A New World; embracing new ways to bounce back

Something you may not know about me is that I have had opportunities to present a workshop on resilience that I have developed. It is something I have researched, practiced and been told by others that I possess. But I am not special in this regard: it is not an inborn talent. The ability to practice and develop resilience is something we all have access to, both for ourselves as people and to apply to businesses we run (and probably lots more places!). We tend to not think about it until life brings us hardships that require us to figure out how to bounce back.

One of the things I always say in this workshop is that sooner or later, if you live long enough, circumstances will arise in which these skills will come in handy. It might come as an event or a prolonged condition. As parents we can encourage that practice and ability. This is perhaps the beginning of where I started reading about resilience; children who were adopted, as mine were, will face an extra layer of identity challenges when they hit their teens, even if no other bumps in the road add any other layers. It is never too early to help them build these skills, just like it is never the wrong time for us to practice this ourselves.

What an unusual time we are living in, in which we are experiencing a collective hardship. Regardless of what angle it is for you or what layers you are feeling, you are in it, like everyone else. And shall I state the obvious? The one we are all affected by is the pandemic.

I’ve been thinking a lot about one aspect of building resilience, and that is community. Breaking one’s isolation is one of the four pillars in my workshop. Within this are several angles to approach this from, and one is community. This is a part that, as an introvert, requires me to actively and consciously work on. For example, the book club at my church has been very meaningful to me—and allows me to simultaneously be me, an introvert who loves to read.

Lockdown has caused a major disruption in how we access and connect with our communities. I know, I am stating the obvious, again. What has been making me pause and think is that I somehow now feel more connected to (some of) my groups and new ones seem to keep popping up. Don’t get me wrong—I miss a lot of social things, too. As a Latina, it has been a hard adjustment to not hug people and stay physically distanced. It was puzzling even to myself that I was feeling more connected to groups, so it took me a while to realize why.

Basically, I feel that Zoom has been an equalizer. For me, that is about being a single mom and about being an introvert. Let’s take my book club, for an example. In order to attend, pre-lockdown, I had to drive almost a half hour each way. My kids are at this in-between stage in which my older son can watch the younger, but young enough that doing so at bedtime is kind of hard. It just didn’t take much to cause me to just not go. Now, I can be home for the club meetings. No commute means the amount of time I am not available to them is cut by one hour. They are still young enough that even though I’m unavailable while on the call, it still matters to them that I am still home. I’m still accessible. Additionally, they now are used to it and don’t interrupt anymore (OK, honestly, it is just less). This is making it so much easier to attend, and so I have not missed one book club meeting since the switch to Zoom. This is just one thing. I am so much more able to attend meetings now, and so I do.

I can also now attend meetings that aren’t even geographically close. As everyone is switching to online, there are more options. I’m loving that. I’m currently taking a class in which the teacher is in Atlanta and so is my study-buddy. Would this have even happened pre-pandemic?

Now let’s take the introvert angle next. Before all this, in a group meeting I was pretty quiet. It was always a little hard for me to jump into the conversation. For me, it is about the sequence of thinking about what the person speaking is saying to then formulating my thoughts and then speaking. Some people are ready to start talking the moment the other person’s sentence ends, but I’m not usually like that in a conversation. (I’m defining introvert here through the angle of someone who generally processes quietly, while extroverts generally talk through their thoughts as they are forming.) In Zoom, it is a just enough harder to have an open forum where people keep their mics on and participate whenever that it creates some need to organize that process, especially as the group gets larger. The lack of visual cues adds a layer of intentionality, such as a moderator prompting a member to speak. These little barriers to spontaneity make it much easier for me to participate, and so I do.

What I am learning is that there is more involved in reaping the benefits of having a community. Showing up regularly and participating fully can make a difference. My only hesitation here is that I still think it is way better to stay involved, even if occasionally, then to not connect at all. Another benefit of access to a wider range of communities is my ability to connect with other entrepreneurs. Businesses sure need resilience right now, too!

Let me know in the comments how lock-down has affected your participation with the communities you are a part of.

If you are interested in further reading about related topics, here are a few books and a TED talk that I’ve enjoyed:

  • Brené Brown. Rising Strong. 2015
  • Cain, Susan. Quiet: the Power of Introverts. 2013
  • Hagerty, Barbara Bradly. Life Reimagined: the Science, Art and Opportunity of MidLife. 2016
  • Solomon, Andrew. TED Talk: How the worst moments of our lives make us who we are. 2014