When you look back on your life during COVID-19, what will you appreciate about yourself?

Ten years from now, if someone asked, “What were you like during the COVID pandemic? ”, what would you say?

Connecting with colleagues for answers

At CorStone, we’ve started conducting virtual support groups for our staff during COVID-19. It’s actually been an amazing way to get to know my colleagues better. Many of us have worked together for years, but because CorStone’s work is global, we’re a distributed team.

Even if we have a moment to check in with one another about how things are going, it’s pretty rare that I get to talk with my colleagues for an extended period of time about what really matters to them, how they approach life and how they’re really doing.

Learning what you appreciate about yourself | CorStone
The view from my seat while connecting with our virtual support group | CorStone

Time for reflection

Recently, my support group started with the question: “What were you like in high school, and what would you tell your younger self if you could?

Before I go on, take a moment to think about what your response would be. Think of yourself in high school, what you were like, and what you would tell your younger self if you could. What comes to mind?

If you’re anything like me, you probably thought something like: “Ok, what advice would I give myself to help me do things better, or to stop me from doing something I wish I hadn’t done?” But before I could share my response, another colleague in my group shared first.

Rather than give herself advice about what she could have done better, she was full of joy and appreciation for her younger self.

She talked about how she had made some of her very best friends in high school, how they loved to play funny pranks on the boys, and how she had dedicated herself to sports and music in a way that gave her great joy.

Her gratitude for who she was at that time, and for the strengths she brought to that time of her life and that she had used to become the person she is today, was palpable.

The strengths we used then are the keys to who we are now

Her answer changed the mood of the session. Although each person still shared something they wish they had known in high school (for me, it was “you don’t have to be so serious about everything” 😉 ), each also shared an appreciation that they wanted to give their younger self.

Here are a few of the things we told our younger selves:

  • | I’m so proud of you for making deep and loving friendships.
  • | It’s so important that you have such an openness to new ideas.
  • | I’m so grateful that you’re embracing a zest for learning.
  • | I’m blown away by how you’re ready to tackle any challenge.

We also told our younger selves that, although we didn’t know this at the time, these qualities would take them far, help them grow, and enable them to become the people we are today.

We told them that the things that seemed so challenging, and the strengths that we built in response to these challenges, have become integral pieces of who we are and what we’re capable of today, so many years later.

Tapping into our strengths during COVID-19

Later that day, I took a drive to get a break from being at home during the quarantine. I drove down mostly-deserted streets, seeing signs like “Church service on Facebook at 10 am,” or “Honk for the graduate;” I saw people out mowing their lawns in the middle of the day and people walking with their families, masks on.

Character strengths your appreciate about yourself | CorSton
A mural depicting character strengths CorStone’s programs help youth recognize and use | Girls First, Bihar India

I was reminded at every turn of our current COVID-19 reality. Yet, rather than being flattened with grief and sadness (let’s be honest, that has happened for me recently more than once), I thought about my experience with my support group.

I thought about how every single person, without fail, has strengths we are using every day to get through this global crisis.

I thought about how we are all using love, creativity, flexibility, humor, passion, persistence—whatever strengths we find inside ourselves and that we support in others—and that we are all doing our best.

We are not “doing our best” in the sense that we are just muddling through, though at times it may feel that way. Instead, we are finding and using our best strengths, and by doing this, we are building better selves.

And even if we don’t know it yet, these strengths that we build today will help us to grow, change, and become the people we will be tomorrow, and the next day, and for many years to come.

10 years after the COVID-19 #pandemic has passed, what will you appreciate about yourself? Click To Tweet

Gratitude for the strengths we’re using right now

So in 10 years, if someone were to ask you the question, “What were you like during the COVID-19 pandemic? What would you tell your younger self if you could?” What do you think you would you say?

I challenge you to try that exercise and leave a comment to let us know how it goes. Imagine yourself 10 years in the future. What would you say about what you were like during this pandemic? What would that older self, tell your younger self, right now?

In addition to the lessons learned or the things we wish we hadn’t done or said, I know that older self will appreciate the things we are doing, thinking, saying, or finding within ourselves right now, because these are the things that will help us all become who we are becoming, many more years down the line.

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Featured Photo | Laura Kudritzki

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