When I read the title of Sara Menzel-Berger’s blogparade "We make the world as we like it", I promptly thought of Pippi Longstocking. And since there are no coincidences … Skoobe presented me the audio book a few days later. The next sewing hours I experienced again wonderful adventures with Pippi, Annika, Mr. Nilsson and all the other characters from this childhood companion. Meanwhile, my subconscious mind kept thinking on the subject.
Why I rather did not want to enter about Pippi after all? WHAT bothered me about it? I googled the quote – there it was, the difference. Pippi speaks of herself, of the I – Sara of "we". This reaches much deeper.
WE make the world the way we like it.
Small difference. Decisive difference. Because this "we" – that has fascinated me for a long time, this small, wonderful three-letter word.
We – what does this we consist of? Well, you and I – we are already two, and thus one we. All those who participate in this blogparade are a "we. "we" is always, when it is more like one person.
So "actually" we is very comprehensive, it is every community, every group, every society. But all these "wes" are not the point – so the next question was: who is we??
Ok – first of all: who doesn’t belong to it??
Once again, the easiest way to get a more precise definition was to first answer the question: who does not belong to this WE I want to write about here?? My provisional answer: "All those who don’t see shaping as their task/challenge/opportunity."
(spontaneously written down by hand – do you know that, that you rush out sentences and THEN wonder what you wrote there?? That’s how I feel about this sentence …).
Puuuhhhh. Ok – then my "we" for this article is probably "my" bubble of solo self-employed people who more or less know each other, each doing their own thing but still connected by some sense of community. "You’re not alone" – at the beginning of the Corona pandemic, that was a statement that showed: we’re all in this together.
We were all affected, and it affected almost every one of us in a very unique way. We are all still in the pandemic boat – each in our own place, and each with our own issues and things in our luggage. In 2020, everyone redesigned their everyday life for themselves – thereby reshaping this we. Some stepped back, disappeared from the scene. Others reinvented themselves. Some simply continued. Almost everyone adapted somehow. The we changed with – and remained in the core a we, which did not want to leave anyone alone.
We all felt: this is getting serious. The beautiful word solidarity got another meaning, became heavier, more serious. If we started the first lockdown with a certain readiness, now, one year later, we are almost all just one thing – tired.
Tired. Sooo tired.
No matter who I talked to in the last weeks and months, one theme is present everywhere: fatigue. The feeling of walking through tough mudflats. Not moving forward, no light at the end of the horizon. Always the same task: cope with this day. SHAPE this day. Can’t? Too tired? OK – cope with the next minute, dear. Take my hand – I’ll pull you along a bit (you did that for me three weeks ago, do you remember??)
This is the task. Every single day. Like it or not, but that is not the question here. Which each of us has to cope with separately, which is easier when I know that there are "more people like me" out there who feel the same way. Who are usually only one message away to jump to my side.
A choir? A choir.
In the end, our "we" is a choir, certainly a rather chaotic one, in which many voices emit the most diverse sounds. For all the chaos, there is a certain fascinating harmony in there. One of the voices in this choir (sometimes louder, sometimes quieter, sometimes not to be heard at all) is mine.
Now I’ll get specific – how do I deal with these design challenges?
What issues have been on my mind in the last year (or in year 1 of the pandemic)?? How did I deal with it? There were many challenges. Any amount. As a self-employed person I am used to this; already as an employee I was a good trouble-shooter who liked to do this too. The difference now: all of a sudden there was only trouble shooting. Even though it’s fun, it gets exhausting at some point.
I’ll pick out three areas – and then I’ll look at the we again. And what all this has to do with each other&
The full brake March 2020 meant "suddenly calm" – really now?
When I read Susanne Lindenthal’s article on Sara’s blog parade, the familiar grumbling I felt last year rose up in me again
(Susanne is also part of my "we" – different voices make the choir& her article is absolutely worth reading! Because she draws her very own conclusions from the full braking that was prescribed to her). Because while a lot of people were forced from the fast lane to the hard lane … most of my colleagues, who are working in the field of "online business" like me, were working even harder. Suddenly, people who had previously rejected "this online thing" wanted to play online very quickly.
(that all the parents who suddenly found themselves homeschooling didn’t have that forced peace either – I know that. And I have a very, very great respect for all the parents who have been caring for their children for more than a year now, accompanying them and helping them to cope with this situation).
So when they talked about "positive sides of the lockdown" – I mumbled to myself while looking at my overflowing appointment calendar.
