They are calling this the Great Resignation. By the millions, people are resigning from their pre-pandemic jobs. I’ve heard it said with disdain. I have inferred, since I cannot know what they intended, that some believe people are lazy or taking advantage of the system. That may be true. I considered analyzing employment statistics and reading partisan and bi-partisan news articles. I do enjoy a raucous afternoon of analyzing the data. However, it occurs to me that this issue might be much simpler, and frankly more obvious than formal research might require.
We have been changed by a non-normative event so massive and pervasive that it impacted people globally so as to become ipso facto a normative event. Think back two years to all of the things we would have denied could ever happen or boldly asserted we would never do. You will close all businesses. You will send children home and teach them remotely. You will wear masks when you leave your home. You will work from home. You will see people only on a screen. You will maintain a small bubble of friends and only spend time with them outdoors. You will socially distance yourself from others. You will not have graduations or birthday parties or weddings. You will not visit the sick or dying even in hospitals or nursing homes. No. No. NO. That will never happen. I refuse.
But we resigned ourselves to all those things for survival. We resigned ourselves to protect people we love, especially those who are immunocompromised or elderly. We resigned ourselves so that people could reopen businesses and we could return to our offices. We resigned with the hope that this will someday end.
In that time, tucked away in our safety bubbles, we gave up many things that we thought were crucial. We had elevated those activities such that, even when we were exhausted, we pressed on—feverishly checking items off our endless lists. Overnight, that all changed. We stayed home and spent time reconnecting with partners, children, and family when we would have been running around to practices, meetings, and shopping. Because this has lasted so long, I cannot even remember what I was doing that was so vitally important that I was rarely home for dinner with my husband. Apparently, it wasn’t vitally important because it has disappeared from my life and memory.
Somehow the forced changes to my lifestyle gave me the idea that I could examine the opportunities and obligations in my life and say no. No, I don’t want to do that. No, that is not how I want to use my time. No, that is not who I want to spend my time with.
As with every no, there is an equal and opposite yes (Matthews Second Law of Living; The First Law of Living is Act From Love see my Instagram story). I said yes to taking walks with my husband and our dogs. I said yes to Facetiming my daughter just to check in. I said yes to watching obscure international mysteries, reading my friends’ books, and writing. I said yes to working out and writing online with friends every day. I said yes to taking classes and critique groups.
This might be the Great Resignation but perhaps we are not using the right term. According to the online Oxford languages, resignation is the “act of retiring or giving up a position” or “the acceptance of something undesirable but inevitable.” Certainly, some people are retiring, giving up their positions, or finding new jobs that are closer to home and spark their passions. More importantly we are giving up doing things that no longer fit into our lives. We have changed. What is important to us has changed. From that perspective we are not accepting the undesirable and inevitable, we are refusing the undesirable that no longer is inevitable. Perhaps what is really happening is the Great Resistance. We are refusing to accept or comply with the status quo. We are refusing to accept or comply with things that get in the way of living our best lives.
So, if we must be resigned, let’s do this right.
Let’s be resigned to take care of our emotional, physical, and spiritual health.
Let’s be resigned to support our family, friends, co-workers, and employees in a way that allows them to take care of their emotional, physical, and spiritual health.
Let’s be resigned to use our limited number of trips around the sun wisely.
Let’s be resigned to balance the work, learning, and play portions of our lives.
Let’s be resigned to connect with each other.
Let’s be resigned to laugh and play.
Let’s be resigned to give and forgive unselfishly.
Let’s be resigned to live our best lives.
What will you be resigned to?