When the Familiar Becomes Unfamiliar

We’re currently in what I’ve been referring to as the “chaotic milieu” of experiencing the pandemic’s return to the office.

Many people planned to go back in September, but the COVID cases are back and our plans have been flipped repeatedly. We were expecting things to have changed for the better now. Instead, we have no clear end in sight. Living with this much uncertainty can make even the most familiar things seem strange to us.

This was definitely the case for me.

Before the COVID hit, I lived in New York City for 20 years. During the worst of the crisis, my family and I moved into a rented house in Northwest Connecticut. It was a safe and comfortable place during a lot of upheaval.

But we always knew we wanted to go back, and with schools reopening this fall, we just felt like it was time.

We were thrilled to be back: we lost our friends, family, and community. We missed my daughter Chloe’s favorite playground. We missed the good bread. We missed random encounters in town. (Yesterday, my husband and Chloe passed by someone walking with a leash turtle.)

However, things aren’t quite the same here, as they aren’t really anywhere at the moment. My new neighbors are wearing masks, some of my favorite stores and restaurants have closed, and there are now written and unwritten rules about interacting in public.

These differences have taken the most common aspects of our daily lives and made them feel unfamiliar.

The city is the same…but different.

Here are some of the ways I work through this uncomfortable and chaotic middle phase. Perhaps it will be useful to you through your own experiences this fall.

Take one small step, then another

I’m a very organized person (#Virgo). Not being able to control and arrange my surroundings fuels my anxiety. But even as I write this, I have piles of clothes, books, and office supplies behind me that aren’t in place yet.

My moving boxes look like metaphors. Everything in the world is still in flux and has not yet found a place to rest. we can You reach herd immunity this year, or we could see another type of virus rear its ugly head. we can We have in-person conferences, or we might just keep staring at Zoom.

I know you feel this anxiety too.

The most common question I received while going out to promote my latest book, RecalculationAnd is, “How can I move forward with my career when things are so uncertain?”

I feel so So strongly. And the only answer I have is to take the smallest possible step forward. No movement progress.

Apply for one job per day. Send one business development email. Do the pushup once.

I’m going to unpack one little box. We will do it together.

Take a chance on yourself

On the flip side, now can be a great time to take a big leap. Since so much is still in flux, you can make movements without causing too many noticeable ripples. I am looking for a career change. Launching the side party. Write a book proposal.

If you try something new and it doesn’t work, you have epidemic cover. Maybe you take steps towards starting your own business, but then you realize it’s not for you. No one will look at you sideways for not being successful in starting a business due to the events of the past two years.

And if it works, you have more time to plan your big move and progress slowly as the “new normal” becomes more apparent.

Find ways to help

Important note: You don’t have to do any of this on your own.

It is critical to become familiar with and use your personal and professional resources. I asked a friend to help me unpack and arrange the furniture. And you know what? With the two of us working toward a common goal, we were able to return order to chaos more quickly.

You don’t have to ask for free services if it makes you uncomfortable. Find something to offer in return. It’s like the Buy Nothing project on Facebook. You may have a skill set that you can share with someone who really needs it.

Perhaps you could give someone interview advice, for example, in exchange for them reviewing your resume. Even in the midst of constant change and uncertainty, building relationships by helping each other will bring us out from the other side stronger.

As you come to terms with the unfamiliar, remember that one thing is for sure: You are You can control your life even when the world is unpredictable. Don’t let uncertainty stifle you. Keep moving forward, a little bit each day. Now and always.

Leave a Comment