Are You Really Doing That? – Lessons That COVID-19 Has Recently Taught Me

“Sometimes just sometimes, life has its own way of encouraging rest. Seize this as an opportunity to just ‘be’. Take care & love yourself as you would a child”

Carole-Anne Jones, 2022
dog dachshund, black and tan, relaxed from spa procedures on face with cucumber, covered with a towel

Carole-Anne Jones’ words of support in response to a post I wrote on LinkedIn about support I received from my local government health agency when I recently tested positive for COVID-19 really hit home to me. You can read the LinkedIn post here. For so long, I have been going non stop without taking a proper break, and then COVID-19 decided it had other plans for me. Taking time for self-care and rest is at the top of my priority list, as I have been feeling burnt out.

One positive thing to come out of “Rona” catching me was:

I’m calling it “COVID tripping”, but this last week has helped me to reflect and regain clarity of my vision for my future career and life plans. This reminded me of the mantra I had set for myself at the start of the year.

Life has thrown me curve balls this year that I wasn’t expecting, and I subconsciously found myself losing my sense of self, and preparing to to give up on “getting comfortable being uncomfortable”, giving up on hope on future events happening, and meeting again with someone who inspires me to be the best version of myself.

Lessons Learned In Terms of My Personal Life:

I had planned to be in Germany for my significant birthday celebration in October. Sadly, even though I had been hoping to meet with this person since before the pandemic threw the world curve balls, I had to recently make the tough decision to postpone the trip yet again due to personal circumstances beyond my control.

Did this upset me? You bet it did.

Making this decision broke my heart, feeling like I somehow come across as someone not reliable, or not interested, as I had changed my mind after sharing my plans for my trip. I don’t know if we will meet again, but I hope they understand, and hope they know how much I was looking forward to meeting again.

My plans are delayed – not cancelled, I will make it to where my heart yearns to be as soon as I can

So, what did COVID teach me? That I can either sit here in isolation feeling sorry for myself, or be grateful and look forward to enjoy spending time with my friends and what I have around me, and that is what I intend to do.

Since I can’t get to Germany, I’ll do the next best thing. After all, life is too short not to make the most of opportunities and moments.

I’m incredibly grateful that the owner of my favourite Austrian/German restaurant here in Melbourne has kindly said they will be happy to open up on their day off, for a private party to help me celebrate my birthday. They know how much I was looking forward to going to Germany, and were my comfort place when I got back from my mother’s funeral (sometimes you just need comfort food and comfort surroundings).

To get into the mood, at the encouragement of female friends I’ve even ordered a new dirndl for the occasion. I love the colours and pattern on the skirt and bodice.

Have you ever felt anxious about trying something new or stepping out from behind the shadows?

I know that sums me up so well. For so many years I’ve struggled with my body image, so used to being told that I would be more attractive if I lost more weight, or if I was ‘someone else’. I heard this from people who should have been my number 1 pillars of support. It has taken me a long time to start believe in myself. Even now it is very easy for self-doubt to creep in. Whilst I was lying there “COVID tripping”, I came to realise that if I don’t believe in myself, then no one else will. I am who I am, and I can’t and won’t change that.

I won’t apologise for wanting to help others. I won’t apologise for believing in kindness, compassion and empathy. I won’t apologise for not being stick thin nor not looking a certain way. This makes up all of me.

Hello I Am Leaving My Comfort Zone name tag sticker to illustrate bravery and courage in going beyond the familiar to new experiences and growth

To help me symbolically leave my past behind and move forwards towards my future, I have made the terrifying decision to book a professional photo shoot wearing my dirndl, to encourage me to continue to embrace and love who I am. As well as an image to carry of hope for my future life and career plans. This is really taking me out of my comfort zone. In all honesty I don’t think I would have had the courage to take this massive step, if I didn’t already know the photography. I trust her implicitly and feel safe that she will respect my values and vision for the photos to remain tasteful.

Lessons Learned In Terms of My Career:

I was in the process of submitting a job application. I was in fact so close to hitting the final submit button when I became sick. This job on paper was a great job, and one I know I could have easily picked up and done well. If anything, I was overqualified for the role. It involved working with military (former and serving) personnel and families. Yet when I became sick, something made hit pause on submitting the application. I suddenly asked myself

“What Am I Doing?”

Street Sign the Direction Way to NEW LIFE versus OLD LIFE

This role wasn’t on my radar for my plans at the start of the year before mum passed away.

In all honesty, looking back I only thought of applying in the first place as I was fed up and disillusioned with what was going on in my personal and work pillars of life.

In time, deep down I know I would have gotten frustrated not utilising my range of skills, knowledge and experience.

I thought to myself, how would this role impact on my future plans as a Career Development Practitioner supporting mid-career and older workers with their career transitions, here in Australia or overseas?

I don’t want to wait another 2 – 3 years to find out.

I also want to study German intensively at the Goethe Institute to improve my language skills, plus gain my advanced resume writing certifications.

Scenic road to Valley of fire state park, USA

All in all, I had to ask myself, can I see myself doing all of that plus travel next year, and hopefully being accepted as a volunteer for the Invictus Games in Düsseldorf?

The answer was no – that advertised role would constrict me.

So I found myself, taking my finger permanently off the submit button. Did I make a mistake? No. Wise words were giving to me last week when I messaged one of my work supervisors about not submitting the application. They said:

“‘make the decision you make ‘right’, so whatever you decide make it work for you and if its not, then time for another decision. Sliding doors … life is such an adventure”

I have a vision of what I want to do and where I want to go. I don’t have all the stepping stones in place. some are slightly out of reach for my little legs to reach. Some stepping stones may lead to another landing spot.

It is scary as heck choosing to take a risk and following your dreams, especially when imposter syndrome raises its head, or other well meaning people would say, “stick to known elements” or “keep to the safety of the harbour, why set off into unchartered waters?” I know to make my plans/vision happen, I need to address skills and knowledge gap, but hey what is life without a bit of adventure?

I know right now, I can’t put these plans completely in action, but I can prepare so that when opportunities present themselves, I can make the informed decision to pursue them. As a Career Development Practitioner, I know that what I’m describing is the career theory called ‘Planned Happenstance’. Making the most of those serendipitous moments when they come along.

What’s Next in splash’s background

I have my plan below to work towards.

Going to take it easy and be kind to myself, but it is time to start getting my head back into (with lots of naps and self-care on the way):

🎯 Working my way towards my International Advanced Resume Writer certification and then specialist military transition + specialist mid career /older worker career pivot resume writer certifications

🎯 German language studies working towards sitting the Goethe exams

🎯 Fingers crossed to be selected as a volunteer for Invictus Games next year being held in Düsseldorf 🤞

Still flippen tired and recovering from Rona, but as a start, I can start by mapping out a plan so I don’t burn myself out

💯 I can do this, after all . . .

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