How to Explain Your Post-Pandemic Life Changes to the People in Your Life

New language for a new time

Julio Vincent Gambuto
Forge

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Photo: Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

For many of us, the last year was a major turning point. The Great Pause, and the painful fifteen months that followed, illuminated where life is letting us down, where the stories we tell ourselves are proving insufficient, and even where our dearest relationships are failing. Yes, there is light at the end of this strange, dark tunnel — here in New York this week, fireworks lit up the sky to celebrate our “reopening” — but for many, myself included, the light belies a deeper personal understanding: there are parts of life that simply cannot go back to normal and must change in “The After.”

I always find when I want to change my behavior — when I need to effect changes both large and small — I have to find and use new language. Words are powerful. Refreshing my day-to-day vocabulary does three things. First, it helps my body process the change. As I feed my brain and my heart new words to put in my mouth and type on my phone and keyboard, they know that “something is up.” Next, because I stay present to my language (informal and formal), I stay off auto-pilot. Auto-pilot spells disaster for personal change-making. Habits die hard, even after a 15-month hiatus. Lastly, it helps the people around me understand what to expect from me going forward…

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Julio Vincent Gambuto
Forge

Author + Moviemaker // Happiness in a fucked-up modern world // New book from Avid Reader Press (Simon & Schuster) // Audie Finalist // SXSW // juliovincent.com