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They will learn about how viruses spread, they will learn about social distance and how we tried to prevent the virus from spreading, they will learn about how many people died.
Maybe they will learn about countries that came out of the pandemic faster than others, maybe they will learn about greater worldwide scientific collaboration and the development of vaccines, maybe they will learn about food rationing and the collapse of global food chains, maybe they will learn about how a world pulled together and came out of economic turmoil.
What my grandchildren won’t learn about is the rollercoaster of emotions that comes with being in the middle of a pandemic. They won’t understand that in order to mentally survive, sometimes you have to tune the world out, turn the news off and turn the music up.
They won’t understand that even though we are all sharing lockdown, each of us will have our own personal experiences of the pandemic.
I have had some conversations in the past few weeks that will always stay with me and will form the scaffold of my pandemic memories. These include conversations with family in the UK working in the "frontline", conversations with joyful and nervous expectant parents, conversations with business leaders who have had to make cherished staff redundant and conversations with people who have been made redundant, conversations with brave people in India, where even thinking about the impact of Covid-19 in such a densely populated country overwhelms me.
My own teenage children have their own experiences and conversations, which look markedly different to mine despite sharing a "bubble". Interestingly, I am often being asked, "when do you think we will be actually back at school — in the classroom?"
This question is a stark reminder of just how unusual this situation is.
There is a lot of incredibly good advice out there as to how we get through this and I have been lucky enough to receive some advice from some very sensible people during this time. I will share some of that advice, mixed with my own thoughts — with the caveat that I am learning myself and I am sharing with honesty here, rather than coming from a position of always getting it right.
1 Recognise the pressure you are under and take micropauses. A business leader shared this with me and I have found it incredibly useful. Instead of rushing from one Zoom meeting to another, I am actively trying to walk outside on my deck and "have a moment". This is helping me to calm my mind and be proactive instead of reactive.
2 If you are in business and are faced with making some really big decisions, then do so — face up to them by getting a pen and paper out and capture where you are at and what you need to do to survive. A plan, even, if it gets ripped up in a week’s time, at least gives you a path out of the overwhelm. This plan is also a great platform for taking to supporters and advisers who can more objectively help you to assess the situation. The plan also gives you the confidence to rationally make a big call if you need to.
3 Take some satisfaction in the small things you are achieving. Friends of mine are posting their crafts and cooking on social media. It’s lovely to celebrate what are seemingly small moments. It may be that for your work, you finished a report which you wouldn’t normally celebrate, or it may mean that you had 10 beautiful minutes with your children when you weren’t wound up!
4 Remind yourself that fundamentals don’t change despite a crisis; remind yourself of why you started your business, the purpose of your work, the love you have for your family. Share that with those around you. For me, "making a difference to food and agriculture" still drives me at work; my work colleagues, friends and family around the world will always be important and my immediate family are my everything — Covid-19 doesn’t change that.
It’s Easter Monday for me and I am off to my happy place now, cooking in my kitchen while blasting the Dixie Chicks — no wonder my teenagers want to get back to school.
- Anna Campbell is managing director of AbacusBio Ltd, a Dunedin-based agri-technology company.