Firstly, I want to make it clear that I am in no way saying that the pandemic has been a positive in my life! For many people it has been the very worst of times and many have lost loved ones- truly awful for many. My mental health suffered at various times during the pandemic along with many and my panic attacks came back with a force after a period of about 15 years with very few if any. It was a minefield and we had to dig deep to get through it- however, amidst all the stress and loss there have been some positives that I have held on to in difficult times.
I have a reputation for trying to see the positives in situations and some of you will know that my twitter feed is full of positive quotes. People often ask me why I do this every day and the honest answer is that it helps ME stay positive, even when I am going through difficult times. The fact that it seems to help others is a bonus to me and an opportunity I am grateful to have.
The pandemic has hit us all hard and in the very beginning many of us were in a state of shock and disbelief. I for one in the very first days was struggling to find a way to keep motivated as a leader as we all were. I had literally joined twitter the week prior to lockdown and I honestly think it was one of the key things that helped to get me through. On my feed were all these people I had never even met saying they felt as worried as I was- we found a kind of unity and support in each other in those first few weeks.
For me there have been other positives that perhaps may not have come about had I not been leading through this pandemic. I got to know my staff better than ever before and found in them strengths and talents that had otherwise been hidden in many cases. We were apart for much of the time especially during the first lockdown but strangely it brought us closer as a team. It taught me to look at staff in different ways and not assume a person’s character just because they do not always show it- something I will always remember moving forward.
Another positive for me was the way we stuck together both as a staff team and also in the wider context of educators- we supported each other, we shared and we reached out to those needing help. I’m not sure we would have done this to the same degree had it not been for the pandemic.
I also think as a result of the pandemic I have become way more resilient both as a leader and as a person. Whatever life throws at me I have this inner voice telling me that if I got through a global pandemic then I can probable cope with it. There is a confidence you grow from having no clue what you are doing but supporting your staff and pupils anyway and doing it well!
I definitely think that I am more inclined to say ‘why not’ than ‘why’ these days- the pandemic brought about a massive shift in my thinking about life in general- it’s short so it is to be lived to the full- EVERYDAY- not just during the holidays. There is so much life out there to find and enjoy and I make a real effort now to do things that make me smile much more often! Writing this as we drive to the seaside to stay overnight in our pop up roof- knowing I will get little sleep but a lot of smiles from my daughter!
The biggest positive for me was reaffirming my relationships with my family and friends- they had always been important to me but I think I had taken them for granted so much before the pandemic- never again. They are my reason for being and the rock that keeps me grounded and whole.
I hope that as the years go by and the pandemic becomes an awful memory rather than an experience we are living, that I remember all of this. You have my permission to remind me if I need it!