A Post-Pandemic Identity Crisis Ushers in a New Me

I was chatting with a good friend the other day about how much I feel I’ve changed since the pandemic. I’ve realized how many of my previous life decisions were dictated by FOMO (fear of missing out). Now, I’m making my decisions by taking a moment to lean in and decide whether my energy is calling me toward stillness or action. And prior to the pandemic, I did everything I could to avoid being bored, but I now realize many of those things did not bring me joy, they just provided distraction. Before 2020, I was either working or thinking about work. Now there are times when my nonstop mind is almost quiet.

Some of my friends seem a little unnerved by my recent attitude and behavior. I don’t seem like “myself” to them. To be honest, this new me sometimes concerns me, too. I worry she’s not the “real me.” I worry she isn’t as fun or creative or motivated. And then I wonder where I ever got the idea that in order to be “successful” I had to be constantly fun and creative and motivated.

I’ve noticed that when people haven’t seen you in a long time, they say, “You’re so busy. Things must be going well,” as if being busy is the definition of success in our society. I don’t straighten them out, though, because they mean well. The truth is, I’m not as busy as I used to be, and I like it that way.

I was voicing these thoughts to my friend and she offered up this analogy: “It’s like when you change your diet in order to feel better. People say, ‘How can you stand to give that up? You love that food. Don’t you miss it?’ It’s hard to explain that those items don’t even look good to you anymore.”

Yes, I said. That’s exactly it! Maybe I just need to give myself permission to accept this new me, because in so many ways it does feel better. I need to stop worrying that something “broke” inside of me during the pandemic and embrace that something grew in me instead.

There’s a new type of creativity brewing, I can feel it. There’s a new definition of fun forming. Motivation awaits as soon as I stop trying to go back to the old ways and embrace the changes inside and outside of me. So many of us are “adjusting our diets” right now, and that’s good. We were eating too much junk food anyway.

So, this is my truth today. And as any good historian knows, the truth is ever changing. I’m lying fallow now, but several months from now, I may be sprouting all kinds of new projects and ideas. It will be interesting to see how future me approaches and develops them. After all, we are not one version of ourselves. The pandemic taught me that. And today’s “new me” might be tomorrow’s “old me,” and that’s okay too. As the song says, “You gotta roll with it, baby.”

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