What the pandemic revealed for me and my mindsetFeatured

It’s 2024 and almost 4 years after the start of the pandemic, I’ve only now started to breathe, and it’s going to take a lot to be okay with that. But I’m going to do it, and if you resonate with that feeling and my story, I hope you do as well.

2020 led to the most major changes in my life, and I’m sure that’s true for many others here. Because of trouble back home, I ended up moving twice within three months, my job became completely remote yet still precariously hybrid, and I had to struggle to find a new therapist since my previous one only did in-person meetings at the time.

All while trying to muster up the mental strength to continue my graduate program.

To say that I was way in over my head was an understatement, but at the same time, I never felt like I had a moment to center myself. Because of the stress, I found one of my major priorities slipping, and I ended up having to take a break from my thesis program. That sent me in an anxiety-riddled spin, thinking that everything I was doing was not enough, even though I was only one person. I had the persona of a self-sustained woman etched into my mind, and anything below that felt like failure.

That is until I reached out to my support group of friends and loved ones, who were all handling their own major life changes.

I realized later on that what I found from my support group was a huge help, and looking back, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have made it as far as I have without them. Sure, there was a good amount of commiseration; a lot of my colleagues were in a similar boat, some of them even laid off. But what I found when I started to reach out more was a support that helped me pull myself out of my imposter syndrome, something I didn’t think was possible at the time.

My friends were there in our group chat when my boss promised me a better position that wasn’t even available, my partner was there helping me go through the insurance-based challenge of finding the right therapist (that didn’t happen until 2023), and my colleagues and I created our own little pep group when the changes in our work showed the cracks in our failing department management. All this to say, if I did not have the people around me during the pandemic, I knew that the burden I felt on my shoulders would’ve kept me from standing up straight to look around at what I’ve done so far. I started to finally appreciate where I am, and feel positive about where I’m going to be, even with the initial setbacks.

While I was dealing with my own issues during the end of that year, I had a short-term roommate who also had a thesis due, with a much less flexible time frame than mine. I saw her go through the same worries and anxiety about being able to finish her work, when all the schools and libraries were closed, while we were stuck at home with two other (louder) roommates.

I suggested a time block for us to work together in the little living room; headphones on, giving suggestions with our writing. It wasn’t an ideal setup, but the change I saw in her was almost immediate. It was like a small glimmer of hope showed up in her mood. I didn’t know how her support group was set up (or if she had one at all), but I was very grateful to be of some help to her when we were all struggling back then, and still now.

For me, there were many other instances of problems and comebacks during the pandemic. But all of them had the same lesson to teach me: reach out for help, help others as well if you can, and never forget the work you’ve put in to get where you are so far. The me of the past probably wouldn’t even think I’d be set up to finally graduate this year.

Give yourself the space to be able to pause and take a step back to look at everything you’ve accomplished so far, and where you want to be in the future. If you’re still struggling, please don’t feel shame for reaching out for help, and if you feel up to it, show support as well.

The burdens we share are in fact that: shareable. Even if it seems like the world demands us to be independent people; that’s a fallacy. Elpha itself wouldn’t even be a thing if that were actually true. I’ll keep going, hurdles or not, and I’ll also always try to be open to help someone else who needs it.

Holy Moses, @ImaniBK, this resonated so hard! Thank you for sharing your story. "I had the persona of a self-sustained woman etched into my mind, and anything below that felt like failure." Mmm-hmm. Been pushing against that a lot lately. Also, very focused on even if I don't come back the way I was, would I want to? I want to come back as the new me. And that has a lot to do with minimizing the "noise" all around us (which sometimes feels by design, to distract us from our purpose or what really matters), and focus on the love(s) in my life that are few but very dear. Keep making your magic!
Thank you for that, @Jamiepark, I'm happy my story related to those feelings. Yeah, changes in oneself can seem distressing to some, but sometimes it's for the better to move forward. Yes, we do have to deal with a lot of distracting events happening in the world, but keep your loved ones close, and you'll come out great!
Thanks for a simple advice: reach out for help; help others if you can. Agreed, together we survive 💪
Thank you for that. I find a lot of people shy away for asking for help, but it's nothing to be ashamed of. We're only surviving because we rely on each other and vice versa.
@ImaniBK, thank you for writing such a supportive piece that explained your learning to ask for help. As a therapist, I am glad you found the support you needed. As another woman who went through a very difficult time in my life soon after being licensed and then having a horrible accident which rendered me helpless, I understand the hard lesson of how we all need to ask for help. It is in this "interdependent" place we all live, that we aren't taught well how to live there. A+