4 World-Changing Women Share Their Biggest Lesson from the Pandemic

This week, our "Balanced Life" columnist chats with other pioneering women about how they will forever be changed by the COVID-19 lockdown.

Sweta Srivastava Vikram

We are almost in the third week of July. Most of us assumed that life by now would have returned back to normal. Or at least, we assumed that a palatable new-normal would be in place by now. But that’s not the case, is it? Not for those of us following the rules, trying to stay safe, and practice social distancing.

Before the pandemic hit, a lot of us were blowing through life. There was no reason to believe that one day we would wake up and things wouldn’t be the same, ever again. We took so much for granted. This period of uncertainty and pause has taught us life skills and resilience. It’s shown us life is what we make it. It’s also reminded us that humankind learns to evolve and adapt to survive. It’s reiterated in us what matters and what can be tabled under “frivolous indulgence.” Less is more, and self-care isn’t selfish.

The pandemic taught me that self-care is radical. It showed me if I didn’t take care of myself (my physical, mental, and emotional health), I couldn’t be present for those I love or care about. So, I made self-care a priority these past few months. And I was curious about how other women I admire have been dealing with the lockdown, and what they’ve learned — so I asked a few of them for their reflections. Here’s what they had to say:

Rachel Hills (author, producer, and founder of the New York City-based community PowerBitches): “I’ve learned that I have the ability to stand still. I’m looking forward to being able to travel, host dinner parties, and go to museums again, but I’ve also learned that my life won’t fall apart if I don’t cram it with activity. That I have the capacity to withstand boredom, and to let creativity seep into the cracks.”

Pavla Lokajová (writer, journalist, and corporate storyteller): “I don’t want to prove anything to anyone anymore, especially to myself. The pandemic (and three months of social isolation) showed me that there’s nothing to fear in isolation, that I am still connected — and even more so, connected to myself. More importantly, it helped me recognize and see the new me, who did not frankly want to have the same lifestyle my old self enjoyed so much. My circle got closer and smaller.”

The pandemic showed me that there’s nothing to fear in isolation, that I am still connected — and even more so, connected to myself.

Mita Mistry (cognitive therapist and acupuncturist): “The biggest lesson has been to never take anything or anyone for granted, especially little things like being able to see family and friends or pop in and see a neighbor whenever we wish. Social distancing has highlighted the importance of human connection and it’s a reminder that it is often the small things that mean the most.”

Gineyda Diaz (Executive Director at My Money Workshop): “One thing I’ve learned is that people deal with stress differently. No matter how put together or ‘normal’ someone was before the pandemic, their anxiety and fears (even ones stuffed deep down) manifested in very real ways. People tend to tell themselves stories when they lack information and their fears exacerbate those stories, no matter the accuracy.”

Social distancing has highlighted the importance of human connection.

Hearing these ladies say what they did reinforced my belief that everyone has a different takeaway and a lesson to remember. And that they are all equally important, because they are unique to the individual and their experiences. To come through this with some sense of sanity, it is imperative that you check in with yourself. How do you feel? What are you reacting to and how are you handling your reaction?

While it’s frustrating not having answers or seeing any end in sight, I am a big believer that every experience teaches us a lesson. We have to change our lens to see the good in the worst of situations, but it exists. It is upon us to try and look closely to find it.

So I’d like to ask you, SEEMA readers: What has the pandemic taught you and you wouldn’t forget long after life returns to normalcy?