I come from Bergamo. Both me and my husband were born there, grew up there and spent most of our lives in the beautiful city 30 miles east from Milan, facing in these days the Coronavirus war. Yes, it is a war.
Our families and friends are fighting every day against desperation, fear and the unimaginable pain of having a beloved one in the hospital dying alone. Can you picture yourself in the situation of being locked down in your house with your father, your son, your husband or your brother in the ECU, no contacts with him, a few phone calls from the doctors (which are the real heroes of this war), facing the real, true possibility you will never see him again, imagining him scared, dying slowly, alone. Me and my husband obsessively watch the news everyday, reach out to our families and friends trying to comfort who is going through this hell, but what can you say? Our days start with weep and end with worries, praying not to be waked up by other tragic news in the night.
It’s easy to understand that in front of this dramatic situation your life undergoes to an inevitable reset of values. Suddenly everything changes in your priorities. The world stops, pauses for a long while, and for once you have the only thing you were always wining to miss: time.
So here is my values reset at the time of Coronavirus and world’s pandemic emergencies.
Your family, the ones you love, distances that no social media can fill
I am an immigrant in the U.S. In one week I will have my citizenship interview to become American, after five years of opportunities, sweat, tears and satisfactions in this country. But my heart, my soul is and always will be Italian. Living 9000 miles away from your family is not easy in general. Until everything is fine you don’t consider that one day you can wake up with the tragic news that your Grandma just passed away and you won’t have the chance to say goodbye, you can’t find a flight to go back home, you are simply too far away.
Being too far away. Skype can help, Facetime is surely a good thing, but none of these can ever make it up for holding your mom crying. Ever. Staying close to your family and friends in these days becomes your new everyday goal. Was it one month ago?
Do your career goals define you?
I was in the middle of preparing the launch of my first book. On March 19th 2020 me, Laura Donadoni, would have become a published author in Italy. I worked for months to the presentation, to the numerous events scheduled in the spring to promote my book, to the social media campaigns and so on… I was excited, over the moon, I felt the hype of reaching a big career goal. And then what? The virus came. The fear, the lockdown, the deaths, in your hometown and now globally. My book launch has been cancelled.
The business world is forced to slow down. For the first time in your career life you don’t wake up in the morning with a thousand emails, phone calls, texts to answer to. The world is pausing. And so you do. You suddenly fell how it is being you without your job. Even a job you are so passionate about, as I am about mine. You don’t have it anymore, you don’t know for how long, but you are, all of a sudden, just yourself. Not a profession. Not what you do. You can just be.
What is like having time, the fear of empty
No urgent work to do, nothing to prepare, because the world is pausing. Do you rememberer one month ago when you were complaining you didn’t have enough time, enough hours in a single day? Now you do. And you are terrified. You feel empty, useless, meaning less. You are scared about losing your job or everything you have built in years of hard work. Well, it’s time to reset. It’s time to understand what you are really good at and reframe your future, starting from what you really can do better and what you really like to do. The economy will bounce back from the worst crisi of the century, and you can prepare. God bless we have time now.
What does really make you happy?
The purpose of a reset is to jump in a better state than the previous one. I am using this time to work on myself: do I really like what I do? What is exactly making me happy about my job and my life? What do I miss the most? Is it my country? Is it my family? I feel I make a difference with my job or I am just living in a work routing that is meaning less and routinely?
I like to think that happiness is not a goal, is not a state to acheive, is a state of mind, is an attitude. And, as absurd as it may sound, you can be happy even in the middle of a dark, blue day, if you can see the positive side of what is happening.
There is no positive in hell, there is no positive in what my city, my people, are facing in these weeks, but there is a lesson we can take away to be a seed of happiness in the immediate future. Learning to be resilient, to change our shape, to adapt, to live with what we have in the moment. The symbol of this resilience? My fellow Italians singing and dancing on the balconies, trying to cheer up each others, bringing art, music, a smile to the neighbour from the windows. And this brings me to the last point of my values reset.
Social life, social media, curiosity over boredom
We Italians are social animals, we like to hang out, to dine together, to have an aperitivo together, for us food and wine are social means. The Coronavirus has taken away even this Italian soul: everybody must stay home, no gatherings, no meetings, not even a caffe’ al bar. They are confined in four walls and they can’t share. It’s a pain. But it’s a sacrifice everybody is doing for our country. To make this a #sweetquarantine (the hashtag is ramping on Instagram) we have social media. Live seminars, live wine tasting, flash mobs singing the national anthem from the balconies (I had the goose bumps and I cried seeing how tragedies can bring us together as a country), free ebooks, free webinars, free cooking courses and so on.
Social life has been temporary replaced by social media which are regaining the role they were meant to have in the very beginning: connect people, not just vehicle advertisements. I am amazed how many Italian influencers are using social media in these days to raise awareness, to collect money for our hospitals in need and to offer for free their competences and skills (in case of doctors, experts, scientists, wine educators, chefs and so on) to keep company, to make this global quarantine a learning opportunity. On the other side there is still a good number of “influencers” who are still trying to sell you something you don’t need. In that case you know what to do, it’s time to purge and unfollow the insensitive ones.
What can make a change in the way you face a forced quarantine is to choose curiosity over boredom. Take this time at home as an opportunity to learn something, to read that book your friend gave to you, to reach out to new people around the world.
Curiosity is the way to evolution. And the world, after this huge, dramatic purge, needs to evolve.