Early this year, I began brainstorming ideas and slogans for my business. The seriousness of the pandemic hadn’t really taken hold and all that was looming was a temporary shutdown. As a web developer and designer, I thought about creative ways to talk about bringing a business online and to the digital world. “Make your Reality Virtual” was the phrase that I chose. Little did I know, that this virtual reality would become the new normal over the next six months and possibly beyond.
At the time, I was working for a company who had a brick and mortar presence, but primarily functioned as a virtual business with employees who worked from home across the country. I was familiar and comfortable with sitting at my computer for a company meeting and spending my day at home completing my work.
Once a week, I had to show up at the office. This day always felt like an impossible chore to me. But it wasn’t just the drive, or the fact that it was required. It was the forced interactions that I told myself I preferred to avoid. “I’m an introvert,” was always my default response. As if that phrase made it ok for me to avoid all connections. Lucky for me, I found some wonderful new friends, who saw me, really saw me, and made me look forward to those forced days. They helped me focus on what was good about showing up, even if the rest of the work and required in person meetings were hard. I learned that there was joy to be found in authentic connections.
Fast forward a few months and there is no more office days. Every day is spent “connecting” through a computer screen. At first, this required time at home felt like a blessing. I had started my own company now and I was a business of one. There were no required meetings, virtually or in person. No one to answer to. No deadlines that took priority over my family and well-being. Never leaving my house unless I wanted to. But I felt like I was sinking.
What I found out, was that I was only living in virtual reality. Virtual- almost or nearly, not physically existing. Without connection, real connection I was missing out on real life.
But making connections was something that I could control. I choose friends and family over work, and put my focus into really being there. I run with a friend two to three times a week who helps make me a better runner, but more importantly, a better person. I eat lunch every month with one of my best friends, who I used to go months with out seeing. I play games with my children whenever they ask. I have chose to place my values over “productivity”. I won’t make my reality virtual anymore. I chose real life.