And that was my first task of the design: to come to terms with this conflict between the "oh, wonderful, this calmness" told from the outside and my own totally different experience. I learned (once again) to prioritize myself and my needs – a learning process that continues to this day.
If I am not well, if my reserves are not well filled, then I cannot advise my customers well. For putting it into practice, the "we" came into play again: in the form of my mastermind partners and many other people, who sometimes supported my learning processes with just a word or a sentence.
Life is getting lonelier
Living under Corona also meant – many of the things that gave me islands of casual cheerfulness and togetherness in everyday life no longer exist and no longer existed. No more meetings with friends, and if I did, at least not with a warm hug! It became clearly lonely(er) around me.
That was the next design task: how do I deal with this emotion?? I am known to be introverted, and at my sewing machine I can totally forget the time (and then wonder why it is already getting dark again?). But loneliness I feel is tough, oppressive, enormously debilitating. In addition, this forced retreat (still) has no discernible end.
Again selfcare became important, because without a few hours in a different environment I was missing an important charging station. For me a decisive measure was: once a week I work in the CO in Esslingen. Without this weekly escape, the walls of my otherwise much-loved home office would have crushed me long ago. The CO is large, everyone has more than enough space, and the hygiene concept is coherent, well thought out and good.
And my business?
As already indicated – if you work in the online sector, you have a good chance of not being directly affected by the Corona crisis. This is also true for me, and for that I am very grateful. At the beginning of 2020, I had issued the slogan "I’ll be working more offline this year," but of course it quickly became clear that that was not going to happen this year. Thanks to my profession I could quickly change my mind. My offers work almost all online – I could work, I wanted to work, I worked.
Some people came to me with panic in their eyes. "Quick, I have to go online now too!"Of course I like to help. But it doesn’t work without a certain basic understanding, a certain experience. They don’t come overnight. With guidance and support this works out faster. Only: a learning curve remains, which wants to be stepped through. In connection with the considerable stress that many had and have, this is definitely a task for which I have respect.
This task has been mastered by people who wanted to actively shape "the new". Whoever hoped that they could simply transfer what worked well offline to online without adapting – fell flat on their face.
Here, too, "shaping" is the order of the day. Shaping one’s own appearance, one’s own expectations, one’s offer. Constantly checking if what I expect comes out at the end. Close observation of the market and quick reactions. Often these are not big changes – but decisive ones.
Back to the we
I know from many conversations – what was on my mind was also on the minds of many others. Probably no one can really claim that "the situation" has passed them by completely without a trace. Until now, many topics (or "problems") have only affected parts of society, but this time we needed a VERY big boat. In which we all sat, without exception.
Also my environment, my "we" squatted in this boat. We all found ourselves facing the task of shaping this new reality. So that it fitted to us. For many it meant first of all to secure the income. For some it was damn tight, others had much more to do. Almost all of us cared about each other and about people dear and important to us. A short exchange often helps, in which a "today is stupid, somehow" does not change to "now pull yourself together!"but to an "I know" that help is no empty phrase.
We sometimes had to deal with very different issues – complete professional ban! Homeschooling! – to name the two most extreme problems. Even those who faced comparatively smaller challenges still had enough to do.
We designed, as good as we could. We still create, as good as we can. Each one for himself – and yet always in connection with and to the others. Because that’s what makes us human: we can only survive in the long run as a "we".
And yet we are tired. I AM tired, and without "we" I would probably give up. I would have retreated to some corner long ago, closed the door behind me and thought to myself – I can’t anymore, I don’t like anymore.
Tired? Yes. All? Probably … but not all at the same time.
One of the biggest miracles for me is that such phases usually don’t hit everyone at the same time. If I’m struggling today, you’ll support me. If you fail the day after tomorrow, I’ll be there for you. Whoever can help, does. Often it is a word, a smile – it doesn’t take much if there is a basic ingredient: trust. Probably this is also the secret basis, which carries us all – the trust. It makes a WE out of all the I’s, and that is stronger than the sum of all the I’s.
The WE wins
My conclusion from one year of the pandemic: The WE wins. I am infinitely grateful that I don’t have to move through this time alone and lonely. That there are colleagues out there who also put the WE above selfishness. That help is not an empty phrase, but something very concrete (I am talking about help among each other, not about governmental help – THAT is not the topic here).
For me, the most valuable, most beautiful realization is: that we will master this design task. Somehow, maybe with bruises or so.
And: the WE a treasure that wants to be cherished, cared for and appreciated. In the pandemic. And even more so afterwards. We’ve more than earned it then.