Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them—every day begin the task anew.
—St. Francis de Sales
The year 2020, touted as the year of perfect vision, has been all but perfect. I recall spending New Year’s Eve in church with my sister in our matching 2020 shirts that we’d made just a few hours earlier. We’d made plans for all the things we’d accomplish this year: joint business ventures, sister trips to exotic locales, and more time spent together cherishing the joys of family. But in March, this all seemed to come to a screeching halt when the COVID pandemic hit.
I’ll be honest. At first, I was excited to get an extra week following Spring Break. But that week turned into months of pandemonium, months of uncertainty, months of social isolation. I started to lament all the things that COVID took away. During the first few weeks, I put tremendous pressure on myself to be extra productive. I’d reorganized the kitchen, cleaned out a bedroom closet, set up a home office, purchased a new vacuum, an exercise bike, a sewing machine, and a Cricut. I was going to be the perfectly fit teacher with the best office space in my clean house where I sewed and crafted in my spare time. It was ridiculous! When I failed, I was subjected to my own, equally heinous, self-beating. It wasn’t until I attended a workshop on “How to POWER Forward in Times of Uncertainty” that I began to look with new eyes at this experience.
During the workshop, we were challenged to change our perspectives, and instead of looking at what COVID took away, look at what is now possible. As I reflect on where I am now, I’m reminded that when things seem harder to accomplish, my motivation is low, and I’m more exhausted than normal due to the added emotional labor of managing life and relationships post-COVID, that I can choose to be patient and extend myself a little grace. I can put the bat down and give myself space to breathe. It is often easier to extend this grace to others, understanding that this time has been challenging on them and they are doing the best they can. I am now challenged to be kinder, gentler, and more patient with myself.
Oh, what my life will be when I extend that grace inwardly!
LaShara A. Davis, PhD, is an assistant professor of communication.