In the early 2000s, there was a grocery store strike in California. People began to shop at smaller stores during the time rather than break the picket lines at the large chains. During this time, many people who never shopped at Trader Joe’s started shopping at the store. The Trader Joes regulars were upset that now the stores were packed with people who normally never went and their shopping experience at a beloved store changed, it was like their peaceful place had been invaded by unruly visitors who didn’t know how to behave, and no one knew when they would leave.
This is a bit of how I feel in this current work environment. I worked for a virtual school for five years doing online education, I loved it. In the past 15 years, I have completed two teacher certification programs that have allowed me to advance in my career, the programs were online. I am currently in an online master’s degree program, and I enjoy it immensely. I chose an online program because it didn’t make sense to me to work a full day and then sit in a classroom for four hours several times a week.
I have been using zoom for several years. I did the altmba program, and now I belong to several creative groups; I have friends worldwide, and we all use zoom. Now when I turn on the TV or listen to the news or have conversations with people, all I hear is I hate zoom! Are you sick of zoom? Online Education is going to turn our kids minds to mush.
In this zone I relate to the people who were bitter that everyone was shopping at Trader Joe’s during the strike.
This is where I feel like my nice peaceful place of online education , virtual creativity, and building community over zoom has been invaded by the Barbarian Horde that is pillaging the land and disturbing my peace. So it has made me grumpy, angry, and frustrated with most people.
I want my peace back. For years I went to Zoom and the people didn’t complain about the platform, the people enjoyed being there and enjoyed each other’s company, we wrote books, set goals, shared about trips, it was so neat to me to learn how to navigate time zones, and talk to people in Germany, England, Austria, Texas, and even fellow Californians. My creative life has flourished. For years I took writing classes all over Los Angeles, but it wasn’t until I started participating in groups in zoom, did my work begin to flourish, I have an active blog, podcast, and am about to publish my first novel. All done in a virtual environment.
At first when people would rant about how horrible zoom is and how terrible it is educating students from home , I would show empathy, listen, and try to open possibilities that good things could happen. Yet at times, I just feel like it is going down a hole. It got to the point where I figured maybe there was something wrong with me, perhaps I should hate zoom to, and complain about it to fit in.
I did some reflecting, and this is what arrived. People are struggling and suffering in this environment; it is hard for them. I can give them that and respond with compassion towards the plight they are having. To be thrust into an environment that they didn’t want or ask for takes time to get used to.
I had found myself beginning to get bitter and frustrated with most people, but then I decided that this is not the road I wish to go down. Rather than be bitter and frustrated, I had to make space for both my joy and compassion for their pain, my bitterness and frustration,
Instead of choosing to be frustrated, I can choose to show compassion towards others and acknowledge that this has been difficult for people. I can move through the world holding gratitude and compassion, by acknowledging that my anger and frustration are a warning signal, but not how I want to walk through the world daily. I can release and embrace gratitude, knowing that the world can present us with unfavorable circumstances, but we have the resources to face them and contribute each day. .
I also can make a trip to Trader Joe’s, when I walk in and the smell of fall instantly gives me a better state of mind.