Best Health recently posted an article from Dr. Seema Marwaha entitled, “This Pandemic Anniversary Is Nothing Like Last Year.”
The executive summary is that, despite declining numbers of cases and milder variants, “There is no going back to the way things were…but there is reason to hope, even if that feels hard right now.”
The piece notes the enormous toll and relentless sacrifices of the Healthcare community (it is a Best Health article after all). We should never forget these selfless front-line workers and do whatever we can to ensure the appropriate funding and supports to show our gratitude.
Regaining trust in the future
But the other part that resonated with me, and for those of us in the business of helping build trust, is the question of how we can we get back to trusting in the future? Dr. Marwaha writes, “It’s hard to envision what the future looks like when it’s not clear if and how the pandemic will end.”
Our “reputation and public relations” training tells us that trust is gained through consistency in words and actions. Follow-through matters and is reassuring. With COVID-19, the only thing that was consistent was inconsistency.
As we mark the second anniversary of the first lockdown and head into year three, mandates are dropping and indoor dining, workplaces and gyms are opening. Big events are being scheduled and we are traveling again. We want to be hopeful that these things will continue, undeterred. We are tired and impatient and want to get back to something resembling the way things were. But we do not yet trust that we can.
The most important thing our professional training tells us is that trust has to be earned. No matter how restless and exhausted we are, there is no shortcut. Other pandemics have ended and become something less frightening and more manageable. This will happen and we can be hopeful for that over time.
Where do we go from here?
In the short term, Dr. Marwaha recommends that, “the best we can do is find joy and meaning in our new reality.”
To this end, I am optimistic this year will be better. I plan to continue to be careful while I look forward to spring with its warmer temperatures and livelier social calendar. I am making plans to see friends I haven’t seen in months – or years – and am excited to meet for after work cocktails (or wine cart!) with my colleagues and clients.
We may not be able to go back to the way things were, but this is how I envision the future. I want to trust that my optimism will be rewarded, but only time will tell. And I am ok with that now. I will be patient and I will be hopeful.
I believe that because of all we have learned, we are more resilient. We are also incredibly fortunate for the healthcare workers and many others who did their best to keep us safe – and of the collective and mutual support of friends, family and colleagues. When things got really bad, we actually were all “in it together” and that was reassuring.
I trust that will never change.