By Susan McCusker ’99

My husband stood in the kitchen with a funny look on his face.
I’d just asked him what time I should leave for the airport. 
I’d had similar confusion packing.
Where were my travel-size bottles?
Had I renewed my Clear subscription or were my eyeballs no longer a reliable check-in system. 

Like all of us, the past 18 months forced my brain to make new grooves.

Instead of flying to see clients I took Zoom calls talking to frenzied, burned out, and anxious clients. 

I homeschooled my children while also saying daily prayers of gratitude that they were old enough to manage themselves for the most part. 

I had heartbreaking conversations with women leaving their jobs due to the strain of working from home with small children underfoot.

And yet, after all this, we find ourselves in a curious period of time I like to think of as re-entry. Whether we’re hitting the road, returning to offices, dusting off the resume and entering the fastest moving job market in generations, or watching colleagues play musical chairs, we are all feeling the searing burn of uncertainty and the reality that things are still incredibly complex. So before we crash back through the atmosphere, let’s agree to be gentle with ourselves and each other. 

A few ideas:

  1. Set Micro Goals: It’s easy to make re-entry a time to set big goals for yourself. But I’d suggest the exact opposite. Instead, set some measurable micro-goals that can be achieved in a matter of days or weeks instead of months or years. Examples may include things like setting up a meeting with a mentor or holding a small retreat for your staff. These small goals will keep you focused on the big picture of re-entry rather than getting sucked back into all the daily minutiae. 
  2. Re-group Your Community: The pandemic highlighted the degree to which humans are a social species. We need people. Specifically, we need community. Work provides a solid sense of community for many of us, and that community was certainly disrupted over the past year and a half. One of the most important things we can do as we head back to the office, or start into a new job, is to start cultivating community with the people who we see on a daily basis at work. This can be accomplished by managing to find time on your calendar to connect with those you haven’t seen in a while or meet people with whom you are just starting to work. 
  3. Rest: Re-entry is complicated. Realize that you may feel more tired than usual. Allow yourself some kindness in your schedule. Don’t expect life to just fall back into place like it was pre-pandemic. Maybe we’ll get there one day, but it's certainly not this day.

Here we are. We have proven we are resilient, if not also exhausted and uncertain.
Here we stand. Not on solid ground, but rather in a place where we can notice that we are part of the shared fabric we have created together over the past 18 months. 
And together, let’s turn our faces toward the sun and hope to feel the thrill of re-entry. 

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