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Finding Your Courage in the Year of the Pandemic

Picture this: it’s the night of New Year’s Eve in 2019 and we’re headed for what we think is the best year yet. We’re finally re-entering the Roaring 20’s and all we can imagine is Gatsby-like parties and nothing short of greatness in our everyday lives. We’re planning for vacations, weddings, graduations, and all sorts of gatherings… until we open Twitter and see “Coronavirus” is trending. 

A pandemic is ravaging our world and it’s quickly headed our way. Craziness ensues and we see everyone emptying out stores, gas stations, and restaurants for toilet paper, Clorox wipes, and Lysol. 

Next comes the confusion (and quarantine). What do we do now? Do we have to clean every single grocery item with a disinfecting wipe? Where can we go? What CAN we actually do? And most importantly, where do we get masks?!

As we saw all over social media, the beginning of the pandemic was collectively spent binge watching shows on Netflix, making bread, serving up some whipped coffee, and giving in and downloading TikTok. It all seemed good and easy, right? 

That good feeling of trying out new things came to an end and we all realized things weren’t getting better any time soon. After months of being in a sort of quarantine, a lot of us hadn’t seen our friends or family in a long while. We hadn’t eaten inside a restaurant or met up with friends for drinks at a bar in months. No more long, crazy nights at the St. Mary’s Strip. No celebrating birthdays or anniversaries at the Tower of Americas. No Fiesta. No more spending long hours at our favorite coffee shops. All of our favorite daily activities were suddenly gone.

Life as we knew it had come to an end. The pandemic caused a huge shift in our normal lives that’s still affecting us today. It’s safe to assume that a lot of us had to give up so much of our lives for the safety of our communities, and because of that, so many of us found that we had to come to a pause on things we were planning for -- things that both would’ve and could’ve given more meaning to our lives. 

That’s when we decided to start our Things I Probably Wouldn’t Say Out Loud wall. Our team realized we really missed connecting with our community and wanted to do something to make our customers feel welcome and included. 

"Travel solo" post-it note. Poetic Republic Coffee Co. 2021Our first topic of “I wish I had the courage to…” was a great start for our new project because we found that a lot of people were relating their entries to the pandemic.After speaking to some people about their comments, specifically the ones about travel, we came to the realization that the pandemic was the biggest issue keeping them from being courageous enough to live out their adventures. 

Our wall also proved how much our social lives had been impacted by the pandemic. One of our entries said “ask a guy on a date” while a similar one said “say yes to a date for once.” The dating scene became nearly obsolete because of Covid. How were we supposed to go out with strangers when we weren’t even seeing our own friends and family? 

Similarly, another entry said “make more friends.” After having lengthy discussions with my coworkers about this, we realized how difficult (and lonely) the year has been when it comes to meeting new people -- both socially and romantically. There was no way of going to our fave spots where we can meet people who have similar interests as us. 

"Make friends" Post-it note. Poetic Republic Coffee Co. 2021

For those of us who require social interaction, life in a pandemic was unusual. Because we’ve spent over a year now distanced from others, it’s been weird (to say the least) to try and put ourselves out there. Personally, I’m still struggling to figure out what I’m supposed to do or where I’m supposed to go to try and make new friends. We’re still in sort of a limbo where half the population is going about their daily lives while the other half has not left home except for essentials. So the question is: when is the appropriate time to begin socializing again? 

"Dance" Post-it note. Poetic Republic Coffee Co. 2021

 

Another common theme was the need to express ourselves through art and creativity. Two people wrote they wished they had the courage to simply “dance” and “take dance lessons.” Others wrote about wanting to write. 

Writing has always been a great passion of mine for many reasons. It’s the shared trait that has been passed down from my mom, to my older sister, to me. That’s why I personally connected with those who shared their dreams about wanting to write. One that stuck out to me the most said “start on that story I’ve been thinking about for two years!” because I also feel like I have so many ideas or stories I want to tell, but fear keeps me from pursuing what I want to do.

"Start on that story I've been thinking about for 2 years" Post-it note. Poetic Republic Coffee Co. 2021

Others wrote about wanting to “write a romance novel” or “study literature in Spain for one year.” Reading how other people also wanted to find the courage to live out their writing dreams was inspiring. In a way, I believe it has helped me to be here writing this today.

The ability to gain the courage to do something comes with acknowledging your fears and finding a way to stand up to yourself. The range in this theme was so broad that we had someone write something so simple like “say no to coffee” where on the other end someone else wrote “admit that I’m not okay...and sometimes I need help.” 

"Enjoy moments, live in the moment" Post-it note. Poetic Republic Coffee Co. 2021

It was fascinating to see how people’s fears ranged so differently from each other. The conversation over fears leads to the reminder that we’re all human and just trying to survive. Whether we’re just looking for the courage “to go outside and not be scared of bees” or searching for the strength “to be a leader,” we can all agree that courage is something we all need more of in ourselves. 

 

"Create larger dreams and do the work" Post-it note. Poetic Republic Coffee Co. 2021Overall, I believe the conversation of finding courage leads to the idea of following our dreams. We all have things we want to do, and whether we realize it or not, these ideas are a part of what we want to better ourselves in the long run.  

One of the comments said “to say I love you more often,” and although I may not know the reasoning behind this, I believe it’s safe to assume this will change the person’s view on love in a positive way.

Others wrote about long-term goals like “start a dating journey for one year” and “drop everything and move to a new city.” Both goals are doable, but what do we have to do to find that courage within us to go after what we want?

After reading everyone’s responses, I believe it’s important to stop questioning ourselves on why we can’t do certain things. That’s the easy part, though. The journey starts when we decide to stop asking why or stop wondering what if and start doing

"Quit my real job and open a coffee/art shop" Post-it note. Poetic Republic Coffee Co. 2021

As things start to look better pandemic-wise, I hope it’ll be easier for people to get out and find their courage. Personally, I found that writing what I wished for (and then talking about it with my coworkers) was a good way to even just start thinking about what I’d like to do to work towards my goals. 

I also hope our first session of Things I Probably Wouldn’t Say Out Loud was an eye-opener for some and helped people start on their personal journeys towards fulfillment. If anything, I hope we’ve at least helped in making you feel more included and provided a safer, more welcoming environment here at Poetic. 

 

Written by Cristina Medina

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