By Raegan Gibson, Paganelli Law Group
Let’s dispense with the pleasantries and get real. We are not OK. We are in the midst of a global pandemic, suffering through a highly contested presidential election, gearing up for another Supreme Court battle, the Pacific Northwest is on fire, the Eastern seaboard has been hit with so many hurricanes that they are using the Greek alphabet, we have all been forced to conserve toilet paper at some point in the last six months, and the cherry on top—many of us are educating our kids from home while working full-time jobs. What in the literal 2020 is happening? I honestly have no idea but I have devised a three-part survival guide to get us through this.
Frazzle. As I write this article, imbued with the credibility of my third-day hair and my dress leggings, I hereby declare that we must embrace the frazzle. It is the new normal. While we attempt to juggle our regular lives from the beforetime and all the challenges gifted to us by this pandemic, we have to cut ourselves some slack. The house may be messy (except the tiny portion visible on Zoom). You may be wearing a dress shirt on top and pajama pants on the bottom (a 2020 mullet). You may be running your law practice out of your bed or a damp corner in your basement. And, you may be ordering way too much DoorDash and gravitating toward your holiday pants. It is OK. Don’t beat yourself up. Give yourself some grace, pat yourself on the back and take comfort in knowing that we are all right there with you.
Dazzle. The pandemic has changed the way that we practice law, but it hasn’t decreased the demands of our jobs. Quite the opposite. The shift to working from home has extended our workdays and created a new expectation that we are available for legal work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It seems that the ultimate flex is continuing to crush it at work while maintaining our sanity, occasionally speaking to our significant others, keeping our children clean, fed and reasonably educated, and not completely losing contact with our friends. But how do we do this? On a particular rough day over the summer, during one of my award-winning pity parties (if you want an invite to the next one, let me know), a dear friend gave me some great advice—adjust your expectations. He suggested that previous metrics by which we measure the success or failure of our days are no longer applicable. We are living in a new world and if we don’t change what we expect out of each day accordingly, we will always fall short and end up stressed and disappointed. Solid gold. Since that call, I have worked to be more reasonable about the goals that I set for myself and I have found that I am still able to dazzle professionally and personally while maintaining my sanity.
Rinse, Repeat. One of the most difficult things to do right now is to keep showing up. To shake off the fear, uncertainty, disappointment and exhaustion and move forward with a positive outlook. I’ve certainly had my days. Weeks even. But this will end. We just have to take care of ourselves until it does. So, make sure that you take time out of each day to do something that makes you happy and refreshed, whether that is a walk, yoga, a movie, a good book, time with friends, or even a nap. Lean on your tribe of family and friends to support you. If you don’t have a tribe, if you are feeling isolated and alone, the IndyBar is here for you. We are a legal community. We have multiple, daily opportunities for you to connect and develop relationships with other lawyers. We have multiple resources to help you maintain your practice. And, we have formed a group to support lawyer-parents during this challenging time. If you need support, you have the IndyBar.
In conclusion, you’ve got this. We’ve got you. And, as for 2020, it can go 2020 itself.