On Getting By

2 minute read

Every week, I sit down and write something. I learned long ago that nothing quite works like forced consistency. Let’s get real, friends: lately, it’s been tough sledding. I’m tired and absolutely exhausted—and odds are that you are, too. This is hard.

(To be clear: I work in a field where working from home is quite seamless and feel very lucky that my job was not impacted and that I am (1) able to work as I was previously, and (2) am in good health. I am not trying to take away from those doing heroic work, or those who are truly suffering right now.)

Like a lot of people out there, I’m balancing parenting and trying to be accountable in my work throughout the day. In normal times, it’s tremendously difficult to balance parenting—I have two children, 2 and 5—and the stresses of being a working, contributing member of society. Trying to do both concurrently, with limited assistance, with no end in sight? It’s pretty clear to anyone in this situation: I’m doing a half-ass job at both.

It’s a very tough realization: I want to be great, I want to succeed, but I can’t right now. It’s what we deal with as engineers every day but often neglect in our personal lives—nothing can ever be perfect, and we have to deal based on the constraints we’re under. It’s a lot easier said than done, when you’re used to always being up to speed with the latest technology and how you can improve.

I’m blessed to work with good people (and good management) that understand that you can’t possibly expect to perform at the same levels before the pandemic took over. Even so, I constantly am overcome by guilt. I hate that I’m not productive and feel like I’m not carrying my weight. I also hate that I can work from home, while people are risking their lives and suffering.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the far-reaching impacts of this pandemic and how the economic impact has already surpassed the Great Recession—and we be reaching levels not seen since the Great Depression. When we look back on these times, and if my grandchildren ask what times were like, what will I say? That I spent the time being pissy that I wasn’t as productive as I wanted to be?

No, I won’t. I’ll think about a lot of the uncertainty, and how everything was bat-shit crazy. But I’ll also think about how, like any huge challenges in this world, you dealt and you got through it. That despite all the challenges, I viewed it as a wonderful time to stay connected, appreciate my children, learn valuable time management skills, and laugh at little things when dealing with the hard things. That while I feel blessed, I also hoped that others are getting by and are OK, too. And that sometimes, getting by is perfectly fine. Sometimes, it’s the only option you have.

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