Probably the hardest part of all of this coronavirus stuff is the massive uncertainty. (Unless you have experienced the loss of a family member personally, in which case, the hardest part is absolutely what you are going through, and EssaySnark is very, very sad for that.) We’re doing our best to offer straightforward fact-based analysis and discussion of what might happen next, with business school admissions, with waitlists, with your own strategies, with university re-openings, with the experience you can expect as a student in an online curriculum, and again yesterday, with the economy. Basically we’ve become a full-time “how to deal with coronavirus if you want to go to business school” blahg. And, we’re trying to offer a smattering of posts offering advice about stress and emotions and the very real difficulty of just dealing with life right now.
We’re grateful for all of you who’ve been along for the ride!
So here’s another reality check:
WHAT ARE YOU DOING, MAN?
We asked point-blank in yesterday’s post, “What are you going to do about it?”
We wonder if that was received as more of a rhetorical question. It wasn’t meant as one. So today we’re making it explicit: WHAT ARE YOU DOING RIGHT NOW?
A common reaction we’ve perceived among many people is to go into near-hibernation mode. It’s all about the turtle pulling into the shell, or the ostrich and the head in the sand.
It’s not so much about denial, but just feeling overwhelmed, and so the instinct is to withdraw. To hunker down in the shelter-in-place mode with the potato chips and the Netflix or video games and the Zoom cocktail hour with friends, and to become very passive. The attitude seems to be, “Okay, I am powerless, I have no control over what’s happening, I just need to wait this thing out.”
As many of us are coming to terms with the idea that there is a new normal at hand, yet we’re not really able to cognize what that “normal” will be, we are in wait-and-see mode.
We’re relinquishing control of our own lives.
We’re stalled out.
We’re waiting for a savior to come.
Initially maybe you waited for the government to step in and fix things, and you assumed that that would happen fairly quickly. But the one thing that’s become most apparent in all of this is that our current government in the U.S. is beyond inept. The federal government not only has not made things better, it’s almost like they’re actively trying to make things worse. (Don’t even get us started. There would be unending rants about hydroxychloroquine which actually led to GREATER mortality rates, and injecting bleach – what the actual F – and timelines for when a vaccine will be ready, and how many lives will be lost, and what’s acceptable in number of lives lost, and being the one person not wearing a mask when visiting someone in A HOSPITAL and yeah we could keep going here but ok we’ll stop.)
It’s not like we needed proof that the so-called leader of the free world is an absolute narcissist and the policies being implemented from January 2017 to this point were harmful to society. If you want to figure out what to write in an MBA essay asking for an example of you being a leader, then think of any one of the literally hundreds of examples from this administration of how NOT to be a leader, and think of the time when you did the opposite.
If you’re waiting for the government to fix this situation and restore some form of normalcy back to everyday existence for us all, that just is not going to happen.
And yet, it’s a really common reaction.
The thought process goes like this:
“This is really bad. The virus is dangerous. My company-county-state has issued orders to shelter in place. I’m going to do the right thing and stay home.”
That was what most of us did in mid-March.
We went along with it because we are rational human beings who respect science and the physics of the material world, and understand what it means that this is a “novel” coronavirus, and that if we haven’t gotten it already, we will at some point, and even if we’re in an age bracket that doesn’t typically get hit hard by it, we still are responsible for not spreading it to others who are more vulnerable.
And the thinking was, “Wow, this is scary, my life is totally impacted, I wonder how bad the virus is going to be, what are the symptoms, dang, I think I have a sore throat, am I sick?” And there was a lot of panicky feelings and stress levels rose, and it was weird going to the grocery store which was a total mob scene when we knew we were supposed to be distancing but nobody was because they were doing a mad dash to the toilet paper aisle which was empty. And everything was weird and it felt very surreal.
And March sludged its way to April, and we all willingly did the restrictions, and started wearing masks when we went out in public (thank you to those who are doing that), and we maybe held out hope that we’d be able to get back to a “normal” life in May, since many areas that had locked down were set to have those orders lift.
And now…. it’s May…. and in lots of places where lots of you live, the lockdown orders are getting extended.
SO WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO ABOUT IT?
Maybe you spent a few weeks learning how to bake, or you have completely detailed your car from top to bottom to burn off some of your pent-up energy, or you have leveled up in your favorite game in a way that you never thought you could do.
Not bad projects, each of them.
Or maybe you’ve been sleeping… a lot… and having trouble motivating yourself to get out of bed, or shower regularly.
Natural reactions to anxiety and stress. Understandable. It makes so much sense, to want to crawl under the covers and hide.
But here’s the deal, Brave Supplicant:
Outsourcing all decisions for direction in life to the Powers that Be, while you wait for a lockdown order to be lifted in your area, is a recipe for becoming a slug.
Right now we are in an incredible moment of opportunity.
In what way can you CHANGE???
Maybe you’re already doing this, and if so, then kudos to you, and keep doing it.
But maybe you’ve relegated yourself to the Waiting Room.
You know the place. Dr. Seuss warned us about it.
About three years ago, on March 31, 2020, we posted a hypothetical essay question that business schools might ask for their Class of 2023 candidates. The gist of that post was the same challenge as we’re offering today:
This is your life.
Yes everything sucks, and it’s super difficult to plan for the future when we don’t know what that future might be.
But what are you doing about it?
What are you doing TODAY to make yourself a better person?
What are you working on to build skills? To improve?
What projects have you embarked upon to increase your marketability to a future employer?
If you’re interested in an MBA, then by definition, that says you’re interested in an education. To gain something. To change.
In what ways are you walking the walk in what you’re engaged with right now?
There are classes you could be taking online to buff up your resume, to fill those gaps, to address weaknesses that all of us have.
There are ways you could be giving back and contributing. Are there projects in your community to take groceries to seniors? Yes, yes there are, we know that to be true because we’re hearing about them happening everywhere.
Could you do some mentoring with someone more junior? Is there a new hire at your company who is likely feeling a little lost on how to navigate things in a work-from-home environment, who maybe is too nervous to even know who to ask for help on a new project? Or is there a way to get involved with your college as an alum?
If you’re feeling too overwhelmed yourself to even imagine how you might help others because your anxiety and/or depressive symptoms are affecting you, that’s OK, we’re not assigning more to your to-do list today. But, we’ll also offer the observation that often, helping someone else has this unintended byproduct effect of improving our own mood. Getting outside your own pain and frustration by contributing what you know to another could give you that sense of connection you’ve been missing.
Mostly though, we’re asking you: What is your plan?
Are you just going to wait around until the world changes again and then you’ll start working towards the goals that you have?
Why not start that work now? What’s stopping you?
Difficult mental states are legit, and we are sensitive to how hard it can be to break through a fuzzy brain, and we’re not saying all of this to lay some massive new guilt trip on everyone, that you’re not doing more.
We would propose…
Maybe this moment in time presents real opportunity?
How can you change?
What person do you want to be at the end of it?
Imagine yourself in 2022, looking back, telling the story of the person you are now.
“During coronavirus, I responded by….”
Is your Future Self going to be proud of the changes you’ve put in place now?
If not, how can your Today Self make adjustments, to get better in alignment with the potential you know that you have??
As trite as it sounds, all we have is today.
To put an even finer point on it: All we have is RIGHT NOW.
What will you do with it?
How can you change?
What more can you make of this moment?