed a decent job, maybe landed an interview. Your love life is good, maybe that guy you swiped right to is actually a decent human being and you’re going to see him again for the third time. That trip is booked, the one you’ve saved for and had posted pictures of at your desk for motivation to get through a bad day. You finally joined the gym after a long time of putting it off, maybe now you will stick to it. The dream day is coming up- your wedding or an expected addition to the family, you have a dream board perfectly crafted and your Etsy-bought countdown calendar is finally in the last 100 days.
Then the world slams on its brakes.
All at once, unprepared, everything ungracefully jolts to a halt. Laid off, can’t go out on dates or even see your partner. You’re on the phone for hours with the airline to get the funds back from that dream trip-funds that will now keep you going while uncertainty consumes leisure, following the news and making contingency plans for that big party or big day you have coming up. Holidays are abnormal, there is no gathering around the table and painted eggs with loved ones from afar.
The world stops but you keep going.
The baby your expecting doesn’t stop growing, loan payments don’t freeze, food still needs to be bought and eaten, the health issues we have don’t miraculously become cured, the client overseas still want their deal, the vulnerable populations still need care, criminals still need convicting and rehabilitation. A lot of things, a lot of people fall through the cracks.
If this has taught us anything, it is that we were generally far too comfortable.
We didn’t realize the luxury of being able to plan ahead. To book things weeks, months, years out with confidence that it will happen. We didn’t understand that the ducks that we perfectly lined up, with a contingency here or there, could be derailed so easily and with such ferocity without a blink.
We didn’t realize that the decisions we make day-to-day are all gambles. We were betting that the world was going to go on business as usual. We had wagered income for a flight, peace of mind for freedom from a workplace, time for productivity. It isn’t until we, en masse, ran out of aces that we discovered that the life of “guarantees” was on loan with interest.
We were able to spend next week’s pay “knowing” it was going to come. We were able to plan childcare because we “knew” when school was going to be in and out. We were able to just bop to the grocery store to get what we needed because we had “knowledge” that whatever we wanted was going to be there.
The biggest thing that derailed us was not COVID-19.
It was the assumptions that we built our lifestyles on and adopting those assumptions as absolute knowledge.
Had we been living our lives with the mentality of assumption, estimations, and best-guesses, instead of what we had bluffed as guarantees, knowledge, and entitlement, I think we would all be in a different place.
Does this help pay the bills now? Does this alleviate the stressors of this current climate? No. It doesn’t for me either. But it just reminds me how fragile the system we created for ourselves really is, and how our mentalities need to change when exiting this turbulent time.
“The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry” – Robert Burns