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Chime In: Who Will We Be Once the Pandemic Is Over?

Though we’re ready for a new “normal”, there’s no doubt the world has changed during the pandemic. Members chime in on how they've changed with it.

yellow sun with rays peeking from behind a cloud illustrated

Susan Shain • May 6, 2021

It’s 2021 and, with the COVID-19 vaccine becoming more widespread, signs of hope are starting to show up across the country. 🙏

But, to be honest? We want to talk about the elephant in the room: Even though we’re ready for “normal” (whatever “normal” means) there’s no doubt the world has changed, and we’ve changed with it — in many, many ways. 

How, exactly, have we changed? To break it down, we asked our members to chime in. Their answers might surprise you, or move you — but they’ll definitely inspire you!

Seize the Day

One of the hardest lessons 2020 taught us was that truly anything can happen. So it’s no surprise that the biggest theme we heard from our members was to cherish each moment as it comes. Why? Simple: It’s impossible to predict what’s going to happen today, tomorrow, or two years from now. 

“You never know what’s around the corner,” said Chris, a 44-year-old Floridian who builds and sells office furniture. In life after the pandemic, he said he’ll try not to take things for granted; instead, he’ll “be more grateful and more appreciative of each other and everything we have.”

Faye, a 53-year-old executive assistant from Texas, had a similar take. Pre-pandemic, it was easy to put things off — whether it was a dream vacation or a visit with grandma. But now, Faye said,

“You live life as it is, because tomorrow is not promised.”

If there’s something Faye wants to do or learn, she does it – no more waiting around!   

This reminder to seize the day is just one example of how you could turn the trauma of the past year into a force for change. After all, there’s no better time than the present to reflect on who you want to be.

Appreciate Life

Before the lockdown, some viewed family time as a chore. But, now that they’ve been separated from their families for over a year, many of our members plan to treat future family bonding as a blessing.

No one knows this better than Sydney, 26, who lives in Missouri and works in media production. When international borders closed, she found herself separated from her Canadian fiancé for a whole year. 

“Being reunited with him was the best feeling ever,” she said. “We got married during the pandemic, barefoot in a living room while our families had to watch on Facebook Live. But all that mattered in that moment was that we were together.

“The pandemic made me appreciate life and appreciate spending time with people more.”

Other members shared this same sentiment: that the pandemic helped them see their families in a new light. Whereas they might have groaned about get-togethers before, now they can’t wait to reunite – for everything from backyard BBQs to indoor (!) holiday celebrations. Something we can all look forward to.

Slow Down

Over the past year, we all experienced the feeling of a smaller world. The possibilities went from endless to end-of-the-hallway and everyone — even our essential workers — experienced shuttered restaurants, canceled concerts, and reunions over Zoom.

Still, many of our Chime members managed to find fulfillment in what remained.

“The pandemic taught me how to find meaning in even the smallest things,” Sydney said. “You can find meaning in literally anything — you just have to look.”

Sydney found delight in some unexpected places – she caught up on her reading list, spent time with herself, and took those long walks we’re all oh-so-familiar with. She’s not the only one: Social media was a window into tons of new hobbies – from new fitness routines to pro chef vibes. (Plus baking yummy goodies!)

But even if you didn’t adopt a pandemic hobby — for many of us, merely getting through each day was enough of a challenge — you still may have found meaning somewhere new. Maybe it was your dog’s happy dance or the gorgeous tree on your street corner. Whatever it was, there can be peace in holding onto those moments, even after we’re busy again.

Be Grateful

For Chris, one surprise of the pandemic was how much closer he became with his friends. As he put it:

“We all kind of bound together a lot tighter.” Looking to the future, Chris said he’s “realized the importance of staying connected.”

The same could be said of so many of us: We realized how much we needed our friends, and how crucial it was to keep in touch through texts and video calls even when we were physically apart. 

It’s not just friends, either: In the years to come, Chris is going to maintain better connections with family, too. Since losing his mother in February, he’s gone from speaking to his father a few times a month to calling him every single night. “I feel like that is very important,” Chris said. “It’s a shame it took [my mom’s passing] to make me realize, but I guess it just takes what it takes.”

Once widespread vaccination has been reached, our members don’t plan on slowing down their newfound communication. They simply plan on adding to their virtual chats with fun, in-person meetups. Chris, for one, is really looking forward to both a fishing trip with his friends and a Caribbean vacation with his wife.

Embrace Stillness

For those not working in healthcare or other essential roles, the pace of life slowed way down during the pandemic. There were fewer people to see, fewer things to do, fewer places to be. For some of us, this was a unique opportunity to find joy in the stillness.; a peace our members mentioned bringing with them into the After Times. 

Faye, for example, said she learned that “being alone doesn’t really bother me.” During the pandemic, she was able to prioritize her self-growth: learning to braid her own hair, studying the Bible, and read two non-fiction books each month. Though she’ll see her family more once the pandemic’s over, she plans to continue enjoying her solitude, too.

Chris has also reveled in taking things a bit slower. Pre-pandemic, he and his friends would meet for a quick dinner and then head home; now they give themselves the gift of time. “We go to the parks and use more of nature and just enjoy the day,” he said.

“We’ve stopped being in such a rush, in a hurry to go nowhere, and instead enjoy the little moments we have together.”

All in all, it’s not a crime to admit you enjoyed some aspects of lockdown culture. And if there are parts of yourself, or of your experience, that you want to retain after the pandemic ends — whether it’s an annual staycation or a weekend each month when you “shelter in place” — don’t be afraid to do you!

Love Yourself

There were times over the past year when many of us felt like we couldn’t do it: one more Zoom call or one more mask or one more day without a hug. But the fact is, we did handle it, and that alone showed many Chime members just how strong they really are. 

And that’s something they won’t soon forget. When Faye lost her job due to Covid-19, she turned to her faith, and soon found a new position with a Fortune 100 company. That experience resulted in a mantra she’ll carry with her for the rest of her days.

“My motto is not to live by fear, but by faith,” she said. “As long as I have faith, I can move forward.”

Sydney, on the other hand, gained faith in herself.  “I learned to love myself and where I’m at,” she said.

“I learned how strong I was: If I could overcome being separated from my husband for over a year and doing the single mom life alone, then I could handle anything.” 

Though she doesn’t foresee any drastic differences between her pre-and post-pandemic lives, Sydney said she’ll always hold onto the feeling of strength she gained in 2020. And when times are tough in the future, she said she’ll remember the following: “You just have to stay positive, push forward, and keep on swimming.”

Looking to the After Times

From speaking to our members, it’s clear that we’ll never forget the things we lost during the pandemic: the people, the time, or the opportunities. But it’s also clear that we’ll never forget the lessons we learned together, either. 

From appreciating every moment and all our loved ones, to slowing down and savoring the small things, our members seem to share a single hope: that we’ll be able to carry these lessons forward — helping us all to live lives that are more connected, more thankful, and more generous than ever before. 💚

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