Usually, I choose a word of the year. It’s a new year’s resolution without the laundry list of tasks. A theme.
This year of covid, my word was Connect — which now feels ironic since we spent the year holed up in tiny offices peering at 13 inch flickering rectangles.
Somehow it worked though. And strangely, between Zoom and mini-blogs, I was brought a little closer to strangers — out of my private, turtle-shell.
I’ve worked from home for ten years — on the other end of conference calls. Hidden.
Zoom and covid unceremoniously crashed my introverted world.
For the first month, I felt invaded and irritated. While everyone else was lonely away from officemates, I found myself in an energy-sucking whirlwind of faces, outreach, and crowded meeting rooms.
After ten years of hiding on conference calls, I was, in an instant, required to “show up” to meetings. In person. On Zoom. With the video on.
It took me a good five months to focus without getting distracted and get used to the discomfort of staring at faces on screens without the ability to look away and keep my mind and hands busy with doodling, taking notes or playing online-bridges and bejeweled. I longed for calls where I could keep the video off.
After four months, I stepped out, created a paid account, and sent my first Zoom invite — something which at the beginning of the year, I swore I’d never do.
Ultimately, I’ve embraced video conferences. An hour to “connect” with a new (or old) friend is nice.
As for my 365 daily mini-blogs, they have become less stressful. While at the beginning of the year, they consumed most of my days with worry, dread, rerunning words in my head, wondering how they landed and planning the next — now I rarely spend more than 15–30 minutes writing or rethinking. I could apply more effort, and maybe they’d be “better”, but that was never the point. The underlying goal was to be less scared, less hidden. In that, I’ve succeeded.
So maybe this strange year has allowed me to “connect” after all. To be vulnerable, to surrender, to allow discomfort, to show weakness, to make mistakes, to offer up imperfect words, to show up.