Most elastics are designed to be reusable. Exercise bands, hair elastics, the rubber bands that come with broccoli…all are designed to be used more than once.
But if an elastic stays stretched for too long, it won’t go back to its previous shape. It might still be useful, but not for its original use.
Can you relate?
We’ve been stretched for a long time.
I’m encountering situations recently where I’m being asked to resume a previous shape that no longer fits me. But it used to. It looks like it should. People around me expect it to. I might even think it should. But it’s no longer a good fit. (To mix my metaphors: favourite pre-COVID jeans perhaps??)
It’s quite possible we’ve found ourselves on both sides of this conversation. I’m hearing it in return-to-the-office arrangements, where leaders are expecting their people to return to a once-familiar situation that no longer feels right to them. There’s resistance on all sides.
That resistance can come from both wanting to go back and not wanting to. Nostalgia pulls us back to the familiar, while at the same time we hope the stresses of these past couple of years have not been for nothing. We want them to have made us different in good ways. We’re stretching into new ways of being that don’t yet feel familiar, and the magnetic pull back toward what we’ve known is both strong and uncomfortable.
What patterns might we need to unlearn? What once-reasonable expectations are no longer fitting?
It’s spring where I live. New things are sprouting. May this be a season where you give yourself and others space to experiment with what our new, emerging shapes require of us.