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Lessons from Lockdown – “Trust no one”

Lessons from Lockdown #4 “Trust no one”. In my previous articles on lockdown, as experienced by a Misanthropic Maverick (someone whose difference manifests in not really needing other people around, to keep focused on delivery), I have been commenting on the full lockdown experience.

Now that, at least in the UK, (at time of writing 18 July 20) we appear to be wavering around “lockdown-lite”, with freedom of movement, vague guidance on personal distancing, and bizarrely-delayed mandatory mask wearing in public, it feels appropriate to share how the Misanthropic Maverick is doing right now.

It’s not good.

My issue is again my difference, my otherness. However, this time I don’t understand why I am seen as “other”. This is because all I want to do is keep well away from other people who invade my space, maskless and sometimes sneezing (“Oh it’s OK, it’s hayfever”).

I wear a mask in public, and have done since the start. I am a white woman of no particular faith, but have worn scarves and, latterly, home made masks, since the start of this. What appeared to be, at the start, a deeply conformist and conservative approach, now appears Maverick to those who live in my neighbourhood, but in some weirdly anachronistic, “making a point” sort of way. It’s as if the whole world has shifted into overdrive, and I have been left behind.

Lessons from Lockdown – “Trust no one” … I live in a Brexit heartland, with a local average age of north of 65 (it’s the best place to live if you’re 85, in the whole of the UK, apparently). As I am considerably younger than that, those who approach me far to close, and too fast, in shops and on the street appear to regard me as some snowflake, or somehow making a fuss.

This is a really odd about-turn for me, with the roles reversed in a way which I cannot control (not great for a Maverick) and which make me dial up my misanthropy to clinical levels.

Previously, I have written about being perfectly happy to be isolated, about being resolute in my self-dependency. Now I find I am an actual figure of either pity or mockery in many public places. Supermarket security guards speak slower to me, as if I have some learning impairment. Fellow shoppers push past me when I am waiting for an aisle or pavement pinch point to clear. Older people actually laugh at me and mutter disparaging comments about “it’s all over now – how silly” etc when I ask them to keep the stated safe distance from me at till points. I am treated, in short, as a bit of a freak.

I am an oddity, but one which triggers quite a negative reaction, rather than any understanding or fondness.

So rather than noticing others’ fear or misunderstanding of my difference, as previously, I am now noticing others’ irritation at my difference – and my own fear of them. And that’s the rub. I have gone from being a confident misanthrope to a nervous, semi-apologetic sociophobe.

I am actually scared of all the hubris that surrounds me. I actively run from the unmasked and the overconfident.

They terrify me.

As you might imagine, as a leadership coach, this isn’t a great place for my head to start each day. So, I apply my own practice to myself. Self-talk is crucial at this time. I confess, a bit of smugness creeps in too, when I realise that by wearing a mask I am statistically at 40% lower risk of contracting coronavirus (which, in case you were wondering, is still as virulent as ever, with no formal means of controlling it in widescale state-sponsored public supply).

Not a positive emotion, but sometimes it helps to counter the stares, sniggers and shaking of heads by people old enough to know better – or at least have better manners.

Lessons from Lockdown – “Trust no one” …

As with any Maverick, I am keeping my eye on the prize … and coming up with varied ways of getting there. I keep myself out of “their” way, I shop locally in stores where the staff understand, and share, my concerns. I have been on the front lines in food retail – it’s an exposed place, let me tell you.

Most of all, I use my creative otherness to explore ways to resolve household needs and also the needs of clients who crave face-to-face coaching with me and who are “Zoomed out”. It’s an entertaining challenge, and one which I am tackling with gusto.

Viva la difference (as I will be saying louder and louder round here as we approach the end of January 2021). Just do me a favour and keep your mask on when you’re yelling it …

Astrid Davies
Astrid Davieshttps://astriddaviesconsulting.com/
Astrid Davies MA is an Executive Coach and change consultant who uses her 30 years of leadership experience to help her clients make positive changes which last. She is a mentor and guest lecturer at the University of Southampton, including supporting their Enactus chapter for social entrepreneurs. She also runs a series of successful leadership training networking events across the South of England, where she helps young professionals to build an ethical and effective leadership career alongside their professional development. A passionate champion of diverse and sustainable workplaces, Astrid integrates several of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals into her client projects. If you would like to find out more, please go to www.astriddaviesconsulting.com.

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