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  • Writer's pictureAnna Blackman

Survival and imperfection

The last blog I wrote was called ‘Stories of Success and Imperfection’ and, given the strange world we now find ourselves living in, imperfection is definitely rife in my life!

So I thought I would reflect on what success looks like for me in the face of a global pandemic. The reason I wrote my previous blog is because I believed sharing my story and my thoughts and feelings regarding work might help other people who felt the same. The motivation for this blog is the same. I am finding our current situation...well a whole range of things…challenging/ surreal/ wonderful/ frustrating/ sad/ energising/ guilt ridden...and if I’m feeling this way surely other people are as well?

So where to start? Let's begin with the emotional rollercoaster of lockdown. Now my

emotions, like everyone else’s, can be up and down over a period of time but lockdownseems to have them up and down multiple times a day. One minute I think ‘yep this is fine, I can handle this and actually it's nice to be able to spend more time at home’ and the next I am thinking ‘I can’t do it any more as I’m [frustrated, angry, sad, drained]’ - pick any one of a number of negative emotions and insert it here! I have been trying to figure out why, because one of the things I’ve learnt about myself over the past few years is that knowing ‘why’ is always the start of the journey to managing the impact. But the ‘why’ in this situation is hard as I still find the whole situation quite surreal. In the early days of lockdown it felt to me like we were in a B movie and any moment I would wake up….and now we are weeks and months into it, it still feels surreal. So, for now, I’m trying to just ride the rollercoaster - and

accept it.

And as for emotions - the one I want to talk about is guilt. This is an emotion I know I feel - and I know others do as it has come up in numerous discussions over the past few weeks. And guilt seems to be impacting many people irrespective of their circumstances - those with kids and those without, those with caring responsibilities and those living alone.

So what makes me feel guilty? Well, the list is long so bear with me. Guilt for not being able to give 100% to work because having a five year old at home all day every day is relentless - and that is before you add in home-schooling. Guilt for not giving 100% to him as work is also pretty relentless. Guilt for not feeling very productive when I am working as it turns out sitting on video conferences all day is even more exhausting than doing everything face to face, which means sometimes I really struggle to concentrate and get things done. Guilt because I know, in comparison to many people, I am very lucky. We have a garden and we live in the forest - I know there are lots of people living in flats who don’t have that and I

know some people living alone must be incredibly lonely. I even feel guilty about the state of my not very clean bathroom!

And guilt is a horrible toxic emotion but also one that I find hard to shake off or manage. And I think our current situation is amplifying all emotions, but guilt in particular. And let's face it - it’s like groundhog day every day, so shifting your mood and thinking is hard. For me, naming it, taking time to process it and talking about it helps. Saying it out loud and talking to others helps me. It doesn’t make it go away but it quietens it. So this is me saying it out loud and sharing it in the hope that me doing so helps others.

So while this is called ‘Survival and Imperfection’ it really is about success and imperfection like my last blog - it's just that success means something very different than it did six months ago.

It means getting out of bed every day and finding the motivation, in our strange ‘new normal’ to ‘go to work’ (aka boot up your computer), take the kids to school (aka trying to get a five year to do some writing!) and process what it’s like to live during a global pandemic. It means adapting to video conferencing for everything, including wine and quizzes with family and friends as well as clients, it means supporting those more vulnerable people in society (for me it's my neighbours) and it means trying to take care of ourselves, not just everyone else (this one is still a work in progress for me).

First published on PwC's website in May 2020


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