How To Deal With COVID-19 Disrupting Your Plans, Career and Everything In Between

How To Deal With COVID-19 Disrupting Your Plans, Career and Everything In BetweenThis week we’re hearing from guest writer Shirlene Armstrong about how to handle the changes and upheaval due to COVID-19.

If you are like me, you are a planner. You think ahead to the future and have a plan of what you want to do and how. I am a very “Type A” kind of person, and I constantly have a well thought out plan. I have numerous short-term and long-term goals, which I have taken methodical steps to reach. However, COVID-19 has completely altered my plans for 2020. Instead of killing it in the office and courtroom, I am working from home and worried about the safety of my loved ones. I am obviously not the only one affected by this pandemic. People’s lives have been turned upside down because of COVID-19. Your life has also been affected by this pandemic. While I don’t have all of the answers, I am hoping to help guide you in how to deal with the pandemic disrupting your life by sharing how it has affected a big portion of mine and what I have done to get myself through it.

The Current Health Crisis

As I am sure you have heard numerous times, there is currently a serious global pandemic. Specifically, this illness is a serious coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19. Since I am not a medical professional or a scientist, I am not going to try to explain the complexity of the ongoing health crisis. However, I will say that COVID-19 is very easily spread and should be taken seriously. For more detailed information, please check the CDC website and your state’s resources on COVID-19.

My Personal Story

2020 was supposed to be my year. It was the first full year that I would be out of law school. It was the first year for me of practicing law as an attorney. Not only was it supposed to be a monumental year for my career, I was also taking a big step in my personal life. Namely, I was supposed to get married to my soulmate in June. Once COVID-19 reached the US and then my state, I was still optimistic that it would be contained, at the very least, by June. Unfortunately, that was not the case. I was heartbroken because I wasn’t able to have a shower, bachelorette party, honeymoon, or wedding like everyone else has been able to have. And I couldn’t have the comfort of my friends and family because we are all quarantined. In addition to the grief I felt for my personal situation, I felt guilty that I was even upset because more serious things are happening in the world and people are dying. This highlights the complexity of the problems, anguish, and stress that COVID-19 has created not only for me, but everyone around the world.

Give Yourself Time to Grieve

I addressed this a bit when I was explaining my story, but it is okay to be sad and give yourself time to grieve. Take a moment (or a few) and process what is going on. Once you have given yourself some time and worked through your feelings, you will be able to have a clearer mind to deal with your situation.

Focus on What You Can Control

Right now, states are trying to figure out what the plan is for the upcoming bar exam. Law schools have been closed and are determining their plan for Fall. Employers are trying to keep people employed and facilitate work remotely. Unfortunately, right now there is a lot outside of your control. It can be extremely overwhelming if you think about everything that is going wrong. Thus, don’t overwhelm yourself by thinking about all the what-ifs, but focus on what you can do and what you can control. So Plan A (i.e. your plan from before COVID-19) may not work out as your plan. However, that does not mean you should throw out all of your hard work and goals. For example, I can’t have a big celebration right now, but I am still able to get legally married in June. And I may be working from home, but I can still settle cases and make progress for my clients! You can still be successful and accomplish your dreams, even during the pandemic. You have to alter your plans by looking at what you can control and make an action plan from there.

Be Flexible With Yourself (and the World)

With a changing world, you have to be flexible yourself. This was the hardest advice I had to give myself. Like I said earlier, I am a planner and not a “go with the flow” kind of gal. However, stubbornly trying to stick to your plan is extremely difficult when it is hard to know what the world is going to look like next week. You will have to make decisions and plans knowing that they may have to change in the future. It is also okay to do things that don’t go according to “the plan.” Right now, flexibility is key in these uncertain times.

Seek and Spread Love and Support

During this pandemic, it is a time for togetherness, not negativity and hatred. This pandemic knows no borders and can infect anyone. This has brought people from all backgrounds together. Thus, this is a great time to help spread positivity, love, and support to your fellow humans. It is also important to know when you need to get help and support yourself. Reach out to your loved ones and stay connected. Despite not being able to see people physically, your loved ones are still there for you and there are plenty of avenues to connect with them!

Looking to the Future

I wish I had a crystal ball and could tell you when this is all going to be over. Unfortunately, I have no idea and there are no clear signs as to when this pandemic will be over. I know that is a scary thought, but it is our unfortunate reality right now. It is okay to be uneasy or uncertain about what the future holds. It is okay to be cautiously optimistic of what is to come. It is okay to continue to plan and take further steps in your journey. COVID-19 has taken a lot of things from a lot of people. One day we will be able to return to a post-pandemic world. Until then, stay safe, stay healthy, and stay hopeful.


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About Shirlene Brown

Shirlene Armstrong is a first-generation student in her last year at Wayne State University Law School in Detroit, Michigan. At Wayne, Shirlene has been involved with numerous organizations and clubs, including mock trial, LexisNexis, the Women's Law Caucus, and the Journal of Law and Society. Shirlene enjoys mentoring others and sharing what she has learned on her legal journey and continues to work hard in accomplishing her dreams.

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