This day… Astrid on vulnerability

What is going on at the moment, and how do we deal with all the changes? In this blog, someone from the Flow team shares how she is dealing with the current situation: both on a practical level and in her head. This time: Astrid (Flow’s creative director) on vulnerability.

Do any of these sound familiar? Getting a lump in your throat when you go to the supermarket and see all those ‘keep-your-distance’ markers on the floor; suddenly starting to cry when you hear a song on the radio; feeling sad when someone gives you a wide berth as they pass you—which of course is completely logical, even necessary, but also so utterly how things shouldn’t be.

Or how about when you wake up in the morning and think about your child going into another day without his classmates. Or when you look in your agenda and see a concert that has now been canceled and you still remember how happy you were when you had bought the tickets. Or when your eldest child comes to you and says: “I just got an email about my school trip; it’s not going ahead.”

And then the awful feeling of not being able to embrace my parents when I go to take them some flowers. Oh—and one more: seeing a photo that was taken on New Year’s Eve where you’re laughing with friends. Which suddenly feels so very different, because we had no idea then what would be hanging over our heads in the year to come.

I feel so vulnerable at the moment. And I know I’m not the only one. Colleagues waving to their mothers from the nursing home garden. A friend with a sick brother. A child abroad who cannot come home for the time being. We’ve all been affected and are all a little lost, walking around in (searching) circles within our own stories.

But there is another side. Namely that no matter how unreal the situation is, the conversations that we suddenly have with each other are so genuine and honest. Regardless of whether it’s via Zoom, on social media, or from a meter-and-a-half away: everyone drops their shield.

All of a sudden it seems very common to say that you are afraid, have not slept, are worried… At least, I certainly no longer hear, “Yeah, I’m good thanks,” when I ask someone how it’s all going. Mails from semi-strangers start with the sentence: ‘I hope you’re coping okay’. Messages end with: ‘Be careful’. Even the emails from shops and companies can touch me simply because of a well-chosen sentence.

To be honest, I actually like all this sharing without a filter and opening up to how you’re really doing. I hope it stays that way in the coming weeks; I think it helps us through this weird time. And I hope that we will continue to do it when everything is a bit more normal again. For now: I hope that you are coping okay. Be careful, stay healthy and above all, please don’t pretend to be stronger than you feel.

Text and photography Astrid van der Hulst  Translation Julia Gorodecky