Uncertain times, shifting values

What do you value most, right now, in this moment? Is it what you valued, in thought and action, before pandemic life? What do you miss most from the life you had before this hit? What are you surprised to find yourself doing just fine without?

We asked, you answered.

What you’re missing

Hugs

“Hugs.” – Eden S.

“I, of course, miss seeing and hugging my grandkids.” – Joyce B.

“I miss hugs and I miss my grandchildren!” – Phyllis F.

“I miss hugging my children. I enjoy watching parents interacting with their children in our neighbourhood.” – Patricia P.

Friends and family

“Not being able to see my kids and grandkids.” – Marion B.

“I miss seeing my family and friends in person.” Mary C.

“My mom.” – Mara S.

“Face-to-face contact with family and friends.” – Julie F.

“My children, sitting at a lovely café in London or Paris and watching the world go by.” – Karen DV.

Personal freedom & spontaneity

“The idea that I ‘can’t’ go out makes me want to go out more, to feel trapped. Even though I often stayed home before for days at a time.” – Marti S

“I miss the freedom to leave the house whenever I want. It’s a loss of spontaneity. We don’t realize how precious some things are until they’re gone. At least this is temporary.” – Amy L.

“I miss spontaneity. Every trip out of the house must be planned to the last detail and then you still have to decide if it’s really necessary.” – Cynthia P.

“I miss being able to jump in the car and go somewhere, even just to the next town for lunch.” – Sheila E.

“I miss the freedom to decide to go out by myself and enjoy a trip to Trader Joe’s, to the thrift store, to meet a friend for coffee. I retired a few years back and it took me a while to sink into new routines. I miss them now.” – Madeline HK.

“I miss those quick trips to the store for fresh bread or fruit.” – Patricia H.

“I miss my girlfriends – seeing the whole gang at science fiction club meetings.” – Erica VDG.

Woman orders coffee from barista in coffee shop illustration

Alone time

“The ability to have my husband leave the house so I can be gloriously alone! He is awesome, but I’m a work-from-home introvert and now I’ve got this extravert dude also working from home and unable to hang out with his friends at the pub. I want my silent nest back!” – Vanessa C.

“I miss the freedom to roam whenever I want” – Jackie M.

Illustration of woman sitting on suitcase using laptop

Travel

“I’m okay at home with family but missing my travel. I had to cancel a trip of 20 days (May 8 to 28) and have no idea of when to postpone to.” – Sheela M.

“The freedom to leave the house and travel. I had to cancel my trip to England to hug my daughter and granddaughter.” – Patricia P.

“I miss local, domestic and international travel, being able to ignore colds and treat them like they’re nothing.” – Kinga K.

What you’re doing just fine without

Busyness, hectic work schedules, noise and commutes

“I don’t miss driving in rush hour traffic to work, or having to figure out what to wear to work every day.” – Mary C.

“I don’t miss the long commute.” – Amy S.

“I am NOT missing either of my two jobs and working six days a week plus nights. I am a HUGE workaholic and worried about returning to it after this pandemic. After weeks of not working, I am loving it more than I ever would have guessed. After this is over, I am going to travel more than ever!” – Cassie B.

“I don’t miss in-person meetings.” – Patricia H.

“I appreciate the silence. And I don’t miss the hustle.” – Karen M.

“I doing fine without being on the road and eating out so much.” – Elizabeth BH.

“I am enjoying the quiet. The road behind my house has become very busy in recent years. Now it’s nice to hear birdsong rather than traffic.’ – Sheila E.

“I now hear birds singing in the morning!” – Lee L.

Illustration of girl and cat enjoying pizza

Consumerism

“I’m doing fine without shopping.” – Joyce B.

“Not only am I buying less, but I have a desire to purge more. Embracing the simple things.” – Eden S.

“I don’t miss bars and I barely miss restaurants.” – Cynthia P.

“Surprisingly, I am not missing going out to dinners.” – Jackie M.

Thoughts from the JourneyWoman Team

This global event has disrupted everyday life the world over. With the necessary shifts in human behaviour to stop the spread, we are also witnessing shifts in perspective, values, and priorities. What will we carry with us into post-pandemic life? Following are some observations and predictions from our team.

A shift away from mindless consumption

This applies to consumer goods, news, entertainment and social media. We’re realizing how little we truly need. Shifting our mindset to those in our world with real needs. Witnessing what serves us to consume, and what doesn’t. Downshifting our intake of sensationalist and fear-mongering news and seeking out the uplifting. Unfollowing accounts that make us want to consume mindlessly or that make us feel consumed by our perceived lack in different areas. We expect this trend to continue post-pandemic, along with a shift towards shopping small and local – and away from big brands except the ones we saw helping out the most. Not only because the world is headed for recession, but because we’re hyperaware of what matters and what doesn’t.

A shift away from doing and towards being

Long before COVID-19, the human world was infected with a virus called busy. We wore it as a badge. We used it to numb and distract ourselves. Now we’re being forced to slow down. Sit with our own company. Be with our families. Out of the boredom of physical isolation, we are witnessing a surge of creativity in all sectors of society – from people young and old, known and unknown, rich and poor. We expect great business ideas to be born in this waiting period. Ones that reflect our shifting values and priorities. That give back to the essential workers who kept us safe, healthy, fed, informed, and educated.

Illustration of woman meditating with nature background

A shift towards nature

Regardless of what season it is where we live, whether we are city or country, nature is our refuge. We’ve never valued our parks, beaches, mountains and other natural spaces more. We’ve never valued nature’s creatures more – from our own pets to wildlife. We’re being forced to open our eyes to the simple fact that we need nature. And the sobering reality that nature does not need us. Breathes easier without our interference. We predict a rise in eco-tourism, outdoor activity-focused travel, and a surge in conservation support and environmental activism.

