13 things I wish I could go back in time and tell myself before this pandemic started

What a difficult time in human history. Last year, none of us could ever have imagined what this year would be like.

If I could go back and chat with my pre-pandemic self, this is what I would say, and I hope that it will help you too.

Hope is Oxygen During a Pandemic

When life is going well, it’s easy to be hopeful and optimistic about the future. All of that changes during a pandemic. Suddenly, just surviving the trip to the mailbox to collect your mail is a huge win.

Without hope, it’s easy to give in to the situation and feel helpless. Helplessness is not a good master. Faith helps you to wake up and face the new world you now live in.

Pandemics Give You Perspective

Life can become dull and mundane, and often we let that process happen by accident. Times of uncertainty change all of that.

A pandemic gives you perspective by forcing you to use your imagination. Your imagination helps paint a bearable future while you endure the hardships of not being able to leave your home or feel safe.

Without a pandemic, you keep thinking life is going to go up and up. It does over time, but not without the dips. This is a once in a decade problem. Our grandparents faced World Wars, and you’re wrestling with an invisible opponent known as a virus.

Every generation has a huge test. Coronavirus is this generation’s test.

There is No ‘Safe’

Touching a doorknob could kill you right now. Hugging a human could be the end of your life.

Before the pandemic, if I told you this would be your reality, you’d have laughed at me. Now you’d shake your head in agreement with me. When a crisis hits, there is no such thing as safe. What keeps you safe is your mind and reminding yourself daily that everything will work out for the best.

The world doesn’t exist solely for you; it exists for all human beings.

The Financial Markets Will Look Different

Knowing how to look after your money during good times and watch it grow is easy. A baby can do that.

It’s what you do with your money during a crisis like a pandemic that counts. Will you stay calm or hide all your money under your mattress? Will you put all your money into a high-risk digital asset or keep some of it in the bank?

When it comes to assets, there are no real safe-havens during a worldwide crisis like a pandemic. Even gold has taken a short-term hit. If you can manage your mindset about money in a crisis, you can manage it through any difficult situation.

You Will Always Find a Way to Be Frustrated

Months ago, I’d kill to be at home all the time. Right now, I can’t think of anything worse.

I’m dying to get out of the house and have decided to resist the urge so I can be responsible and stop the spread of the virus.

Responsibility is the cure to frustration during a crisis.

Gratitude Will Explode

The things I care about during this pandemic are the following:

  • Tea with lemon and honey
  • Being close to my family
  • Watching Disney Movies as a distraction
  • Voice calls with friends

Before the pandemic, this gratitude list would have looked entirely different. Stupid stuff like avocado on toast and owning a home may have found their way onto the list. Now, these silly little things seem ridiculous. Restaurants are closed, and there is no avo on toast — just good old fashion home cooking.

Camaraderie Will Thrive
Do you know what I have seen happen through this pandemic? People have got together. Camaraderie (mateship as we say in Australia) is thriving beyond belief. We don’t survive unless we help others survive.

If one person does the right thing and everybody disobeys the rules, the risk of the virus causing more deaths is high.

We can’t win alone, only together.

Without a pandemic, you can quickly become selfish and focus on your own needs and wants. The homeless people on the street seem ‘unlucky’ while you feel lucky going to work and coming back to your heated home each night.

Right now, any one of us can become homeless. Stable incomes are non-existent, and internet businesses can go from millions of unique visitors to fifty overnight. The way through is together. And it took a pandemic to realize this properly at a subconscious level.

You Will Get Used to Uncertain Times
Freedom, now, looks like staying at home in my 6 x 6 box with a desktop computer. I’d never of thought that idea of freedom to be my reality.

If you told me I couldn’t leave my home, or the local cafe was going to be shut last year, I would have laughed at you. I would have called you a doomsdayer and given you the middle finger. Now, doomsdayers are the norm.

All of us have had to enact a small part of the doomsdayer way of life to survive.

In the first week of the pandemic shutting down our countries, it felt like a big deal. As time goes on, uncertain times can feel normal. I’m not scared right now of the fact everything is shut and the streets are empty. Living at home permanently has become a way of life. My old life of leaving home feels like a distant memory only recognizable in a photo album.

It’s surprising how quickly humans can adapt when forced to.

The News Will Win Short-Term

During a world crisis, the news becomes part of everyday life. To ignore the news entirely is ignorance.

I am being forced to watch a small amount of news to understand what I must do and to continue being a responsible adult. The game is to limit my news consumption to 1–2 channels and focus on being informed rather than panicked.

Getting both sides of the story has never been more critical. Otherwise, doom becomes the future you choose, and every day is raining with thunderstorms.

Your Plans Can Go Up in Smoke

My plan this year was to have a holiday in Greece and Fiji, do more public speaking classes, and write about new and exciting topics.

All of those goals are up in smoke. I’m not even going to the gym or drinking those famous green smoothies anymore. Pandemic life has changed all of that.

You can schedule the heck out of everything and still have your plans cancelled.

Even Entrepreneurs Can Lose

Entrepreneurs are shown on social media as gods with flashy cars who have endless ideas on how to make money.

Most of those entrepreneurs go into hiding during a pandemic. Their business models are destroyed, and their stays in Airbnbs living the laptop lifestyle are on hold, perhaps indefinitely.

My friend is one of the smartest entrepreneurs I know. He did everything right and had a business that went from strength to strength. The pandemic wiped him out after a fifteen-minute speech.

Nobody’s business is safe during a pandemic, and that is a freeing thought. It levels the playing field considerably.

You Determine the Meaning

Social media right now tells you that the world is finished. Millions of people have to die, and even if we make it through, the financial crisis will be bigger than The Great Depression.

During a pandemic, you get to determine the meaning of everything.

You can adopt this fearful picture of the current state of the world or choose your meaning. I am choosing to see this pandemic as a natural evolution to a new way of life. Without the pandemic, we would have kept destroying the planet and creating an even more significant wealth gap.

This situation has forced us to reassess everything, and I’m grateful for that.

During the midst of chaos, everything looks like madness.

After the chaos, it all makes sense.

Every Human is Significant

A pandemic shows us how precious life is. A virus can strike down any person, not just your grandparents.

I woke up yesterday and found out that the person who always chats to me at work in the kitchen has coronavirus. He’s incredibly sick, and I have no idea whether he will make it.

We were planning to take a trip on his boat in a month or so. That dream could be shattered for eternity if he doesn’t get better.

Whether it’s the guy in the kitchen at work, your grandparents, or a person you’ve never met — a pandemic shows us that every human life is significant in a completely different way.

You can’t go back in time and tell your younger self what it’s like to live through a pandemic. It would be nice if you could, but time machines don’t exist. All you can do during a pandemic is stack up lessons and implement them after the chaos passes.

The one thing you can control during a pandemic is how brightly you shine for others. Shine brighter than usual by finding inspiration from your circumstances and sharing it with anybody who might need it.

You will be a better human after a pandemic in every way.

This article first appeared on Medium.

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