There is no doubt that COVID-19 has taken much from us, many lives, many liberties and many experiences. But I believe we have gained valuable life lessons as well. When things get hard I try my best to be grateful and positive. I remind myself that better times are ahead and just to be patient.
When the pandemic happened the first thing I thought to myself was “why me?”
Did I do something terrible in my past life to go through something like this? I know I’m not the only one thinking this.
Everything I wanted was taken away from me. My dreams, aspirations, fantasies just slowly faded away. It hurt a lot knowing that I had zero control over this and I wasn’t going to be able to meet my goals and expectations. I’m still grieving the loss of what could have been.
I lost my freedom to travel back home. Before Covid I could travel back and forth to Vietnam as I pleased. Feeling homesick? I had December and summer break to look forward to. Missing home food and wanting a getaway? I knew that traveling to Paris to see relatives would be closer to Los Angeles than flying all the way to Ho Chi Minh city. With Covid restrictions, seeing my family was impossible. When California was in lockdown, Vietnam was open but the boarders were closed for international flights. When California returned to being fully open, Vietnam went back to lockdown. It was frustrating to wait all this time only to be told we couldn’t travel.
I lost my dream graduation ceremony. This one was hard to accept because I’ve worked so hard to get accepted to LMU after dropping out of Sarah Lawrence College. My family went through some rough financial difficulties back in 2014 and I had to start all over again with college applications. All the struggles from moving to NYC, then going back to Vietnam then relocating to California felt like it was for nothing. My LMU communications diploma was sent in a mail and after opening it I just cried in my room. I couldn’t believe this was my reality. Holding my diploma in my bedroom while my parents were stuck in lockdown. It was sad and incredibly depressing. However, I am hopeful that when I get to reunite with them we can make up for lost times 🙂 I’m sure my mother will throw a big party!
I lost my fantasy of post-college life. I was thinking of networking in person, meeting new people, having a fun time and job searching. Oh and meeting guys too 😉 The reality was me being stuck at home, doing Zoom interview calls and applying to 30 jobs on LinkedIn and Glassdoor. It was a nerve-wrecking experience waiting to hear if I got accepted or rejected. Many times I didn’t even hear back. Applying for jobs online is tedious and exhausting. I felt angry and upset because I was at a disadvantage. I was a recent college graduate with zero connections in Los Angeles. I felt like a tiny ant in the big city of Los Angeles. I felt envious of friends who have lived in Los Angeles longer than me being able to network and get jobs fast. But I had to remind myself again and again that I am new to this country. I’m an immigrant building a new life for myself. It feels strange to say that because I do have a U.S passport but I had to come to terms with the fact that I’m really starting out from the bottom. There is no way I can compare myself to Americans who’ve lived all their life and was born here. All I can do is take the smallest step in front of me and keep going. Don’t give up Catherine! You’ve got this :p
The good news now is that I got a job as a Hostess. It might not be the job I envisioned for myself but I’m going to make the best out of it. I’ll use this opportunity to learn how to build rapport with guests and continue honing my communication and organizational skills. I’m going to treat every job that comes my way with the utmost respect and make the best out of it.
I lost my motivation to blog regularly. The stress of job hunting, networking, getting used to a new life in Los Angeles while compounded by the pandemic was a lot to take in. I’ve learned that adaptability is the secret to life. Before the pandemic I always felt inspired. Topics for blog posts would come naturally. But now my creative energy isn’t as strong as before. Instead of forcing myself to write, I just relax and take care of myself first. I know that when I’m in the right state and focusing on being happy rather than doing my creative energy will come back. I’ve learned to not be so hard on myself and also to have fun with the process and learn as I go! It doesn’t have to be perfect. My blog can be anything I want it to be. I think I spent too much time trying to make my blog perfect and that caused me to be so unhappy and distressed. Right now, I’m chasing the excitement and writing what makes me happy and focusing less on what others think.
Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned from the pandemic:
#1 We have the capacity for resilience
We’ve all been challenged this past year. All I can say is that if you are reading this you are stronger than you think. If you feel lonely and sad reach out to me here. And do not be afraid of asking for help. Whether that is from your friends, family or going to counseling, I highly encourage it.
#2 Vulnerability is a gift
I strive to be vulnerable now. I think it takes a lot of courage to open up. I think when we open up people connect with you on a deeper level. Everyone is struggling right now despite what they post on social media. Don’t believe it.
#3 Take time to smell the flowers
Life is slow now. I can’t believe that life is so quiet now because I don’t hear the traffic noise at 7am anymore from my balcony. Maybe that’s a good thing. We’re starting to slow down and prioritize our health and safety first. Instead of rushing to work, now I wake up and enjoy my breakfast at the table. It’s been lovely not having to deal with traffic. Work from home has been great because you can have a work/life balance. What I love about it is going for walks during the day and then coming back to work feeling refreshed. But I do miss meeting people in person for work.
#4 Adaptability is the secret to life
Before the pandemic, I absolutely disliked the word “flexibility”. To me being flexible was a joke. How can you be flexible when you can have structure and get to your goals faster? I’ve always thought routine and structure was key to success. But now I think having flexibility is better. I think you need to have a balance of both and not one or the other. When you can have structure and flexibility you’re able to adapt as you go.
#5 Saying goodbye to perfectionism for good
The one thing I’ve learned about myself is perfectionism is toxic and has caused me so much distress. Now I aim for progress and I give myself a big pat on the back after I do something. Even writing this blog post took a lot from me. I focused on writing what made me happy instead of writing a “perfect” blog post.
I will never take connection for granted anymore! I miss it. I can’t wait to hug my friends and family 🙂
#7 Being kind to yourself and others
I am no longer overbooking myself on Google calendar. Since life has slowed down dramatically I am now just used to do 1-2 things a day. Before the pandemic I was doing 4-5 things and running from place to place. Now it’s no longer feasible. I have got used to doing my tasks at a slower pace. The thought of doing things at a faster pace right now would overwhelm me. I’m still recovering from Covid PTSD.
#8 Keeping up with the Joneses is unsustainable and toxic
Spending time at home also meant I’ve been spending less money. That is great. I’ve learned to appreciate what I have in my closet and room. I’ve been watching the financial diet lately. I love the episode on “How the Real Housewives poisoned our relationship with money” You can watch it here and this one with Kelly Cutrone here
#9 Spend time in nature
Each weekend I make it a goal to be outside in nature. I love being surrounded by the trees, ocean and horses. I feel so at peace and whole. When I feel lost and uncertain about my future I spend time in nature and ask the universe to give me messages and signals that things will be okay. And most of the time the universe does respond
My goal is to focus on being in the present. It’s no longer wanting the things I don’t have. It’s actually wanting the things I do have. See the difference? Being grateful and happy of what I do have has alleviated my stress and anxiety. I gently remind myself that my family is lucky to be vaccinated and healthy in Vietnam. I remind myself what an amazing experience it is for me to be here in Los Angeles. To experience this new world and gain so much knowledge while living and working here.
I know better things are yet to come.
I’m hopeful we’ll all be okay.
Thank you so much for reading. If you’d like to work with me contact me here.
I would love to meet you and hear your story.
xx Goodnight from Los Angeles