Fourteen hundred days ago when I packed up my desk I thought it was for two weeks, a month at the most and I’m sure I’m not alone in this. I wasn’t prepared for the monotony of computer screens and the blurred lines between work and personal time; but most of all I wasn’t prepared for how the next few months would impact me on a deeper level. I like to reflect back on moments and periods in my life that reshaped me in some way and I think that 2020 will be one for the books, or at least May 2020 will be.
The first month, or even 6 weeks of quarantine were nerve-wracking, but still sort of fun or exciting. I played games, finished puzzles, baked like there was no tomorrow and attended too many zoom happy hours, but as the time dragged on burnout and new challenges came with it. During this time I struggled with staying focused or feeling productive, but also with meaning making. I’m a proud enneagram type 3 and Slytherin, which in two words makes me ambitious and adaptable, but the “new normal” really challenged me and increased the guilt I was feeling when I wasn’t able to achieve as much as I had previously. I needed to take a step back and reflect on what I was actually enjoying about my day and how I could make sure this wasn’t a “blank space” in my life. I began searching for new hobbies, continued to bake a lot, cooked almost everyday, and reconnected with some of my closest friends and family members.
When I was forced to limit my interactions with, well everyone, my neighbors and neighborhood became increasingly important to me. I’ve always felt connected to my neighborhood, but I also realized that as I was changing my neighborhood was as well. Covid-19 prompted togetherness and had people adding notes to their windows and sidewalks, masks to their yard sculptures and teddy bears in the windows for kid scavenger hunts. After May 25 the art changed and the neighborhood became covered in Black Lives Matter art and protest signs. Essentially, I saw the changes I was going through myself reflected in my neighborhood’s identity and I knew that it wasn’t just myself changing, but others as well. I didn’t want this time to pass as a “blank space” either, I knew for me that this would be a pivotal moment, a reshaping one.
As a former teacher I lived this day to day and was constantly reflecting on being an anti-racist, but since I left the classroom I haven’t had as many conversations or actively contributed to the work with the same frequency. I’ve thought about the actions I’ve taken in the past and what I’ve done this year. In the museum we talk about the different ways people can participate in change and I threw myself into all of them. I was giving, protesting, informing and lobbying. I’m thinking of other ways I can contribute, but also how I can continue doing what I’m already doing. I don’t want this to just be a moment, I want this to be a time that reshapes my identity for the better. I invite you to join me in participating in the way that makes the most sense for you whether this means protesting, giving, volunteering, or lobbying.