I consider myself a pretty reflective person and during this whole quarantine I have had plenty of time to reflect on myself and on the outer world. Food for thought was given to me yesterday too when I came across this quote by renown Indian spiritual leader Osho Rajneesh: “[…] the human being profoundly fears solitude: in solitude the human being receives no external pretenses, coming to realize that everything that emerges comes from their inner selves”.
I believe that these months have taught us all one important lesson, which is, we should not forget to take some time to reflect on ourselves, who we are, and what our values are. We spend so much time thinking about how other people see us when we post Instagram stories, Facebook, and LinkedIn posts, but who do we want to be? And why does it seem such a difficult question to answer?
Well, my personal view as a curious-minded new entry into professional life is that we are so used to living frenetic lifestyles that we feel guilty or ashamed when we just let go. I believe this is largely due to our Western, capitalistic society as well as to our education. Indeed, at school, at university as well as in the working environment, respecting deadlines when presenting results may well make us feel accomplished at first but, after that, the feeling vanishes, and our focus is directed to the next short-term goal.
Last summer I attended a really interesting course on “The Art of Failure and the Keys to Success” which made me question my idea of everyday priorities. What I realized was that it comes so natural to prioritize duties that we end up delaying, or even giving up on our passions and true aspirations.
Over these last few months, the whole world stopped and people’s lifestyles inevitably changed. This time has been, perhaps, the longest we have had to focus on ourselves and on ways to alleviate feelings of loneliness and uncertainty. It was in this time that we rediscovered the values of solidarity and trust, appreciating little gestures and life’s pleasures. This way of seeing life in a different light made me reflect on how much we lose as a society by not taking time to cultivate the latter values because our minds are so overloaded with daily tasks. It is as if we were never alone: we are either in the presence of people or of our own thoughts.
The George Floyd killing demonstrated in a tragic way that the time we take to reflect on values as equality and mutual understanding is never enough. In the last few weeks people all over the world have joined to speak out, breaking an uncomfortable silence. Yes, “uncomfortable”, because everyone of us knows these are core values of our democracies but how often do we hear or read about them?
Perhaps reflecting and questioning ourselves, not from a professional or public point of view but as people, as citizens, is not after all less important than claiming skills or experience we gained on our CVs, but could instead, make us more inclined to speak or write about these values.