Massive Change is HERE
Massive Change is HERE
The world is changing…has Changed.
Can you feel it? Have you experienced it?
The interesting thing to me is that it isn’t just the world that has changed but me included. I am just as much changed as the people and the community around me. This is so surprising.
As a child of relocation, I typically view myself as being separated from most everything, especially the world as a whole. Not too many people really get me or my life experience, so it was surprising a few weeks ago when that intimate connection popped up in an unexpected emotional moment.
Like many of you, I have chosen to stay pretty well away from humankind over the past 14 months. However, the numbers in Texas being low and presented with a beautiful spring day, it was the spark of inspiration I needed to leave the house. We had our masks, and we were going to be outside getting some sunshine.
That simple trip to the Dallas Arboretum with my husband, to see the tulips in final glory, evoked a surprising and guttural response.
I couldn’t believe my reaction to being out of the house…in the middle of people.
That simple Sunday turned into a day of hesitation and even a bit of panic. As I entered the Arboretum, I noticed that it was busier than we expected, especially since we had arrived an hour and a half before closing. My body began to slowly tense up. I felt like I was scanning my surrounding, much like a computer, looking for the open pathways. That scanning led me to choose a path around to the left instead of the right, my typical choice.
That day the pathways seemed narrow especially as people approached, I almost held my breath until we passed each other.
What a strange experience and so unlike my pre-pandemic self. I love people and being around people. I am typically curious and want to talk to everyone, but not that day. My attention focused intently when 10 to 12 people in a group came upon me in a narrow passage.
I strongly remember thinking “Too many people…too many people!”
That is the moment I decided the choice to be at the arboretum, was not the right decision for me.
The Rules Shifted
The crazy thing for me and what I am still wrapping my head around is that ALL THE RULES SHIFTED…not just for me but for society as a whole.
Everyone I came across was harder to read and predict. I, myself was harder to read and predict. In that moment I surprised myself, something that may have never happened before.
What I realize as I reflect on this experience and the idea of emerging from this pandemic is that we are all trying desperately to understand the new rules.
The problem is that the rules are no longer known, and
in most cases, the rules haven’t even been conceived of yet.
Those unspoken rules that we use, collectively, to walk through the grocery store or plan a gathering are gone. The ones that we relied upon and existed before February 2020, no longer exist for most of us.
These social norms are part of the cultural fabric that we depend on to live our lives. Without them everything is up in the air. And without existing and long tested data about COVID and efficacy of preventative measures as well as the vaccines, we are all living lives that are in a constant state of flux.
Adding to the challenges, most of us are still shifting our own rules as we learn, experience, and witness others’ decisions.
These rules will most likely not be set for a year or two. So then what? Do we all walk around on eggshells for the next two years?
Shifting Rules – Judgment not Required
There is some solace in the belief that these unspoken rules will change. Expecting that we don’t know what others believe or want help us to maintain our cool in many situations.
Before the pandemic a behavior or decision outside of these unspoken rules would likely surprise if not grate against someone who knew the rules.
Before February 2020, if you walked up to someone and they took 3 steps back, the response would likely be “Whoa, what’s your problem??”
But now, we expect that we don’t know what people will do. Now, we observe and adjust in stride without judging them for their decision. Today, when someone backs up as I approach, I work to maintain that distance and demonstrate respect.
What has really shifted here is that we are more likely to see the need and their concerns rather than making a negative judgement about them, us or the intentions. Perhaps not reading into situations is a good lesson to learn for the long term.
Unspoken Rules and Culture
Bringing this back around to relocation, let talk about the cultural aspects of this. When we talk about unspoken rules we are really talking about culture. Culture as in the set of rules and understanding that any group or community may have. Typically, these things are unspoken and through experience “understood” by the members of the community.
Each community has these things that are “understood.” This understanding directs the decision making, what is right and wrong as well as the “proper” way to do things and conduct yourself.
When I moved to Minnesota, my southern smile and strong desire to chat was actually off putting to the locals. Whereas it was the key to gaining friends and connections in the South.
Have you been confused by this and want to learn more?
More about Cultural speed bumps on Thursday’s ReloWomen Podcast
On Thursday, I am talking to Efrot Weiss about cultural differences. She has spent years as an EXPAT in Japan and she joins me to talk about some of the lesser known differences and the dramatic impact they can have within communities when you don’t know the rules.
Want to relocate well?
I can help.
Download “a Sense of Home” guide
The journey is easy. Begin here.