You may be wondering “what is she talking about!!!”
Bear with me, and you will see where I am going…
I think it’s probable that you‘ve never experienced an earthquake (and I hope you never do).
It is not a fun experience, and there are an awful lot of things to take in consideration when they happen. I have lived over half of my life in a country that has them fairly frequently.
In fact, so frequently that when a longer period passes and there isn’t an earthquake everyone gets super worried, because we know a biggie has to be on its way.
Practise vs The Real Thing
When you are at school in Chile you learn all the procedures to be followed when an earthquake happens:
- what to do,
- where to be safe,
- and how to escape after the earthquake has ended.
We did drills at least three times a year, with evacuation and real simulation (which was actually quite useful) but practising a drill and a living through a real earthquake are very different experiences.
The truth is that you are never fully prepared. Your brain knows when something is a drill and when the danger is real. The emotions can be very different. Panic, fear and not knowing what to do can kick in.
When this happens you forget anything you’ve learned about the right things to do, even when you knew it back to front during practise.
It can be much worse if you are in a place you don’t know, or out in the street where cars can move out of control and things fall from buildings (thankfully construction in Chile is quite good and architects / builders have to comply with strict earthquake regulations) but the biggest issue is when people start to panic. When this happens, chaos quickly takes over.
Here is the thing: we have just experienced a huge earthquake, one that has sent chaos across the entire world.
The pandemic we are living through has found us unprepared. We have received very mixed messages and instructions that were often jumbled and unclear. This has meant a lot of confusion about what to do and what not to do.
There will be some who don’t approve of what governments are doing, and others who just won’t do what they are supposed to. This puts everything that has been achieved at risk. There are also many who feel nervous and afraid, and perhaps may fear doing anything for a long time.
Finding a way through
Nothing will be as we knew it before. Several months into the pandemic, some things are restarting and life does seem to be moving towards some kind of normality, but let’s face it, they will never be the same!
Maybe after the summer holidays schools will be back to normal, and many parents could get back to work as they did before. But is that what we really want, or is it time to ask ourselves to find the positive things that this pandemic has taught us and turn some of them into things that change our lifestyles for the long-term?
How many of us have shared more time with our families, connected with more people online, and found new ways to work that allow us to reach new people and places, some of them far across the world?
The future is still uncertain, and we have to deal with that. We must be prepared to find ourselves unprepared. We have to plan ahead but can do so with a new perspective, knowing that things will happen that we cannot control. What we can do is control the way we react, the way we care for the people and places around us, and the way we move on. If we can learn to think like this, it will help us to better understand and deal with whatever comes our way.
Expect the unexpected
Nothing can be taken for granted. Difficult times will always lie ahead and they can take many forms – earthquakes, pandemics, health issues, financial recessions. Or any number of other things I haven’t mentioned and probably haven’t even thought of. I don’t want to be tragic or pessimistic. I want us to learn that life can always throw us curve balls and we must be ready to react, and ready to learn and grow from each experience.
Remember those earthquakes?
The main thing I learned from earthquakes was to keep calm when panic was building up all around me. They taught me to stay focused and remember what I had to do to be safe and to help others do the same. I learned quick reactions and to take action in a calm way, even though everything around me was collapsing.
These same lessons can be applied to the pandemic. I have seen many of the people around me reacting calmly to difficult and often frightening situations. These people (myself included) have been able to grow in confidence as we have taken decisions, pivoting our businesses, finding ways to keep moving and growing instead of sitting down and giving in and letting overwhelm and fear take control.
Of course none of this is easy, and sometimes it is good to sit and cry or be angry and shout, but it is not good to stay in that cycle for too long. Grief is fine. It is healthy way to vent and let go, but there is also a time to move on and continue without blaming other people or the situations we find ourselves in. The time comes when we need to see how we can make things better, and to try and learn through the process.
Overcoming adversities will teach us to grow in every area of our lives, and when some new kind of difficulty comes our way – as it always will – our reactions will be quicker and better.
We know that many things can collapse around us, and many things can be lost. However hard it is, you can learn the skills you need to stand up and start to build again, each time better than the last time.
Have some plans, but not ones that are so rigid they can’t bend. If you plan for contingencies you will see that anything can be overcome, and you will have a huge advantage because you have your roadmap (with different ways to arrive to the same destination) along with the knowledge and strength to face anything.
So don’t be afraid of earthquakes, just be prepared to take action!