It is currently day 38 of self-isolation / quarantine life for me, here in Australia. Collectively across the country, we have started to flatten the curve and mentally we are adjusting to a new normal of doing everything around the house.
Yesterday, I read an article talking about survey results of the average Australian during COVID-19. It noted, very broadly, that many of us may continue some of the lifestyle habits formed during this pandemic even when we have reached ‘the other side’. This includes more frequent hand-washing and sanitising the home, having a stockpile of essential items at home and spending less money.
Whether we like it or not, the pandemic has definitely changed the way we think and live our lives, and when normality is restored, that normality will be different to the one we had originally envisioned. This led me to think – does a pandemic stop us from living a life of fantasy and pursuing far-reaching goals? In effect, does it stop us from chasing our dreams?
I pose this question because I am part of the dream-chasing generation. A millennial who grew up believing that I can have anything that I want in life, as long as I am willing to pursue it and work for it. An obstacle, such as a pandemic that originated from the other side of the world, would have never crossed my mind as something that would hinder my ability to chase my dreams. But now, it feels that things will be different.
I will use one of my own dreams as an example to illustrate this difference, and that dream is to be a side-hustle entrepreneur. When I use to think about the possibilities of starting a new side-hustle business, the obstacles I foresaw were things like “which platform should I tap into in order to best reach my target market? Is my market saturated, and is what I want to do enough to stand out from the competition? How much money do I need to start this business and can I do this on the side of my job? What about my career progressions, can I have a side-hustle whilst going for promotion in my job at the same time? Will I have enough time for everything when I also want to start a family in the near future??”
Now with COVID-19, my projected obstacles are more akin to this: “how secure is my job in the foreseeable future and post-pandemic? Can I sustain the lifestyle I have been living? Can I still start a business when there is mass unemployment, and people are not in the mood to buy anything other than the basics and the essential? Should I pause any plans until the world has gotten a handle of how we are all going to collectively move forward? How will I and my loved ones move on from this? What are our lives going to look like post-pandemic? What can I do differently today to enable a somewhat smooth transition out of all this?”
Even from this simple example, I can see that my thought pattern has changed. My questions are more grounded, and my thought process is more about job security and stability in life. I can hear the optimists saying “this will pass, it is just another hurdle that we are navigating in life”, but there is just that small part of me that wants to hold back and think “let’s just pause, and wait and see. Maybe this or that will no longer be possible”.
I am not entirely happy about these thoughts, in fact it feels strangely adult to be so practical about wanting to pursue my goals. But maybe this is how my parents or my grandparents (who grew up in poverty) felt when they were younger – that chasing a dream is not something that can be readily realised, and that many factors beyond your own control will influence your ability to chase your dreams. This is a sobering realisation, for a millennial like me. It feels incredibly strange.
Anyhow, I don’t think the pandemic will fully stop us chasing our dreams, but will our dreams look different after the pandemic? Absolutely. As much as we want to go back to the “normal” that we once had before the pandemic, the reality is we are forever changed, collectively, by this experience. Like the many Australians who will carry-forward some of the habits that we formed during this pandemic, our dreams and the steps we take in pursuit of those dreams, will also be changed.
Who knows, maybe this change will be for the better. Maybe we will take more time to map out our plans, and think through the impact of our actions on our own lives as well as on Mother Earth. Maybe we will be more patient, and prepare more back up plans for when things unexpectedly change due to factors beyond our own control. We will wait and see, and in the meantime, I will keep thinking about how to chase my dreams, post-Pandemic.