I think it would be fair to say that here in Australia the reality of Covid-19 didn’t really catch up with us until March 2020. Up until the end of April people were still travelling, in fact my family had a trip to Japan booked for March, and there was still a sense of, “wash your hands and you’ll be fine”. March seemed to be a tipping point. We cancelled are trip to Japan with much disappointment and people started stocking up on toilet paper. Things have been a little wacky for everyone since.
This age of Corona Virus has taught me a lot of things, though. One being that I wasn’t washing my hands nearly enough, and hand-sanistiser (which I had previously been suspicious of) can be your friend. But, I have learnt other, more profound, lessons as well. Maybe you’ve been enlightened in similar ways.
People have a lot more similarities, and differences, than I thought
My default approach when meeting new people tends to be that most people are good, and we all want the best, and that while sometimes our politics or background might alter how we going about achieving that, these differences are surface and innocuous.
Nothing like a global pandemic and a 24-hour news cycle to make you re-evaluate your perceptions. In times of stress the differences between people become starker and peoples core beliefs and values become hills to die on. It’s been interesting eye-opening for me. But, in many ways it’s reaffirmed my belief that we are all the same.
We’re all scared, we’re all trying to protect our loved ones. Many, many, many more people are reaching out with compassion than those reaching out with hate. We’re all just doing our best. And while our personal beliefs may have that manifest this in different ways, and some of those are definitely negative, I have being able to point to things out to my kids and say, “See? Human beings are weird, but we have a lot going for us.”
I had closed my mind to different opportunities
I was born in 1984. I got my first mobile phone for my 18th birthday. I still use punctuation when I text (eek). And, when I went to my sons career dress-up day and there were kids who said they wanted to be YouTubers when they grew up, I was genuinely left scratching my head.
But, if nothing else, Corona Virus has made me aware of how much I was stuck in an old-fashioned mindset of what work is and what a job is. More than ever money making opportunities aren’t limited to what people are willing to offer you. The talents, skills and interests that you thought weren’t saleable probably are. In fact, there’s a good chance someone like you is already out there selling them. Which doesn’t mean we can all be influencers and YouTube Millionaires, but it does mean that with effort and imagination, we can have more agency than we thought.
You can have too much respect for authority
This one is tricky, because it’s one I’m still getting a grip on. Ridiculous, right? But despite my 36-years of life experience, I pretty much believed that those in power know what they’re doing and I could trust them. Anyone from cops to teachers to the Prime Minister. This is despite actually being a teacher and knowing that teachers are no less fallible than anyone else. But watching governments grapple with the unknown, and take polar opposite approaches to dealing with it, gave me pause. And helping my children with their distance learning quite frankly made me angry. How could one school have such vastly different levels of quality in their teaching approach?
Part of this comes back to my own lack of confidence in myself – everyone else must know better than me – and part of this is a privileged upbringing in which I liked school, got on well with my teachers, fit in with what is considered ‘normal’ (ie white, straight, cis-gendered, middle-class), and never really had any need to question the status quo.
That’s not to say that I implicitly distrust or disagree what people in authority are saying. But I had sunk into a kind of happy complacency, and it’s fair to say that that happy complacency has evaporated. Which I think is a good think. At the very least we should all measure the things we’re experiencing with our values and understandings, and asks questions if we find them wanting.