Almost everyone faces fear, worry, and uncertainty due to the pandemic’s upheaval. Author, coach, and executive Anne Boudreau had to make peace with those feelings when she decided to travel from her home in Atlanta to Cape Town, South Africa — against the advice of family and friends — to bring home her daughter who became stranded by the pandemic.
Anne’s daughter, who will be a college senior next year, was stranded after a “Semester at Sea” — a cultural trip by boat through Southeast Asia with 600 students from around the world — was canceled due to the pandemic. Anne had to decide whether or not to travel in the midst of the outbreak. Against pressure from family and friends, she left March 12 on a 9,300-mile journey by plane to Johannesburg and then Cape Town to be with her daughter and bring her home.
Anne struggled with, “Do I leave my family and what happens to them while I am gone?” (with a husband and three kids at home). “I was receiving a lot of pressure from not only my family, but also my friends — I think because they were afraid I would never come back…I decided, ‘I am not going to let my child stay there alone.’”
Anne and her daughter departed South Africa March 23 on Delta’s last flight out of the country before travel was shut down, making it home safely on a plane with every seat filled. Here are some lessons she learned that might help others dealing with fear and uncertainty:
- Fear does not change reality, but anxiety makes it far worse.
- Take responsibility for your own thoughts and emotions. Try not to allow your thoughts to wander into negativity. Consciously manage them. Learn practices you can implement that will be soothing, calming, and give you clarity of mind and heart.
- Adapt to living in the moment. It’s very hard for people to do that, especially in a crisis. But we have no choice. We have to learn how to be in the moment and be comfortable because right now we don’t know what the future will be.
- Be compassionate with yourself and others. Listen with an attentive, open mind. What I am doing with my family of five (plus three dogs) is to ask my family to choose to be consciously optimistic, given the fear and uncertainty.
How do we do this? We conscientiously work to transform our internal monologue before it spills out into the open. We each remind ourselves in the morning and throughout the day that we have two choices: to feel frustrated and fearful, or optimistic and courageous. The choice is clear.
Anne Ockene Boudreau is an inspirational author, coach, and executive who is devoted to helping others develop healthy self-worth. In her new book, A Human Mosaic: Heal, Renew & Develop Self-Worth, she reveals how self-worth is a critical element for sustainable personal change. For more information visit www.AnneOBoudreau.com.