Sometimes That Rug Just Ups and Vanishes
I love remote work, and I'm hugely grateful for all my online friends around the world who I get to talk geek with. But there's also something special and unique about friendships IRL. I didn't realize the toll the pandemic had taken on me until I was flat on my back.
Sufferin’ succotash, did that rug ever get pulled out from under me. Time, money, and planning—years in the making—gone, in a snap. In case you were wondering, I had been expecting to attend a major tech conference in Portland, Oregon as well as host an event which people from all around the world had signed up for. Then suddenly…
BAM! I got Covid. 😭
But that’s not what this essay is about. I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m generally in good health. I managed to avoid the more debilitating strains earlier on in the pandemic. I got all my vaccinations first. So for this altercation with the virus…well, sure, it really sucked and I was laid flat in my bed and easy chair for a few days—yet this too shall pass.
What I do want to talk about is my anger and frustration in the aftermath of it all. Obviously it goes without saying that these are Hashtag FirstWorldProblems, but as I’ve come to discover over the years, the worst thing you can do with anger is ignore it.
And I was pretty damn angry.
I think it was one of those straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back sort of things. It’s not that I was merely angry about the immediate frustrations of what happened. As I said, this too shall pass. It’s that I was angry about this whole blasted pandemic and how it wrecked havoc on my relationships with local professionals in my field.
You see, I moved to the Portland area in 2017, and by 2020 I felt like I’d finally been making some meaningful inroads into the community. Winning friends and influencing people and all that. Enjoying a wide variety of meetups. Here’s a fun fact: I first learned all about web components and the “Shadow DOM” (what the heck is that?!) at a local web meetup. Not a blog post or YouTube video or a Zoom call. An event IRL. Or how about this: in March 2020 I was literally about to sign on the dotted line to contract with a local Portland company…my first substantial project with a firm in the area. I was hugely excited!
Fast forward two years, and this time I was hopeful that maybe—just maybe!—we’d finally rounded the corner on this thing. The tech conferences were coming back. Maybe the meetups would come back too. And then we could put this whole dreadful ghastly business behind us and feel human again.
Welp, guess we’re not out of the woods just yet. 😵💫
Slowly, bit by bit, my anger has been dissipating and life is getting back to normal for me. I’m mostly back on my typical pace of work and content creation and all that jazz. But I wanted to share with you my little pity party. It forced me to realize the depth to which I had been grieving for the lack of real, human connection in my local community.
Listen folks, I love remote work, and I’m hugely grateful for all my online friends around the world who I get to talk geek with. But there’s also something special and unique about friendships IRL. And I understand now the toll it’s taken on me to have neglected that side of things all this time.
While what happened to me last month was a major blow, I hope it can at least serve as a wake-up call that I need to prioritize the connections I’ve made and can make in the future in my local community. I don’t need to wait for the perfect meetup to appear or some flashy tech conference to roll into town. I can be proactive myself. I can reach out to friends and colleagues more, crawl out of my shell.
Easier said than done. I’ll let you know how it goes!
Photo credit: Jessica Knowlden on Unsplash