“How are you under pressure?” It is that job interview question some stumble over, while many answer “well” to some degree and follow with an explanation of their stress-approaching prowess. But the degree of pressure and stress isn’t necessarily pointed out, rather you set the example of the most stressful situation you’ve handled.
The last few months have been an over-the-top chaotic, pressurized example situation for many of us. And we find the question now reframed: How are you really under pressure in chaos? Do you rise above the rest? Did you rise above the rest? What did you feel revealed your true weakness(es)? Do you allow yourself to be scared while you try to helm the ship through the storm?
We’re still coming out from under the throes of the natural disaster of Coronavirus and the above questions are ones that were fiercely tested among us. When we’re under pressure, are we as eloquent as we believe? I feel I was not. Most of us probably felt we were not.
After few weeks away from work, I came to the realization my behavior in interacting with the public with all the uncertainty was not the best or my best. I did okay, but my fear showed. I had a few snaps at individuals not respecting the distance I needed to be comfortable. The anxiety was really there. My boss even admitted we all had those moments.
For some, including myself, it would then follow us home, with nights spent upset, in tears, battling anxiety, or even panic attacks. Why? Fear.
You may have had a few moments you were not the proudest of. Wondering to yourself, after you’ve had time to calm down, where all of this was coming from. Who is this person? Why is it so much more difficult to be nice? To be patient? Questioning your ideals as a compassionate person. Or finding you have a little more bite to your personality–something you were not entirely aware of. It may have even been a bit unsettling. Or reassuring that you can hold your own.
And that’s not a bad thing. These last few months have been a test of our patience. A test of our coping mechanisms. Our will power in cases too. We all have discovered sides of ourselves in this mess.
So now what? As we slowly move back to a more normalized day-to-day life, how do we take these new parts of ourselves? What do we do with that?
Understand why you reacted the way you did. Maybe you are not proud of your reactions to stress. Was it fear? Was it the anxiety? Recognize that and accept it. Don’t beat yourself up. Many of us have had these feelings, so take a moment to also realize you are not alone.
Now, how do you ease those feelings in the situation? Take a deep breath. Remove yourself from the situation. The last one might not always be possible, but in some cases, just a “I need a moment” and stepping off to the side can help give you time to collect yourself or calm down.
Apply the above solutions to those situations, or dig deeper and work out those as well. For myself, if I’m too anxious, I have been trying to step away or give myself a moment to breathe. It’s not perfect, and it will take some time to refine it and have it well-implemented into my routine, as it will most likely be for you as well.
And as much as the last few months have brought out some new sides of us, we can use some of them in the months ahead. Recognize you are compassionate. Maybe you did lash out because you care so much for not only your health, but the health of those around you and don’t want to see anyone abusing that. That’s ok. Just maybe, there’s a better way to approach it.
Remember you’re not perfect. We’re not perfect. The real strength is taking what has happened, recognizing our actions, and using them to be better. To help more. To be better versions of ourselves. And come out of this just a little bit stronger.
Lalita Chemello is a Detroit-born writer newly displaced to the west side of the state. She’s written/edited for New Roads lifestyle magazine and Panorama. Her other passions are photography, motorsports and screenwriting. You can also occasionally find her around town on her vintage two wheels.