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Pandemic Reflection: Victoria

What were the first few weeks of the Pandemic like for you?

Hectic, busy, a blur quite honestly. I find it really hard to remember February-May 2020. I know events that happened, but everything evolved so quickly and we had to react hourly sometimes. We went home from work but we didn’t shut off. Covid-19 was all I thought of, all the time. I wasn’t scared for myself as much as I was scared for the clients. Every time my phone buzzed, I readied myself for the reality that this was the call, this was the positive we were all dreading.

I was one of the few people in the office who never really stopped coming into the office and for that, I was very thankful. My mental health probably would’ve been much different if I wasn’t able to do so. The drive to and from the office was my time to relax. My bubble was the office. I didn’t see my friends in the spring at all.

What was the summer like?

The summer was better! I was able to widen my bubble and see my friends which made me happy! I got to get out into the sun and take some time off. I changed job titles, taking my focus off the pandemic, which was a blessing. I turned a quarter century and got to celebrate with my closest pals relaxing in nature. It wasn’t how I imagined, but I was very grateful to be around those I loved in the sun and water.

What does your new routine look like?

I make my bed everyday, and have a strict bedtime routine that has me going to bed at the time of a toddler pretty much. During the week I am so boring and pretty much get home, make my dinner, watch a show, and go to bed. I have become a very regulated person with my routine. I really enjoy tracking my sleep and when I see a little difference I meticulously try to figure out what made the difference because there’s not many variables in my days.

How would you describe how you’re feeling now?

Now, I think I’m feeling what a lot of people are: Covid fatigue. We’re approaching a year since the first precautions were put into place. It’s starting to just feel kind of normal but I also miss how it used to be. I’m curious to see what will come back and what won’t come back post-pandemic. What will never be the same? I just want to be able to congregate with my friends again. We’ll get there!

What’s been the hardest for you?

Not touching people as much, not being around people as much, and not seeing the clients. I am a huge tactile person and I love hugs! I also really feed off of people’s energies and while Webex and Zoom are a great alternative I really thrive off of being in the same room as people. Finally, the clients are the reason I am here and that is no surprise to anyone in this organization. I miss spending time with my pals so much, they feed my soul. Once I am able to spend some quality time with my friends again, I’ll be on tour!

We believe that we are all in leadership positions here at Arcus, what qualities do you think have been most important in leading at this time?

I think when you’re in a leadership position you need to be a person people can trust in a storm. We have been going through a sustained storm for nearly a year. We have to be able to prioritize and not get lost in the panic. Too many people get caught up in the feelings instead of looking at what you can functionally do. I think it’s important for a leader to set the mood for everyone else to follow. I think it’s important to take a breath, smile, and think of something you’re grateful for. I started doing that in meetings I was chairing in the height of the pandemic and it was a nice shift of energy for the meeting – as it is in everyday life.

How have you been taking care of yourself?

I go to regular therapy which has definitely helped through this turbulent time. I’ve learnt to build boundaries for myself in both my work and personal life. Remembering “it is what it is” and “everything is temporary” has been my mantras to keep me going through this past times as well. I am also a bit of a plant hoarder and have about 50 house plants so taking care of my plant babies are a form of my self-care.

We get by with a little help from our friends...who would you credit as helping you through this time?

I have a really tight pack of friends that have my back. I don’t know where I would be without them and they definitely helped me through this pandemic. I was able to break down with them when I was hurting, and they were there to pick me up. They were there to cheer me on through the (sometime minuscule) victories. I am so blessed to have found a really great group of friends that have stayed by my side even when we had to be distanced.

Do you have any life experiences that have helped you get through this time?

I have survived through anxiety a lot of my life, so I have a lot of coping skills under my belt. I think I was able to take a step back and be level-headed most of the time through the highs of the pandemic. The world isn’t ending (as much as it felt like it.) This pandemic is a roadblock and we just have to find a new way around it. It just keeps us evolving.

Any silver linings? Small graces? New hobbies?

I think I am much more able to see the small blessings and I am way quicker to see the good in people than the bad. A silver lining was definitely being able to go around with the Easter bunny and Santa in 2020 to bring a little joy to the clients – I wouldn’t have given that up for the world! I dyed my hair blue! I bought a new car. I got into drag shows and made friends with a couple performers. This year gave me time to slow down and do some internal work and learn about myself some more. I think that was definitely a silver lining. Most people are go go go all the time and don’t have time to slow down and really think about what they want out of life. Now that we haven’t be able to socialize as much, I have had the time to sit down and really examine that. I think everyone should take some time to do that, when they’re able to.

What are you looking forward to the most?

Parties, hugs, handshakes, smiling at strangers, hanging out with people, concerts, drag shows, cooking for people, and laughing till I cry with my friends again.

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