A helpful strategy to persevering through a difficult season in life is to lower your expectations, to just survive. Most of us have leaned on this strategy at one point or another, including myself. It is as if you are granting yourself permission to drop some of the less-important balls that you may be juggling in life, knowing that you can pick them back up when things start to ease.
A frequently used example is a college student during final exams week. During that week, the focus is preparation for the exams. Healthy eating, fitness, social activities, laundry, and other necessities likely are not getting any attention during that time. And that’s okay, because the student knows it is a short period and they will soon be able to catch up on daily routines and fun times after the exams are over. They just need to get through, to survive, the exams.
I know many of us have utilized this strategy and lowered our expectations during the pandemic. If you expect less, you have less that can possibly let you down. Many times in recent months when I’ve chatted with friends and colleagues and we try to recollect when something happened in the past 18 months, it is difficult to assign a date. Everything seems like a blur. Many of our days seemed the same, and we just tried to put one foot in front of the other.
But, as the pandemic persists, I’ve realized this may no longer be the right mindset. This strategy is best employed for short-term, finite periods of life. As the pandemic continues to last well over a year, continuing to lean on the bare minimum to get ourselves through risks us missing out on life. We will only be this age once; our children will only be at these ages and stages now. Having more than the past year become a blur will not be the memories we want to treasure. We cannot predict how much longer this virus will impact our lives, but we can try to make the best of it.
I sit here writing this as my sons and I visit my parents before school starts. The seven-year-old just put on his rubber boots and is headed to put out some hay, check on the kittens, and play in the mud with his Poppa. Our plans may need to be written in pencil, but we are remembering to make the memories, even the messy ones.
Erin Massey is the product development manager at Prairie Farms, a farmer-owned cooperative based in Edwardsville, Illinois. She is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the development process, from concept to commercialization. Erin grew up on a Florida dairy farm and has a deep-rooted passion to invigorate the dairy industry. Erin earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of South Florida. Her personal mantra is "Be Bold."