I’m a planner.
Planning is my superpower. It’s what I do best. I’m the one in our family who already planned, shopped, and wrapped gifts for holidays and events, long before it’s on anyone else’s radar. I schedule our social events, appointments, vacations, kids’ events, and also plan our downtime. I work with the Planner Queen, Erin Condren, for goodness sakes!
And now, I have nothing to plan.
COVID-19 is spreading around the world at lightening speed, and we all need to stay home to fight this together. While my brain logically knows this, I’m not gonna lie, my brain has trouble some days. I’m a planner at heart. COVID-19 has taken away the one thing that grounds me and keeps me calm… my love of planning.
I simply do not know when I’ll be able to plan again, or even how future planning will look. This pandemic has disrupted not only my carefully laid plans for the next few months, but also disrupted plans for millions of others. Graduations, weddings, funerals, sporting events and concerts to name a few. It’s all cancelled for the unforeseeable future.
No wonder we’re worried, unsettled, uncomfortable and anxious. I worry about losing these milestones and this period of time, and how it will impact me and society. And since this pandemic is unprecedented, there’s no guidance from history.
I fully appreciate there are grave consequences for many people; financial pressures, pressures for some to work the front lines despite this deadly virus trying to kill us, and the fact people are dying in hospital corridors. I’m not at all trying to rank suffering. I simply think it would be a mistake to underestimate the pain and disappointment we feel from these losses.
Missing your high school graduation is pretty devastating to a senior who’s worked four years for their high school victory lap. Missing a soccer tournament in Mexico after being called up to represent your state out of hundreds of thousands of kids your age feels pretty devastating. Losing a parent and being unable to grieve the “normal” way surrounded by loved ones with a celebration of life also must be devastating.
For these reasons, I feel sad and anxious some days. I’m desperately aware these moments we are all missing have consequences, and a final semester on a high school campus cannot be rescheduled. It is simply canceled. I live to connect with and experience people. This loss of human experience and interaction is hard for me.
I’m choosing to exercise and journal through these times, paying special attention to my feelings (because I have many!). Anxiety, sadness, anger, frustration, fear. Yet sometimes, dare I say it… slotted in between those yucky feelings … I sometimes feel happiness, contentment, and joy.
I’m trying to see our immediate “losses” as a blessing for our family. We’ve never spent weeks together uninterrupted by others, and probably never will again. I have two teenage boys each with one foot planted firmly in our family, and one foot desperately seeking independence. I’m trying to turn this into an opportunity to make meaningful memories. And bring our whole family closer.
What’s that saying? Something about “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” or perhaps “it’s very rare that an event can be negative from all points of view.”
Either way, it’s clear there are some valuable lessons for this seasoned planner to learn and experience. I’m going to give myself grace when I need it, and dig deep with these feelings.