I am a rule follower. I respect rules designed to give everyone a fair chance and protect the greater good. By selling everything and moving to Barbados during a pandemic, people say that I am a rule-breaker. I would say that I took the leap and am breaking the norms, not the rules. What is the difference?

Let’s look at broken RULES here in Barbados this past year during the pandemic:

  • A British couple testing positive for COVID run to the airport to escape, rather than go to an isolation facility as per COVID protocol.
  • A bus load of guards from the local prison goes on a pub crawl, stopping at several establishments along the West coast, against the rules of large gatherings in confined spaces.

The breaking of these rules transmitted the virus into the community. When I landed here a year ago there was no community spread. They could track every case of COVID to the plane that it came in on. What followed has been a series of lockdowns and curfews that have affected the entire island and the economy.

Let’s look at some of NORMS that we broke during the pandemic:

  • You must come to the office to be productive.
  • Everyone must commute to be somewhere for 9am and then put in 8 hours of work.
  • Therefore, you must live within a certain distance of your employment.

No broad harm came from changing these norms. I would argue that it provided more freedom for many and with that the thought of “What else can we do differently?”  The change in doing, created a change in thinking and being.

I had already broken these production norms over a decade ago by becoming self-employed and creating a beautiful home office. This was in addition to the societal norms I had shattered of getting married and having kids. It is possible that since I was already doing things differently, it was easier for me to think differently. Now I am in Barbados practicing being different and being okay with it. Simply being.

Trying to squeak out one last beach volleyball game before sunset on the South Coast in front of The Hilton.

It continues to be hard for me to be in this new life that I have created. I get tied up in guilt over surfing in the morning, rather than being at my “desk” by 9am. I am single, which was the biggest success factor in the plan of selling everything and moving to Barbados. Yet, I still wonder what is wrong with me that I am not in a long-term relationship. I am not sure that I can separate the desire to be with someone from the norms and expectations of society to be in a couple. I can tell you that searching for a mate makes me miserable and dissatisfied with what I do have.  It sabotages my joy.

Here is what I know – and it took coaching and therapy to get me here:

The norms keep you bound.

Questioning whether norms are right for you, gives you courage.

Changing ways of being that no longer serve you, brings freedom.

Feeling guilt over this freedom, sabotages the joy.

Why wouldn’t you choose joy?

I need to sort through the conditioning of years to be able to answer this last question, but I am working on it.  For now, I make it a practice to choose joy.

Over to you:

What norms have you questioned, especially during the pandemic? How have you and others taken advantage of the pandemic to step outside their comfort zone and societal norms?