A Letter to My Younger Self on Successfully Making it Through COVID-19

Nobody was prepared for what happened. For most of us, we thought COVID-19 was something that would simply pass through the night. I do not think anybody was prepared to go through so many special celebrations, sleepless nights, tons of worry, adaptation and loss, self-reflection, and doubt.

Like so many others, I had some bottled-up energy inside of me when COVID-19 struck in March. I remember the second weekend in March, expecting it to be the same as others except for this time, I never went back to work when Monday rolled around. I remember my desk how I left it; my open agenda on my desk, a pack of gum down to the last one, my eight-pound weights beside my desk as part of my 2020 New Year’s resolution, and left-over Christmas candy I begged students to take after every coaching appointment.

For some reason, I think about my desk often. I guess it reminds me that things can be normal one minute and so chaotic, and anything but normal, the next. I often sit in front of my new desk and my new normal is being welcomed by Microsoft teams and Zoom while I pray and hope for a great “connection”. I used to use the word “connection” so differently.

I often say to myself, “If I had just known….” But the reality is that I could not have known.

No one told me that my life would change so drastically. I had no time to prepare and I like to prepare. I still do not feel like I have order. I feel grateful in many respects, but I see so many small businesses closing, and so many livelihoods ruined, that I take it on because it just does not feel fair. I am tired of the mask and often feel like I cannot breathe but, understand the importance and never leave home without it. I never thought my mask would take the place of where my keys once held the most prominence.

No one told me that my fun-loving, social self would have to isolate and find new ways to network and reach out. Community people need community since it is often so tightly wrapped around many people’s identities.

No one told me that the extra-time for self-reflection would have me second-guessing my decisions, doubting my path, and exposing myself, and catching the “Not Good Enough Syndrome”.

No one told me that I would find undiscovered hidden talents and finally have the time to think about and seriously ask myself, “What’s Next?”

No one told me that I would become more technically savvy and much more creative in my endeavors.

No one told me that my online family would become even more powerful and prominent in my world.

I have my good days and my bad days. I long for normalcy but, not even sure what that is anymore. And, when I think about the normalcy, I thought I once had, not sure if I even want that back.

 So, in my letter to my younger self, I would suggest ten tips to get thorough COVID19”

  1. Recognize that all the feelings you are having are normal, but you can and will get through this
  2. Take this time to do something new for you and make sure to give yourself some extra love, attention, and patience during this time
  3. Do not spend time only reflecting on the COVID crisis. Do not forget to reflect on what you have learned about yourself through this uncertain time
  4. Make sure to keep community around you. Reach out to your family online. A plan B is better than no plan at all
  5. Everyone has a story to tell so do not take things personally
  6. Change your narrative by barring the negative thoughts with positive thoughts
  7. Embrace change; there will be a lot of it so just think it as a time of big growing pains
  8. There are no written rules to follow. You must find what works for you
  9. Be the boss of your mental health needs. Implement at least three coping methods to deal with stress
  10. Set goals but just remember, that there is no timeline or set of “to do” rules; nobody said you had to lose 30 pounds, get a six-pack, and be a better version of yourself before we beat the nasty pandemic down

Last March, once the reality of COVID-19 hit, I made a “to-do” list and not a letter. I have since sent that list out to sea and instead, wrote a very kind and empathetic letter to my younger self letting me know that it is all going to be OK, that we are all in it together, and relinquishing my control and desire for certainty is the best gift I can give myself.


Shelly Elsliger
Shelly Elsliger
Shelly Elsliger is an engaging LinkedIn Trainer and President of Linked-Express. She coaches executives, diverse leaders, aspiring women leaders, business students and job seekers, as well as corporate teams; inspiring them to maximize their professional branding potential and their social influence on LinkedIn. Shelly is a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF), recognized as a Woman you Need to Know by the National Women Speakers Association, a Forbes Writer, a Women of Inspiration Winner 2019, and on the list of globally recognized LinkedIn Training Experts. She is also the LinkedIn Trainer for Rotman Commerce at the University of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario and the Founder of the #DecidetobeKind Campaign to stand up against bullying on LinkedIn Shelly’s diverse experience as a professional LinkedIn Trainer and Coach allows her to bring a unique breadth of knowledge, as well as an aspect of fun and passion, to all her workshops and speaking engagements especially "LinkedIn in High-Heels: Rise Up and Lead Online"; her signature workshop aimed at helping women business leaders successfully rise up, own their space and find their voice online. Her motto:"Instead of waiting to be noticed first, be a Leader in your space-Lean-In, Listen-In, and Link-In!"

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  1. A really nice thoughtful honest article Shelly
    I’ve heard so many people say, they’ve ‘learned’ so much through this pandemic,
    so that has to be good.
    “And, when I think about the normalcy, I thought I once had, not sure if I even want that back.”
    This is something we should all ponder since some of what we ‘learned’ was we were working so hard for a living that we were: neglecting our children, family needs, overly depending on our kid’s teachers, and overly trusting our kids believing they were spending all of their time in good positive ways.

  2. Shelly, You really are a force for motivation and getting through the current pandemic with a delightful level of positive energy. You description essay will help anyone who reads it because it releases symptoms of depression, concern and worry but deals with such negativity replacing it with a can-do posture. looking back on a younger self, nothing gets in the way of progress. Many of us have learned valuable lessons, and those who instinctively did not previously enter the realm of kindness now engage with people and in return exchange empathy and kindness.

    Shelly you really have opened up an avenue of brightness, tamed by reality and again released to ensure we all get through this together. And together we will.