A shift towards community

In modern industrialized society, we’d lost our sense of community. We had pockets of it, sure. But on the whole, we were disconnected from the collective for all of our connected technology. In our cities, people streamed past one another all day every day without making eye contact, lived without knowing their neighbours by name. Now, when we can’t come together physically, we’re realizing just how connected we are. Not only in our own neighbourhoods, cities and countries but all around the world. We’re seeing how arbitrary and meaningless borders – and other dividing lines – are. We’re saying hello to one another. Singing from balconies and rooftops. Being inspired by the things we’re seeing in other countries. Hopeful trends are taking off globally – nightly applause for healthcare heroes, rainbows and hearts in windows, letters and messages to seniors, teachers finding innovative ways to reach their students. We predict that this community spirit, along with acts of community service and philanthropy, will only get stronger and more creative.

A shift towards human touch – even in the most reserved cultures

We think we can all agree that hugs are at or near the top of the list of things we’re missing right now. Even people who wouldn’t classify themselves as huggers. We foresee handshakes being replaced by hugs or European-style cheek kisses, even upon first meeting. People flocking to the services that provide neutral, pampering human touch – hairstyling, massage, manicures and other spa treatments – instead of buying other non-essential consumer goods.

A shift towards home cooking, communal and restaurant dining

Illustration of friends cooking at a counter

Necessity and a desire to save money has more people buying groceries and cooking at home these days. Even those who rarely did so before. More people are discovering the calming delights of baking bread and other goodies. It’s what happens when we’re forced back to hearth and home. How many of us are missing sharing meals with friends and family members who don’t share our homes? Eating in a restaurant full of human life, conversation and laughter? We foresee an uptick in both home cooking and restaurant dining post-pandemic. A decline in take-out meals. And eventually, when people are comfortable with proximity again, a shift towards restaurants that offer communal seating and the opportunity to converse with strangers.

A shift towards flex working from home

Many employers whose business model supported remote working already offered it to employees on a limited basis. Some argued that communication and productivity were at their peak with everyone in the office. Now, employers are discovering that remote working not only can be done but that their employees are happier and more productive for it. We see this trend continuing in some capacity going forward. We see more employees demanding it. We envision people reconfiguring their work lives to fit the life they want.

A shift towards our authentic selves

Women, in particular, are being emboldened – by choice or necessity – to embrace their authentic selves. Some are letting go of makeup, eyelash and hair extensions, blowdrying and flat-ironing, bras and jeans too in favour of fresh faces, natural hair and ultra-comfortable athleisure. Others are maintaining their grooming routines and wearing the more beautiful items in their wardrobes for themselves – because it makes them feel good. Neither approach is wrong. We think we will see more authentic expression from women on every level, not only physical appearance, and less judgement from each other for it. More championing. More celebrating. More authentic leadership. Some of the most calm, capable and inspiring voices around the world right now are women’s. This is a trend we can get behind and want to see more of.

Amanda Burgess

Amanda Burgess is a Toronto-based writer and creative strategist whose bags are always packed for her next adventure; co-founder of the Sharyn Mandel School in Gobele, Ethiopia; and Acting Editor of Journeywoman. Follow her and her adventures on Instagram @unshakeable.me.

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4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    I am so impressed with this article.Well done!.
    I have felt much loneliness over the last few months.
    I live alone.
    May weather is iffy here chilly winds, rainy, not the nicest time outdoors.
    Planting flowers and herbs and veggies will happen around May 24th weekend…maybe
    I dont drive and the busses and cabs are few and far between here in Edmonton.
    I walk everywhere when i go out.
    I get groceries, bakery and whatever I buy online delivered.
    I depend on friends to go to the greenhouses. I only go to the store to the pharmacy once a month.
    Our lives have changed so much, my independence has been curtailed by covid19.
    The hardest for me is not seeing and hugging my kids and grandchildren.
    Mothers day was proof of that.
    Maybe I am feeling sorry for myself, but it is ok to express my feelings .i feel better for having done that.
    Everything the women have said is true in this article, its just the way it is right now and i pray 2020 goes faster than it has.

    Reply
    • Amanda Burgess

      Hi Marion! We hear you on the loneliness front. And so far, May hasn’t brought us the sunny, mood-boosting reprieve that many of us in North America were hoping for. It’s okay to feel weighed down by the things and people you miss, even knowing that it’s temporary. Glad that you expressed your feelings. That’s what we want this community to be: A place where everyone feels safe and can express themselves. Sending you a big virtual hug.

      Reply
  2. Avatar

    This all rings very true for me, which is a comfort and an inspiration in itself.
    I’d just like to add another ‘shift”, not only in myself but in society generally:
    Heartfelt gratitude for the people who take care of us.
    Not just in hospitals and other medical and care facilities, but also in the places we live, and every single day.
    From family members and caregivers to the countless volunteers in all sorts of capacities; from all the people who are cleaning and cooking for us to those who are stocking and cashiering, delivering packages and collecting waste…
    I/we simply could not live without them. (And hopefully our appreciation will be reflected in more respect for each individual and better financial compensation for those with jobs.)

    Reply
    • Amanda Burgess

      Hi Terri — we couldn’t agree more with your perspective. This global pause has shed light on what ‘essential’ work means — and the value of the workers classified as essential. As you do, we hope that societal appreciation shows up as more than simple lip service.

      Reply

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