My life is amazing, colourful and… very full. Standstill is hard for me because I love to move forward. Searching, exploring, experiencing. I love to be out and have three very different jobs – not because I have to but because I want to. There are too many beautiful things out there that one could do. I’ve built myself a life that I love: I write, I am leading people and I live in one of the best cities in the entire world: Berlin. My best friend lives around the corner, my bank account definitely looks a little better than during my university days and my church reaches thousands of people every week. All. Is. Well.
Until the whole world suddenly hits the brakes because Covid-19 sneakily took over the wheel. What? Who are you? I am sitting in the backseat and my head is spinning. From this moment on I’m constantly checking my newsfeed to literally understand what just had happened. Shops are closing down, restaurants are not even opening up anymore, public transportation is thinned out.
Within days all of my jobs have become very different from what I’ve known: assignments are cancelled, my church is not allowed to gather anymore and the TV-show I am writing on is not shooting anymore. Without me making an active and conscious decision about major life changes someone else flicked a switch and I have to cope with it. I don’t see my friends anymore and need a good reason to be outside. And all of the sudden I am alone with myself. Of course, I am seeing my friends and colleagues online and my church has livestream services on a Sunday but the permanent stimulation from outside stopped abruptly. My everyday life is different, and I had to find my way again in all of this. For my personality type, who is always on the search for the next adventure, I found a few key points helpful to not just see Covid-19 as a crisis but to turn it into an opportunity to reflect if everything in my life is going as I want it to be.
1.My narrative is: this won’t last forever so I’m not getting used to it
After I checked the latest Corona news constantly in the first week and observing and disbelieving what is happening to our world, I decided to turn off the voices. Checking the news once a day is enough. In fact, Covid-19 is making our world awfully small even though there is so much more than this virus out there. Slowly I’m starting to deal with other things again that also interest me. I make plans for “after“ Corona again and decide once more in my life that nothing and no one can stop me because indeed I am unstoppable. I’m thinking about what I want to answer in the future when people ask me how I dealt with Covid-19 in the spring of 2020 and start walking into the direction of the answer I want to give: I couldn’t be stopped, and I used the time given to me as best as I could to sharpen my dreams again.
2. I build myself a structure
As awesome as it sounds to watch documentaries all night and to only live on Ben & Jerry’s, I try to have some structures that still challenge me and help me to have a productive everyday life because it’s so easy to let oneself go these days. At some point that gets really frustrating. To avoid this pain and to make it as easy as possible for me to be out and about after Covid-19, I hold myself to my self-built structures. Another aspect is that I am still getting paid by my employer, so it is my duty to still deliver. And not just somehow but in the excellence, I want to be known for. This is not a plea for “you-need-to-sit-at-your-desk-from-9-to-5” but more so an advertisement for handing in work that we can be proud of. I find it very helpful to get up at the same time, do some sports, read my bible and to use the mornings for productive work. Sports, by the way, I do together with my godchild and other kids out of my world over Zoom – a new tradition that I’m already missing when the 12-year olds have to go back to school regularly. Also, I’m meeting my colleagues virtually for lunch – that helps against loneliness and gives a fixed point at noon.
3. I am pausing for a moment and checking how I actually am
The last five weeks changed me. This sounds very pathetic but through the intensity with which Covid-19 intervened in all of our lives it was impossible to not change. For example, I realized that for months maybe even for years I didn’t sleep enough. Because of my “more, higher, better“ mentality I almost didn’t realize that. I recognized it but put it aside as a price I have to pay. Now I am understanding how much I actually need these two more hours of sleep to constantly feel well and to perform with the excellence I want to put into my work and life. I will also need that after the lockdown and will definitely take that time to do so because – if I am honest – in these two hours I am now sleeping more the magic is not happening that draws me closer to my dreams but are the result of bad time management. Further I used the time to clean out my closet and to rearrange my apartment. There was so much stuff around me that I don’t need but was surrounded by. Get rid of it, more room for new ideas. Or maybe even let it be an open space so other things can take up more room. Internally and externally.
4. I set my focus on the important things
On Mondays I am talking with my Grandma. Actually this is an appointment – when I am good – that I squeeze in every three weeks and put a “check“ behind it if it’s done. In the last four weeks I’ve listened to my Grandma like I didn’t in a very long time. It is so good to talk to her and get to hear her thoughts. I am writing more letters – I love writing but far too seldom I take the time and put into handwritten words what someone means to me. My best friend is now receiving a letter series that I call #quarantineletters and number – just in case I get famous and historians have to collect my memoirs :-). Despite the letters, we try to share life and speak to be close to each other. Sharing thoughts helps against loneliness and creates intimacy. In this moment in time I feel very strongly that every hug, every singing in the car and every shared meal is something special that deserves appreciation. And man, I miss church services. Never again will I take for granted that I as a Christian can gather with fellow believers to worship God. My attitude here has shifted: it is a privilege that developed into a constitutional right because generations before me have fought for it passionately. Throughout the last weeks I thought about how I spend my hard earned money and I realized that I am not willing to throw it after an online giant named after a South American river but to invest into the retail sector who pay their taxes for the well-being of our society. Therefore I quit my very comfortable “prime“ offer and deactivated my account.
Who do I want to be? I used the last weeks to pause for a moment and to sharpen my focus. Also, to let go of some things and to readjust others. Like millions of others, Covid-19 forced a cross-road upon me, and I chose to not allow it to take my summer but instead to use it as an opportunity to reflect on which path I should take, which will lead me closer to realizing my dreams.