When small losses add up it can lead to languishing
My partner and I like to travel. I'll admit that she is a better traveler than I am, even though I can pack for almost any trip in a carry on. She's fluent in two languages and can get by in several others. I only use American English -- sometimes that not so well (or is it "good"?).
The pandemic stymied our plans for several trips, a couple we already had tickets for and some we were just in the thinking-about-it phase. It was a real loss for us to put those plans on the shelf indefinitely. And we didn't complain about it or even talk about it much because we knew of other people who suffered loved ones in the hospital or worse. We hunkered down and counted our blessings. I even figured out how to make a mask out of an old t-shirt.
Our losses indeed seemed small comparatively: date nights at home instead of going out, working from home instead of seeing people in person, adjusting to zoom meetings, missing family gatherings and events, losing the gym and pool, getting used to wearing masks. The list goes on. But still we counted ourselves lucky because most of our friends and family members didn't suffer the most serious consequences of Covid.
Sometimes I think we didn't grieve our losses because we were worried that greater losses were coming. It almost seems now like we were holding our breath or waiting for the other shoe to drop. Whether for this reason or because other people's losses seemed greater than ours, we didn't recognize most of our losses, let alone grieve them. The trouble with this, of course, is that grieving is actually a healing process and *not* grieving our losses, whether they were greater or not, meant we were not healing.
We were not alone. Adam Grant has written about the condition he found himself in during 2021 -- he labeled it "languishing". And it hit the target for so many people that his NYTimes article was quickly read by millions of people and then by millions more. "Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield." It's the feeling that goes with words like "blah", "meh", and "drained".
Last fall, we found some of our travel vouchers were expiring. These were from tickets we had hoped to use in fall 2020 and then spring 2021; both of those were cancelled due to Covid.
The pandemic was still very real. We thought about it and looked at the risks. We decided to go ahead and take the risk, with as many precautions as we could. The traveling
was difficult -- delays, cancellations, and required testing. The charming hotel we had originally booked was closed -- a casualty of the pandemic. It was difficult and it was worth it; we had the kind of experiences that we travel for. We got to be in a culture
different from ours, to meet new people and see the remnants of ancient cultures, and experience natural wonders unique to those places. It also helped us recognize our losses and begin to grieve them. And, doing our grieving, we started to heal.