Has anyone else felt like summer 2021 just didn’t live up to their expectations?

For months all I could think about was how great the summer of 2021 would be.

I was excited to reunite with friends and family again. I thought I would be out all the time. I imagined that NYC would come back to life and that it would feel like “normal” again. I thought I would travel somewhere great.

But the other day I realized that not that much had changed in my life since the lockdown. Yes I’m going out more but I’m still very cautious. Summer was mostly over, I hadn’t done many of the things I thought I would do.

I guess don’t know what “normal” is anymore.

Instead, every day seemed like Groundhog Day, albeit a bit better.

I’m still working from home. I’m on zoom every day. I do social media trainings and speaking engagements virtually. I avoid the subway. I work out at home. I still wear yoga pants almost every day. I haven’t yet been back on a plane. I’m too nervous to go to a large wedding or an in-person conference.

These are some of the very special people with whom I choose to see now in this new normal

Even though I’m fully vaccinated and doing some more adventurous things, like going to an outdoor concert for the first time in a year in a half, I am not the same person I was in March 2020 and may never be.

I had FOMO for a bit when I saw photos of people’s vacations to Mexico and going to conferences, but I began to realize that others also felt that summer was speeding past them. These same people told me they felt things were far from normal and they too had changed.

I guess this is what Adam Grant meant by “languishing” in his New York Times article.

He called it the “blah” that many of us are feeling right now.

He also said it was the neglected middle child of mental health that can dull motivation and focus — and it may be the dominant emotion of 2021.

In my opinion 2021 seems more like an expression of our collective PTSD from the pandemic.

18 months or so was a long time to have our routines upended. Life as we knew it completely changed in a few days snd we were left to navigate it – unprepared.

I never worked from home before March 2020. May be a few days here and there, but generally in the legal industry working from home is frowned upon and face time is considered an important aspect of getting ahead.

Suddenly I was home in my New York City apartment every single day and it was really quiet. I had the company of my dog but as an extrovert it was a very strange routine shift. I missed having colleagues. I missed in-person interactions.

I stopped getting dressed up in traditional law firm attire and put all of my work clothing in storage in favor of workout clothes. I worked more than I ever did because it was frankly not much else to do and I no longer had a commute.

For almost a year and a half that’s the way I lived (adding two puppies to the mix after my older dog passed away last June).

And then things started opening up again and some wanted to get back to “normal” in a world that was anything but.

I had a panic attack when a client told me they wanted me to go to an in-person meeting because I knew they didn’t require masks for anyone.

I knew it wasn’t the right decision for me nor was it a good use of my time to drive almost 2 hours each way to the client for the day. I’ve learned how much more productive I am working from home.

We wound up parting ways finally because they just couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to drive the long way there and put myself at risk when everything we do can still be effectively done virtually.

I’ve learned how much can be accomplished during a virtual meeting – I think about the days I used to fly out to San Francisco for a one hour meeting or hop on the Acela for the day to go to Washington DC, again for one meeting and realize just how inefficient that was.

We are living in this new world and trying to get back to “normal” when everything around us has changed.

Thankfully most law firms have changed their policies about requiring their employees to go back to work ASAP.

The legal industry has forever changed and the firms that embrace that will be at an advantage talent and client wise.

The arrival of variants isn’t making it any easier to look ahead. It is hard to know if we should feel hopeful or cautious. Maybe both? Just know that however you feel is okay. And your moods will likely swing depending on the day or the week.

It is okay to not be okay – especially with all we have been through. I’m calling it post-COVID PTSD.

So I’m not expecting too much from 2021 and also not beating myself up for not wanting to do too much. My fun is mostly seeing a few close friends and my family in person and going to my vacation home on the weekends.

Maybe you feel this way too – know that we’re in the same boat.

Also know that I’ll continue to hold free webinars every month if you are also nervous about being in big groups but you will likely catch me dressed like this – yoga pants and a casual shirt (no judging!). Here’s a link to my next one.

The shirt is from my favorite quarantine workout – an amazing woman owned business KK Sweat. They are a great example of pivoting during COVID when the fitness industry was shut down. Their founders Kara and Kate had no choice and quickly (and successfully) transformed their workouts to an online format. Having these classes kept me sane, healthy and fit. Check them out.

Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.