What COVID-19 can bring
Motivational maxims that encourage us to look at the upside of down moments can come across as tiresome clichés, particularly when we have lost our jobs and businesses, and temporarily lost some of our civil liberties together with our sense of sanity due to curfews, quarantines and restrictions from avenues of much-needed social connection.
With borders and cultures that separate us, the global response to COVID-19 has managed to cause peoples across the world to experience the same kinds of losses and limitations in the same period of time.
Oddly enough, COVID-19 has managed to become a grand unifier in that respect, though with deleterious consequences for poverty eradication, labor and industry, global tourism and healthcare systems throughout the world.
For the past three months, Bahamians have focused on all that we have lost due to COVID-19 and with good reason, considering that the losses are substantial and still mounting.
But what we have not paid sufficient attention to, is what many of us have found or can find in the midst of this pandemic and its economic emergency, if we look beyond the problems of COVID-19’s fallout to its possibilities.
A differing outlook does not erase the needs created by the pandemic’s impact, but can help us to better cope and in so doing, help us to emerge from this unprecedented event stronger and more in tune with what matters most in life.
Employment is essential to provide for ourselves and our families, and there is no getting around that reality.
What is also a reality is that for many of us, our jobs are all-consuming, either because of the hours we must work, the weight of our job responsibilities or our failure to strike a balance between work and family life.
As a result, our family lives suffer, as do our personal lives, and we rarely get or give ourselves a chance to slow down long enough to recognize that we are spending most of our lives trying to make a living, but we do not have much of a life.
For those of us who have been laid off, furloughed or placed on reduced hours as a result of COVID-19’s impact on businesses, we should use this opportunity to find ourselves and our families once again, or for the first time.
It is possible to live in a full house and not know much about who one another truly is, or about what each member of the household is going through.
Many of us are so weighed down with the pressures of work and trying to make ends meet, our children are shortchanged of our focused attention and our presence, even when we are at home.
A good number of us do not know who we are outside of the job we go to every day, and so much of our identity is attached to our profession that interruptions thereto can cause tremendous internal conflict.
Though losing one’s job or being placed on reduced hours is a stressful event, the extra time you now have with your family is a gift that, if embraced, can be used to tackle some of the problems you have longed to address but just could not find the time or energy to effectively manage.
Use the time to talk to your children and spouse more, or to seek to understand how to repair broken Iines of communication.
Our jobs provide us with money to live, but many problems that occur in families simply because we are too busy to properly respond to them, are larger than can be addressed by a paycheck, regardless of the size thereof.
Many of us work at jobs not because we want to, but because we have to.
As the saying goes, “Money gotta make”.
But if COVID-19 has taken you out of that element for now, use this opportunity to evaluate who you are as a working individual, and the goals and interests you have that you may have placed on the back-burner due to the urgency of your everyday realities.
Research available programs that can aid in enhancing your current skill set, or can lead to the development of new ones.
One of the key ways to make yourself more resilient in the job market is to expand your range of knowledge, skills and abilities, and to be open to try new opportunities that may be out of your comfort zone but can prove to be rewarding.
When unemployment significantly reduces your household income, difficult decisions must be made.
For some, the loss can plunge one’s household into or on the cusp of poverty and the dangers it entails.
In other cases, the reduction in income forces heads of households to make decisions about the kinds of optional expenditures the household can live with, and what it can live without.
This can become a discipline-building experience that everyone in the home can be encouraged to participate in.
It can be an opportune time to develop a household budget, and to educate oneself and one’s children on how to examine one’s spending, how to save and how to grasp the basics of investing to build on the money one makes.
It is never too late to develop financial literacy, and a period of reduced income can be golden opportunity to learn about the value of money and how our attitudes about money impact our ability to attract it and better utilize it.
With the economic and social losses of COVID-19 adding up and bringing with it tremendous mental strain, it can be easy to feel that the pandemic has weakened us.
On the contrary, disasters have an uncanny way of causing us to realize that we are stronger than we give ourselves credit for.
Parents are doing more with less, children and teachers are adapting to education in new ways, employers are finding novel approaches to keeping their doors open and spiritual leaders are continuing to provide hope and encouragement to the faithful.
Entrepreneurs are finding their niche to meet the needs of COVID-19’s new normal, local civic groups are stepping up their outreach initiatives and Bahamians and residents alike are developing their own coping mechanisms to help get one another through the crisis.
And though a sense of weariness with ongoing restrictions and uncertainties about the future is evident on the faces of many, what is also evident is that through it all, many can still manage a hearty smile and a thankfulness for God’s faithfulness in the midst of financial loss and a loss of essential connectedness.
The impact of COVID-19 has stripped away trillions in global wealth and has brought economies and industries to their knees.
It has also knocked many Bahamians to their knees, and that time on our knees is in many cases spent in prayer or quiet reflection, after which time we press on in the strength that we have always had, or that COVID-19’s fallout has helped us to discover.
There are also many who are not handling this crisis as well as others, and we must use our strength to help ensure that those who are weak – especially children and the elderly – do not suffer setbacks or violations from which they cannot recover.
There is truth to the adage that how we come through a crisis depends on how we look at the crisis.
As we work through what COVID-19 has taken from us, let’s make the most of what COVID-19’s impact can bring.