Managing Expectations

Lots of people have already written posts about how completely abnormal these times are. If you’re a Chuck Wendig fan, you’ve likely already seen his brilliant and profane post. If you haven’t, you can read it here.

Maybe you’ve seen the various memes that are bringing some much-needed levity to the situation.

I liked the one about replacing the 2,500-year-old, cursed lead tablets in Athens. Perhaps you prefer the one about how people wished for the 2020s to be like the roaring 1920s and how badly that wish went.

Or, maybe you’ve seen the Twitter suggestion that we sacrifice a billionaire to a volcano. Just in case. (It’s one of my personal favorites. <shrug> Can’t hurt, right?)

Maybe you’re one of the folks who believes that this is all overblown and those who are self-isolating are fools and sheep being herded by fearmongers.

While I hope your sense of optimism is proven right as events unfold, I doubt that you’ll be vindicated. And if someone I care about is made ill because of your callous disregard for others, you’ll forgive me if I decide to punch you in the mouth should we ever meet in person.

Folks, we are living in interesting times, to be sure. As a Gen-Xer, I feel like I was built for this moment. Staying home, reading, writing, and listening to music? Maybe some tabletop gaming or reactivating my World of Warcraft account? Hell yeah, let’s do it.

(And, by the way, can we PLEASE stop blaming millennials for spring-break partying? According to the Pew Research Center, millennials were born between 1981 and 1996. Those dumbasses on the Florida beaches are members of Gen-Z and were born in 1997 or later.)

Even though the recommended isolation activities play to my strengths, I have to admit I’m more than a little terrified about the future.

I’ve missed the past two weeks of work due to a cough and wanting to be cautious. I’m part-time and not a part of the union contract, so I don’t get any of the benefits like paid time off.

The library staff is still expected to report, but we can’t have any patrons in. At one point, our county executive wanted to ban all gatherings or four or more people who aren’t related. The governor instructed him to back off of that plan. If it had gone into effect, I don’t think I could have gone to work once I’m feeling healthy.

 My spouse is working from home for at least three weeks, and I’ll admit to worrying about long-term stability for her employer if things get too hairy. They provide consulting services to a number of large, multinational corporations. When those companies hurt, their support networks hurt too.

On top of all that, I see a lot of our friends stressing about managing their finances, working their jobs, and educating their kids.

Right now, we’re being asked to take unprecedented steps to protect our communities. It’s natural to worry about these things. It’s also natural to feel overwhelmed by how much our routines have been changed.

The best thing we can do for ourselves is to hold onto our senses of humor and try to be flexible. None of us will be a perfect employee right now. None of us will be the perfect friend, partner, or family member. We can’t be home-schooling experts who raise the next super geniuses.

We can be kind to ourselves and forgive ourselves when we make mistakes. We can offer that same love and forgiveness to our loved ones and friends.

Let’s be honest, staying home for extended times with our family likely will result in some tension and arguments. We can minimize that if we remember that all of us are on edge and worried. The words “I’m sorry” and “I love you” will likely go a long way to getting us through this.

Let’s also remember the bright spots in all the darkness. That luxury brands like LMVH and distilleries are using their equipment to produce sanitizer that they’re giving away.

We can rise to the occasion and be extraordinary in our ordinariness. We can be gentle and loving. We can be kind to the delivery people, cashiers at the grocery stores, and those stocking shelves that we encounter when we venture out for supplies.

We can be thankful for dedicated medical professionals and for the truckers and warehouse workers trying to supply them. We can offer words of thanks to those working in factories and in labs as they perform critical work that could help end the pandemic.

And when the dust settles, we can demand that our elected officials do a much, MUCH better job of preparing for the next global pandemic. Because these events happen, and we always seem to be caught without a good plan.

Hang in there, folks. And please send any really good memes you find my way. I could use the laugh.

(Photo by Austin Neill on Unsplash)

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