Radio 4EB’s Wilma Burton shares reflections on Covid-19: “Old routines feel like a coat that doesn’t fit anymore.”
That first lock-down felt like a blessing. The frustration of delayed trains replaced by a cup of coffee and the newspaper in the morning. Our daily team meetings were reduced to weekly updates.
For many, Corona was a start to reflection. People questioned their job and considered changing. Not because of job insecurity or a better wage, but because there was time and space to reflect on what we thought was important. After all, we do not only work for money, but also for our personal development.
The most difficult part of the Corona pandemic was limiting our contact. Even for the most avid loners among us, that started to weigh down after a while. It has become clear that humans were not made for a long period of solitude. We need the other to share joys and sorrows, to make our lives meaningful.
Normally, you have a network of people to share your daily stress with – family, friends, colleagues – but that group had been reduced to that one other person over the past year and a half: your partner!
Corona was a very clear lens through which people started to look at their relationship. This often happens during a crisis. If something serious happens, we look for connection and support in the other. If you are together continuously and your partner has to fulfill all your needs, it too weighs heavily. You can begin to see Corona as a fire accelerator. Relationships in which things were not going well came under extra pressure. Alienation struck and people came to the conclusion: I don’t want to continue like this.
It’s clear that Corona has put a lot of pressure on our love lives. Did our love life get better or worse? Or were there more divorces?
In work life, a second important finding: many people started working digitally from home. Working in the studio or working from home? It is possible!
Colleagues appeared more important than perhaps we thought. We missed colleagues, the social contacts, a relieving chat. In other words: we really need the nagging, whining, moaning, nit-picking and grumbling of and with our colleagues. We found being able to ‘disconnect’ during working hours is necessary for regulating our stress.
During the lockdown, many people were relieved to get out of the rat race. But after a year or so we noticed that isolation does us no good. And so many are indeed looking forward to the moment when they can stand still on the highway in murderous traffic-jams again!
There are lessons in every crisis that are worth gold. Corona has made us all look in the mirror, think about how we want to organise our lives, our relationships and our work.
What we’ve done with our relationships and our work also applies to our friendships. We’ve weighed them. It’s good to think about who we want to get close to again and which relationships we want to chuck into the bin. It is not possible to return to ‘the old normal’ any time soon. Because the world may open up, but we are no longer the same as before. Our old routines feel like a coat that doesn’t fit anymore.
We don’t like working from home full-time, because then we miss our colleagues. But we also don’t want to go to work full-time like we used to. Employees will not just give up their independence. They want a say in their tasks, agenda, working hours and workplace. We have been able to taste the benefits too much for that!
Again, I say, in crisis we look for connection and support in the other people in our lives. If we find it, we come out stronger. You also hear it from couples, people, workmates, who hardly dare to admit it, who have indeed enjoyed this Corona crisis, who cherish even more what was already there.
Wilma Burton is secretary, broadcaster and panel operator for 4EB Nederlandse Radio Groep.
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