As we adjust to our new COVID19 lives, there are many factors at play. The world has changed. Although it may be short lived, the truth is we don’t know when things will return to “normal.”
There is also an added pressure from peers to learn a new skill, bake like Betty Crocker and keep up our daily exercise, all while adjusting to working remotely.
When things get too much, it is a human response to disconnect socially. It is a lot easier to say I can’t, than I can. Just as it is much easier to make excuses as to why you cannot speak with someone, than it is to make the call.
The easiest option is not always the most fulfilling.
Today, I almost took the easy route by making excuses as to why I could not attend a virtual lunch. Organised by a former colleague, Nick Bendel, this lunch was with 30+ strangers. Before the COVID19 lockdown, Nick was on a mission to have lunch with 500 strangers.
Joined by his co-hosts Kaley Chu and John Di Natale, this online meeting was a virtual opportunity for human connection. And I am so glad that I attended. You can watch the virtual lunch on Facebook LIVE here.
When Nick shared a life mantra that one of his lunch guests lived by- “it’s not hard to ask” – my brain went into overdrive. As an avid asker of questions, with a very inquisitive mind, was this also my life mantra?
Did I have a life mantra at all? I must have one!
Storytelling is how we build relationships
As my brain continued to wander, searching for the magic mantra I hoped was buried deep in my psyche, I listened to Kaley’s first lesson. She described the unease she felt when first attending her lunches. This unease was not just because she was initially very shy, but due to the fact she felt she didn’t have anything interesting to say. As a result, she went about trying to learn and experience new things, in order to make the conversations more enjoyable.
She wanted to have stories to tell.
Aha! That’s it! As a writer, stories have always been how I express myself, but when I look deeper, stories are the lifeblood of all human connection.
It is how we relate to one another, how we learn, how we grow. How we share our highs and lows, how we pass on customs and traditions, and how we build relationships.
Even during the craziness that is COVID19 lockdown, we are lucky enough to have the technology available to stay in contact.
Why I live life for the story
All of a sudden I heard my dad’s voice loud and clear in my head, although I do think he said this to me when I was much younger.
“Live life for the story”
Immediately I started to think about how this simple premise has been the driving force behind every one of the twenty nine years I have lived so far. It was my mantra.
This mantra is the reason why I have lived in three different countries, over twenty different houses and have had more than fifteen employers.
Why I have been involved in a multitude of random sports, hobbies and activities, and are continuously asked by friends “what are you doing now?”
It is also the key reason as to why I have always felt comfortable when things change unexpectedly, as they have with COVID19. Why every time I have changed direction in my life, which is more times than I can recall, I manage to come out smiling on the other side.
A change is as good as a holiday
COVID19 has forced upon many unsuspecting people, the kind of changes that I live for. People who have had the same job, in the same city, travelling the same route to and from work for decades, are now in a completely unfamiliar situation.
If you are one of these people, do not stress!
Changing jobs, moving houses, switching careers, or just changing your daily routine can seem overwhelming, if not terrifying. But it can also be exhilarating, exciting, and life changing.
Sudden change is not always a negative thing. In fact it could be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life, if you choose to see the story in your experience.
But what kind of story will I make when I’m stuck in my own home?
Yes, I hear your self-doubt and your excuses. I know them well. They exist within me too, but there is an opportunity for you to create a story from absolutely anything new you learn, or anybody new you meet.
The power of trying something new
Throughout my crazy, unpredictable life I have regularly been met with these “you can’t do it” voices. Luckily I’m a stubborn Taurus and constantly ignored them.
The most amazing thing about change is that every time I moved to a new city, got a new job, changed professional direction or tried a new hobby, I created a new story.
I met new people. I learnt new things. I increased my knowledge. I grew my network. I developed new connections with people I would never have had the opportunity to meet if I had stayed on the same linear path.
Every time something major changed in my life, I added another story to the novel of my existence.
Each story taught me a lesson I had not yet learned. I became more accepting of others, kinder to strangers, more compassionate and empathetic toward other cultures, and more open minded to different world views.
Life stories are more than words
If you choose to live life for the story, you must realise it is not about letters on a page or words spoken.
Your stories become a part of who you are, what you know and how you feel. They influence how you process those emotions, and shape the way you think about the world.
The stars of the your stories are the people you meet, the lessons you learn, the skills you gain. These stories become the foundation of you.
You weave a rich tapestry of life experiences, knowledge and human connection.
Want to find your own mantra?
If you’re looking for your own mantra during COVID19 isolation, why not borrow mine to start?
Looking at your life as a novel of many stories or chapters is an eye opening experience. By remembering stories you have already lived, and actively creating more, you will most likely see a common theme or purpose that emerges, this is your mantra.
This mantra will quietly weave its way in and out of the chapters of your life, the driving force behind why you are the way you are.
If you see your life as a collection of stories, unexpected changes like a global pandemic are less likely to stress you out. Instead of seeing the a lifestyle shift as a stressful experience, you can see it as an opportunity to write a new chapter.
I guarantee this approach is much more enjoyable than living in fear of what we cannot control.