Friday 4th December 2020

Interpreting our emotions in 'choppy waters'

Hannah Harvey, Executive Director, Operations at Saffron Housing shares her interpretations of emotions she's felt this year.

Interpreting our emotions in 'choppy waters'

By Hannah Harvey, Executive Director – Operations

I recently saw a super funny video on Tik Tok… (yes, I have caved and am now a Tik Tok addict much to my two eldest children’s disgust). The video was someone saying how everyone that answered the question in 2015 of “Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” was wrong. After all, who could have predicted we would be confined to our homes for weeks on end only to be set free on the condition that we basically don’t socialise, and if we do, only with certain people, and all whilst wearing a surgical mask.

Whilst I chuckled away to myself at another clearly very bored adult making light of the situation we have found ourselves in, it did start to make me think about how we are all managing to get by in a world none of us recognise. Some of us are using humour, some of us are throwing ourselves into work, some using the time to reconnect with our loved ones and others just finding a way to get by day by day through crippling loneliness and fear. I think I have fallen into all of those categories at different times. I have used humour to detract from the reality we find ourselves in, I have definitely thrown myself into work to avoid this reality, and I have spent some much-needed time reconnecting with my children through the format of Tik Tok, Lego building and countless Play-Doh creations.

Recently, I surprisingly found myself staring fear in the face as we emerged from our shielding period as we have had to be brave and find a way to start to live a life minimising risk for our family. I can honestly say my first foray into the big wide world made my hands shake and heart rate quicken, I felt sick. I headed home after that experience and my own anxiety most definitely affected my mood. I was snappy with my wife, my children seemed to be going out of their way to make my life difficult being super loud, leaving drink cups everywhere and just generally being children. That everyday stuff that normally just washes over my head was affecting me more than usual. I would like to say this was a direct result of my anxiety of going out, but it wasn’t. It was weeks and weeks of pent-up frustration, my tolerance levels of the everyday issues we all face being seriously affected. I could not let things pass me by that I normally would. My fuse was definitely shorter and actually so was everyone’s in my orbit. It was at this point that I took a breath, stepped back and paused before I responded knowing that when I did it would be a far more appropriate reaction to the simple request of “Can I have a snack please mummy?” (not going to fib, the first emotional response was somewhere along the lines of “What do you think I am - a vending machine?”). It did make me think however, if I was feeling this way about a tiny request, I am pretty sure a large proportion of our tenants, and also many of you, must be starting to feel a little weary.

When our tolerance levels are stretched when we are in times of uncertainty, our responses are not as measured as we would all like. We react from a place of emotion and I think we can all safely say right now that we are definitely in choppy waters.

So I guess my point in sharing all of this with you is that it’s ok to feel uneasy, it’s ok to feel like the world around us is unrecognisable and it’s totally acceptable for all of our tolerance levels to reflect this. But what I think is also important to remember is that everyone else feels that way too. That the noise coming from the neighbour we would normally ignore is now getting too much, that the leaky tap we would not normally be in a rush to get fixed is unbearable, and that our interactions with each other now more than ever need to come from a place of tolerance and understanding.

None of us can possibly know how we have each been affected by the situation we all find ourselves in. We cannot begin to understand the paths that people have walked, but what we can continue to do is show kindness, compassion and understanding. At Saffron, our reputation has gone from strength to strength for these very reasons, something I am immensely proud to be associated with. I know each of you continues to strive to uphold these behaviours even when this is proving tricky, you are taking a step back, taking a breath and then responding. This is why Saffron’s future is bright because you all continue to act with kindness and tolerance.

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