If you’re anything like us, sometimes you find that conference calls with coworkers can turn into therapy sessions. And it’s not because you want them to, but the stressors of life have a way of creeping up on us.
Maybe it was the juggling act of homeschooling your child while under the pressure of a looming work deadline. Perhaps you just got a text from a troubled family member or close friend. Or maybe you just read one too many news articles that day, and the weight of the world during a global pandemic, volatile election and a host of other difficult global circumstances suddenly feels like it’s all on your shoulders.
Whatever it is that’s on your mind, sometimes it helps to commiserate as colleagues and friends. And while we all appreciate the occasional opportunity to do so, we recently got to talking about how we can shift our perspectives and find gratitude in the circumstances that are challenging us.
Rebecca (Director of Client Services and Operations) on finding calm in the chaos
This summer, of all the summers, my daughter started potty training. I can’t count the number of calls that were interrupted due to potty training-related accidents or requests for assistance. It is a vulnerability I never thought I’d be sharing with my coworkers. The mingling of work and family obligations weighed on me heavily for most of the pandemic. The guilt and stress of focusing on one over the other depending on what I needed to do left me feeling helpless. Like most parents right now, without regular school and adequate daycare options, it has been a very challenging time.
As I watched my youngest shed her dependency on diapers, I realized this situation was the universe giving me something I wouldn’t have if she were in daycare – time. Time to watch her grow. Time to help her learn. Time to be there for her. Time to watch her play. I’m grateful for this extra time that would otherwise be spent away from each other – instead catching up on commutes to and from school. One day we will have routines again, but for now, I’ll just enjoy the present. Another positive is she gets to see what me and my mostly female agency does every day. I hope we can be an inspiration for her one day. Lastly, I’ve witnessed a kindness and patience from my team, especially the two women in this blog who I talk with multiple times a day. Not every day is perfect, but I know, at the end of the day, I have a team who has my back.
Lisa (Vice President of Agency Services) on forging a new path
Starting a new job always has its disorienting moments. But coupling the expected unknowns and uncertainties with the unexpected isolation during stay-at-home orders can make for an even more stressful initiation. It was only a matter of weeks from the time I started with the Sweeney team that I found myself at home, forced to navigate a new position, learn the ins and outs of my new accounts and bond with my new colleagues, all on my own. It’s a hard feeling to describe, but if you find yourself in a similar position, I’m guessing you can relate.
Luckily the excitement of the new opportunity and a positive attitude helped me adapt fairly quickly. I embraced all the video calls and took advantages of opportunities to meet coworkers and clients in person – whether it was for lunch, or even just a quick exchange for a project. I have also been able to get to know everyone on a more personal level much quicker than if all our interactions were kept to the office. I know their kids and their pets. I get an intimate glimpse into their everyday lives. It can take years for that veil to be lifted under normal circumstances. So even if we have to get a little more creative in how we collaborate, I’m grateful for the chance to figure it all out together.
Olivia (Associate Art Director) on cultivating creativity
The extra time at home has given me the ability to enjoy creative activities in my free time. I’ve finally started using my sewing machine for little projects around the house, as well as working on making “upcycled” wrapping paper out of brown paper grocery bags and delivery packing. Usually I would be too busy for this kind of stuff, but I’ve been trying to make the most of my newly peaceful schedule by just playing and making like I did when I was a kid. Low-pressure creative exploration like this has helped spark inspiration for my professional creative projects as well.
Rebecca, on putting politics into perspective
Without delving too far into political opinions, it’s no surprise that this year is particularly heated. For the past few months I’ve been turned off by the current political climate – it’s been difficult to consume the news and properly debate with one another about political differences. I’ve witnessed some disheartening debates between presidential candidates and close friends and family alike, and not to mention the heated comments if you dare to scroll through on social media. I tuned it out for a while. But, as we approach closer and closer to election day, I remembered what this all means – people are talking, people are voting, people are passionate. This is what a democracy is supposed to be – we are supposed to have ideas and opinions, and we are supposed to want political representation that represents our views. Whatever outcome the election brings, I’m proud to live in a country where we are free to have opinions and free to speak about them – and where our vote matters.
Lisa, on keeping connected
Like many of us, COVID has forced my husband and me to make some abrupt and significant changes to our social lives. We still limit our activities in public. The way we interact with our family and friends has changed. And while we know it’s ultimately temporary, it can really have its discouraging moments. Looking ahead to the holiday season, I already know that many of my favorite traditions this year will be different. Or they might not happen at all.
So instead of focusing on everything we can’t do, I’ve really been trying to adapt and be positive about the things we can. We’ve invited many of our friends and family over (just a few at a time) to sit around a backyard bonfire (or “bond” fire as I like to call them) for some safe, socially distant outdoor together time. And you know what I noticed? In these small, intimate situations, no one is looking at their phones. We get into some deep conversations, and my heart always feels fuller each time we do one.
I’ve also noticed that I’m in more regular communication with friends and family overall – even if it’s just via text or video chat. Maybe it’s because we all have more time. Or we’re just longing for some normalcy and the chance to be together. Whatever the case, I hope we all come out of this with a renewed appreciation for opportunities we have to be with one another.
We will all have a unique story from the year 2020, but if all we do is let the negativity overcome us, we let a virus tell our story. It’s not too late to look at things differently. So the next time you find yourself in an impromptu therapy session, find a way to help one another do the same.