• Christina Ketcham

Resilience in the Time of Coronavirus: Part 4

I’m going to admit something.

This isn’t my first time in some sort of social distancing situation.

I've been someone who tends to need a break from socializing every once in a while, travels solo and have on several occasions moved to a new place. Each of these situations have allowed me to feel like this new challenge isn't foreign territory. Today, I'm hoping that my experiences living in the Philadelphia area can give you a little guidance!

I moved to Philly for graduate school one summer and took online courses for the first two months. I didn’t know a single soul when I got there and other than casual conversations in coffee shops, I spent those first months alone.

It didn’t feel like a fit from the beginning. I tried to explore the different points of interest around the city, but it felt wrong. It felt like everything was dulled and I was craving bright and royal greens and blues. I was thoroughly unsettled.

When I think back on this, I realize that it felt like a threat to my identity and I was trying so hard to find something there that felt like it was “me.” I would search stores and yard sales for objects that could help me see myself in my environment, surprisingly, to very little avail. Finally, I came across a double-sided scarf at a garage sale. One side was a beautiful dark and shiny blue, the other a deep red. Finally, something that felt right!

I took it home and hand sewed it into two reversible pillow cases. This not only gave me the opportunity to bring myself into my environment, it also let me feel like I had some control and let me exercise my creative side. These pillows, as simple as they were, became as a reminder of a part of the identity that I needed to hold onto, and when I was in doubt, I could reference back to them.

Right now, many people, even possibly you, Reader, have similarly found themselves out of THEIR identity - feeling like they don’t know themselves in this new way.

Identity is a huge part of resilience, knowing yourself is one of the first steps in trusting your ability to navigate the world and each upcoming situation. Without it, we find ourselves fearful and insecure.

I see this time in our lives as a great chance to really get to know ourselves and really build into the person we want to be. However, instead of jumping in out of nowhere, my resilience practice today is to find something that can go on the journey with you.

In our society, our careers have become a big part of how we define ourselves – it gives us a benchmark or model of how we want to be and how we think we should act.

Even if your home is exactly to your liking, it may be difficult to find your productive-self there.

Maybe there’s something you keep on your desk at work or something from your past you identify with, like a name tag or a special mug – bring it home, put it on your workspace or somewhere so that it can help give you a base, a sense of structure.

Our minds often rely on memory of context in order to feel settled, much like how students often sit in the same area of a classroom day after day, even when not assigned.

Let the object stand as a reminder of yourself in the context you feel strong in, let it resource you as you grow into this new way of being.

What object will you choose? Feel free to share and let us know why!

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