Yesterday I should have had my book celebration with the people who became my close community when we moved to Raleigh six years ago. But rather than celebrating with my social tribe, I cleaned the mold in my screened porch — due to social distancing, I obviously had to cancel my event.
This situation has not an easy experience, but being physically isolated from my community also isn’t new to me. Isolation — a word I didn’t have in my vocabulary before I moved to the US 14 years ago. Before that move, I lived all my life in the same country, the same region, and with the same people. Then one day, my husband’s boss called him to his office, and long story short, we relocated with two little kids to New York City. Live in New York City? Live in another country? Who doesn’t feel excited about this kind of opportunity, right? But here is what the manual doesn’t share with you: after the excitement, there is a new reality you need to get used to.
When we moved to New York, I had to stay home with our children, something I had not done before. At the time, I had no friends, no family, and no understanding of the American culture. I was lonely, and even once I had developed a few friendships, inside I still felt alone. I had no greater sense of community or connection, and it took me eight years to create roots for our family in New York.
Then one day, my husband’s boss called him to the office again — and in his very unique way, told him, “Ask your wife if she wants to move to Raleigh.”
“Ra-what?” I asked when he came home with the news. Less than a year later, we left our cute apartment in the city and moved to the Triangle.
This time, I knew a few things to be true: first, it would take a few years to establish a real sense of community for our family + I would likely have that same sense of isolation — again. But I also knew ahead of time what my new reality was going to look like. With this wisdom, I made a promise to myself that I would make this move easier than that move to New York.
This time, I didn’t stay home. Every day I took the kids to walk around one of Raleigh’s neighborhood ponds or lakes, because nature helps us reconnect with ourselves. The second thing I did was network with others as quickly as possible, to build that sense of community faster.
Why am I sharing this with you? Because relocating had two main elements that also exist in our current state of social distancing — your new reality requires you to figure out a new daily routine + it requires you to cope with the emotions of isolation. How many of you feel upset that you can not get closer to elder parents or grandparents? How many of us are missing quality time with our friends?
So here’s the crucial advice I can offer you during this time of change, transition, and feeling a los of control:
- Go outdoors. If you can’t go for a walk, sit or work in your garden. Leave the smartphone/screens behind when you’re not working and just get some fresh air and sunlight. Reconnecting with yourself is critical, because unconsciously —or as I call it “AwareLessly” — we tend to distance ourselves not only from others but also from inner selves. So go touch nature with your eyes and hands. It will help you feel grounded rather than distracted.
- Once you’ve spent that time with yourself, reach out to a friend or family member. Go beyond the text or zoom screen and look at this new normal we’re all experiencing as an opportunity. And maybe we can all learn a new way to quiet the noise and connect more deeply with ourselves and others.
Voices contribution by Noa Ronen, Coach and Author
Noa Ronen Coaching
To read more for Noa, check out her new book BEyond: Leadership from AwareLess to AwareNess.