A reflection on this chapter of “unplanned togetherness”. A renewed sense of focus, valuing meaningful interactions.

First published here on Medium, 23rd June 2020.

I remember feeling profoundly aware of everything I had to be grateful for as days turned to weeks at the start of this global pandemic and I got to the end of another week, with all my loved ones unscathed.

I’ve definitely focused on building in time each day to acknowledge all that I’m grateful for, as a positive daily habit over the last couple of years. My lens and perspective on what was valuable, (or not), in terms of how I spent my time and who with, continued to change as I settled into adulthood. Subsequently, so did what I was grateful for.

It had already started to be re-defined, (as I’m sure most of us find) when I “settled down”; whatever sense of meaning you take from the phrase. No longer city hopping, or city hopping as a digital nomad and living that life confidently. Investing in property and a home to call your own, creating a partnership with someone that has the same life goals as you. Being in business, fulfilled in a career, entrepreneurship/ intrapreneurship or anything else in between.

Whatever it is, in December 2019, I became acutely aware that my life didn’t need to be busy and filled with “social interactions”, as I had once believed. Simply, that the choices I was making and the interactions I was having, should centre on being meaningful. I started this year well, not saying yes so much and reflecting on what I was getting in exchange for all of the superficial social engagements I was attending.

Not to say that the people I was meeting were superficial, but there is a certain level of mental energy expelled when meeting new people, opposed to your best friends that know you with no bra and a lip wax pending. Then… Corona happened and for the first time in a long time, I felt, strangely. Free.

I’ve said it before, but I’m calling this chapter in my life “unplanned togetherness”. Originally, I attached that definition to my little family bubble, but actually, its come to take on a much broader definition and includes some very significant interactions with people I would not have come across if not for this virus.

When I sat down to look at what was actually happening and where this new euphoric state of gratitude, comfort in solitude and renewed sense of focus was coming from: I calculated that positive thinking + focused intentions = continued meaningful experiences and in turn — gratitude. Please, don’t get me wrong; I have down days, weeks even — truth be told, but what I’m getting better at doing is being present on those down days and feeling the discomfort or upset. It might not be nice, but it can definitely still be meaningful. Some of my greatest realisations have come out of sadness.

So, final thoughts from me. Focusing on meaningful interactions during lock down has really been a game changer for me. It’s not always necessary to be in dialogue with others, “socialising” via Zoom parties and likes on the gram’. Sometimes, definitely; but certainly not always. Pushing the boundaries of comfort into discomfort can really open up new ways of thinking and working. The talk I gave at Women’s Society last week, encouraged everyone that attended to think differently about racism. I was so glad to see everyone lean into the discomfort of that session, knowing that there was so much more to gain if they did.

I really hope that we can retain some of our new ways of working and apply our focus on meaningful interactions to continue the fight for racial equality. If there is one way you can be sure to keep it a focus for you - don’t turn away from difficult conversations. There is growth in vulnerability. Practice gratitude for the things you can change and thanks for the vision to see the work left to do.

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