It is amazing what happens when the world stops. What other chance have we ever had to just stop? I’m talking all of us. At the same time. This will likely only happen once in our lifetime and whilst there are terrible losses of life and key workers in frontline jobs experiencing an altogether different isolation to most of us, what does this mean for the future of our profession?
I find myself wondering this. I don’t know what all the answers are, one thing I do know is that I would never be writing this article as authentically and without any preconceptions, concerns or worries about other people’s judgements as I am right now! That seems to be because this pandemic has kind of put us all on a “level playing field”. We are all playing our own parts as human-beings and for once not focussing on being “human-doings”.
As someone who gives themselves a hard time, is a perfectionist and suffers with depression in dark times, I can’t pretend that I have found isolation an easy place to be in relation to work. It hasn’t been that beanbag on my Bali beach, drinking Smirnoff Ice and listening to natives play classic 80’s hits on their acoustic guitars. What it has shown me, is how bad I am at slowing down and trying to stop. The perfectionist in me has beaten me up every single day- for not eating healthily enough, for drinking too much, for not doing enough exercise and nine times out of ten for not working hard enough.
My motivation went to hide under a rock and my creativity took a long-haul flight to a very dark place at the bottom of the ocean. Inside my own head, I was having a mental World War III with my work ethic. “It’s not good enough Hannah, you must do more, where is your pressure and your whip? Get it out and tell yourself to go and find a new way to create new projects, find more sites, write a million LinkedIn articles and post happy thoughts and motivation for other people on Instagram”.
I got myself into a vicious circle; I continued to put the pressure on. I’m well practised at this, it stays inside my head, building up and hiding from the outside world. I began to realise how much I listen to the annoying woman, constantly nagging me and telling me I’m not good enough for anyone and not good enough for anything. Rather than the horror of doing nothing, I played my guitar, I wrote a song, I made banana bread and Dalgona coffee (like all the cool kids). Just willing my brain to fix itself, find my motivation, dust it off and give it a piece of my mind!!!
Then my body told me to just S.T.O.P. I pulled my knee running, trying to beat my fastest time, followed by my back whilst wanting to create the perfect masterplan. I have never experienced a panic attack that severe (credit here to my other half for rescuing me from my own brain). I found myself unable to sit down. I had deadlines, a report to finish, a Zoom call to lead, drawings to complete and edge teamwork to be a part of. I didn’t have time to stop.
But I spent the day lying flat and the sunshine somehow melted away the end of the world… which still turned on its axis without me grinding the handle (who knew)!
The next day, I woke up early and I went for a long walk. Guess who I met along the River Thames? Miss Motivation! She wasn’t wearing her usual get-up, she was chilled, she was mindful and observant. She walked for miles and she fell in love with how wonderful the world is. That was the point at which I realised how much we can learn as we come out of the other side of this pandemic – we have to adjust. We can learn to make places better; we can take what is brilliant about spaces today and improve our places of tomorrow.
Feeling down made me realise what we have to be thankful for. You don’t have to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm. I encourage everyone to talk and to share – we are all in the same place and we can do this together as a team, however big the hurdles!