Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021. The proverbial “breaking point” for me. Let’s talk about the metaphorical mental cocktail that I’d been perfecting for some time. Take one shot of 14-month isolation, mix vigorously with equal parts government mandates, and fancy bar graphs depicting deaths per million. Add one teaspoon of a vitriol presidential election for flavor and garnish with a lawsuit from an unhappy customer who just wants to have a wedding during a global pandemic (I own a wedding venue as a side gig).
Once I had perfected its potency, I took a big swig on March 3rd and then stared at my computer screen for 15 minutes before realizing that I simply could not work that day. The laptop was closed. Not a word was spoken to my colleagues. I simply got out of my chair with no real plan. As a PM, not having a plan is kind of a big deal. Engage cerebral autopilot.
Walk to car.
Place keys in car.
Don’t stop driving.
During the pandemic, my wife pointed out that “It’s Fine” had become a bit of a daily overindulgence for my vocabulary, brutally forced into my subconscious after months of throwing my hands up in the air at every mention of the word COVID or lockdown. It was my feeble attempt at trying to brush it all off.
I started using this phrase mostly as a joke. “It’s Fine.”
Another six months of lockdowns? It’s fine.
My favorite restaurant closed again? It’s fine.
We are facing our 4th lawsuit in three months. It’s…fine?
You get the idea. I had hit a point where I simply needed to disengage and shut down for a bit. To quote the IT Crowd, I tried turning it off and then back on again. It had taken months for me to finally come to the realization that things weren’t okay, and honestly, that’s okay. We all know that times are rather strange right now. Like a three-year-old throwing a tantrum, I refused to submit to the notion that this was the “new normal.” As a coping mechanism, I hid behind words like “it’s okay” or the all-too-classic meme.
This is fine. Everything is fine.
The truth is, I was not okay. I needed a day to reflect. To shut down and perform a hard system reboot. Clear the cache and start fresh. Once I had committed to taking a much-needed mental break, it was remarkable how simple and effective it was at getting me back into the right state of mind.
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