Does the world feel different now? Do you find yourself forgetting what it’s like to have a normal life, going to work, interacting with other humans and not being self-conscious about it? What about the ability to plan an adventure, or plan, in general? Is it just me, or does that last one really bug you too?  Well, I’m right there with you, but I’m here to tell you, don’t lose hope. We’re all in this together, even from afar.

Photo credit: Kirsten Kortebein

I’ve been feeling pretty isolate lately. I’m a foreigner living in France, during a historical pandemic, threatening not only human lives, but disrupting every sense of normalcy we have grown accustomed to. Families are being torn apart, social lives are suddenly gone, and the dream life of ‘working from home,’ is now becoming a living nightmare (to all those parents out there managing kids, work, partnerships and ‘me’ time, kudos, MAJOR kudos, to you). Here in France, things are pretty strict. Yes, I’m secluded in a cabin, with my boyfriend and his wonderful French family. I’m cooking lots, staying busy with wood chopping or normal cabin duties. I feel quite at home in the woods, 10km from the nearest town with a grocery store, but, even though this is an introvert’s paradise. I’m still struggling. Leaving my home for basic needs is a pain in the butt. If I need to go grocery shopping, I need a signed permission slip (courtesy of the French government). If I need something from the pharmacy – permission slip; if I want to go running – permission slip; not to mention, there’s a time limit (1 hour) and a distance limit (500m from your place of residence). Plus, if a police officer does stop me, there’s a language barrier –  I don’t speak French very well, and there’s only so much my smile will get me out of.

I feel boxed in.

But, when I find myself getting all out of sorts, my mind racing with questions, digging myself deeper into a hole searching for answers that aren’t there, I realize this: I’m not alone. I realize, everyone out there is experiencing something similar. Strangely, we are all in the same situation. Boxed in, isolated, searching for comfort, searching for what we know, or at least, what we knew before. In fact, I find solace in it. It’s curious, that in our individual struggles and isolated experiences, we are collectively experiencing the same thing. All of us, all over the world, at the same time. In my opinion, that’s a pretty cool phenomenon. It’s unifying.

It’s in times like these where we actually become stronger. These obstacles become opportunities for growth, to learn, and be there for one another in more creative ways. I’ve been doing more virtual hangouts lately –  happy hours, team meeting, pancake breakfasts, you name it, and although it doesn’t replace actual human contact, it’s extremely gratifying to see that in the most uncertain times, everyone is coming together.

So even though, we might feel stuck, and frustrated by the unknown, there is an opportunity to lean in, and offer what we can, no matter how small. Every little virtual hug, text, email, phone call or virtual hang out makes a difference. If you find yourself wanting to do more, there are ways to donate to COVID-specific funds too (check out this Virtual Race @irunfar is organizing to donate to the World Health Organization’s COVID Response Fund).

So, let’s not lose hope. Although we might feel like we’re in a bubble, let’s be there for one another, focus on what we can do, and help in those ways – from a safe distance (at least for the time being) – and know that we’ll be stronger from this on the other side.

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