A nostalgist is often defined as someone who has a sentimental longing for something in the past. These days, many of us also seem to long for the pre-COVID world, the freedom and privileges we perhaps took for granted. As inevitable as this may be, I think what is more pertinent is to look forward to the new world beyond this temporary phase (because that’s what it is — temporary).
There seem to be a million ways we can prepare ourselves to welcome this world. We could Netflix our free time towards that, as we indulge in documentaries about countries and cultures we always wanted to visit. And then, perhaps prepare a holiday list for later. We could equally nourish our minds by reading with abandon. Or we could pick up innumerable new skills that would help us in that new world.
The future will always be uncertain, but at least we know we are preparing ourselves in productive and fruitful ways.
In this process, we could recall our respective ‘learning voyages’ and how we may have stumbled, but then eventually mastered an art or a skill. Perhaps how we learnt to ride a bicycle, use a digital device, or a design software for the very first time. And perhaps here, there’s no harm in being a nostalgist, as we hark back to how we started something new. Because that nostalgia motivates us, fuelling our ambitions to meet the new world. In the current context, many have picked up video-conferencing skills for the very first time. Some of us even have senior family members who have slowly learnt to use and adapt such conferencing apps to stay connected with loved ones all over the world.
Back to fundamentals
At the end of the day, it seems to boil down to the fundamentals of learning. The process takes patience, unwavering determination, courage and humility to learn from mistakes.
I still remember how I started to drive, after I finished my driving lessons. I took the wheel, nervously wondering what I was supposed to do and how to go about it. And though I held a license, here was the moment of truth. The various parts of the car confused and mocked me, as I stuttered through the quiet road tentatively. Eventually, with guidance, practice and a certain inexplicable confidence, I started to drive.
The possibilities are endless, even in these times when events seem to overwhelm us. The weight of the present could seem to bog us down, but the promise of the new future is far more powerful, in my view. This optimism isn’t unfounded, especially when we discuss professional careers and aspirations. We are at the cusp of a revolution, as most research points out. But future outcomes depend on how we approach the present. As they, say, we will reap what we sow.
The work place in many sectors across the world has already adapted itself very quickly. The question is: have we adapted our minds to the workplace of the future?