What Have We Learned From Social Distancing? – Part 1

In the spirit of doing what Unsettled does best, bringing people from all over the globe together for a unique shared experience, and in a time where global friends might feel extra distant, we thought we’d bring some Unsettled Alumni together for a unique blog post. Together we’ve crafted and co-created an Unsettled Group Blog Post! 

Inspired by words from alumni all over the planet, here’s our first group blog post bringing us together through shared experiences, even though we’re all apart. 

Read on for some inspiring words and some familiar faces…

Happy Reading,

Naomi & Lisa


What’s one thing you have learned since social distancing was recommended?

“Who would’ve thought staying locked up at home would actually teach you something right? Out of nowhere this pandemic hit, and suddenly I no longer had to commute to/from work, to events, to social gatherings, to coffee shops and malls. And somehow, combined, all those hours gave me an extra day during the same day. Spent mindfully, I realized within every hour, that I was truly blessed, blessed to have a home, to have food, to have good health and mostly to have this amazing connection to the world, right here at home. The world isn’t even what we see with our bare eyes, it’s human connections we build throughout our lives.”

 – Remy Mattar, Lebanon, Unsettled: Bali Alum

I learned how to do something called constructivist listening, which is different from active listening in that its purpose is for the benefit of the speaker, not the listener. It consists of two people getting together to listen to one another, and allows the speaker to reflect, release emotions, and construct new meaning about whatever challenges they are facing. It is meant to help the speaker process and release feelings that may interfere with clear thinking, reveal patterns of rigid responses and habits, and allows for the construction of new meaning, when necessary. The listener does not ask questions, offer suggestions, or tries to solve anything, as it is asserted that the speaker has the best solutions for whatever situation they are facing.  All they need is an attentive listener to help them sort out their own thinking by ‘discharging’ all the constructed feelings, emotions, and meaning.” 

Itzbeth, USA, Unsettled: Bahamas Sailing Alum 


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“The amazing thing about this globally shared experience is the number of unique situations each individual finds themselves in. Some feel lonely and isolated, others surrounded by families and loved ones for an extended period of time; some stuck somewhere far from home, while others are enjoying the stay at home life. For me, I happened to be visiting my parents for a weekend in Houston,TX while I was in the process of moving several of my belongings from Albuquerque, NM, to Austin, TX when the stay at home order was issued in both these states, and others. I was both in a familiar setting in the house I grew up in, and yet far removed from the life I was hoping to build when 2020 started and I had decided to move. With most of my belongings between my 2 apartments, I found myself woefully unprepared for an extended stay at my parents house (or so I thought). I quickly learned to adapt and realize that the few sets of clothes I still kept here and what I had brought in my weekend bag were more than enough to get by in a house where persona mattered more than possessions. There have been several lessons I have learned during this period, of leadership, community, positivity, and others, and yet the one that resonates the loudest is how easy it is to live on less.”   

Saagar, USA, Unsettled: Cape Town Alum

“It’s essential to move my body everyday. Running in the mornings has kept me sane.” 

– Piper, USA, Unsettled: Bali, Croatia Sailing, Tuscany, & Thailand Sailing Alum

“I was more distant from my friends than I am now… all the buzz from everyday life kept me from really keeping a strong and meaningful connection with them. I feel like I was not having enough time and space in my head to dedicate to building deeper connections with those around me, and it was easy to oversee it because the relationships were also based on the everyday speed and the physical presence. Once all that was removed it opened my eyes to see what was lacking.” 

– Diana, Colombia, Unsettled: BVI Sailing & Bahamas Sailing Alum   













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“Time slows down but it’s also running out…” are lyrics from “Simple Song” by Passenger that resonate quite strongly with me because whilst life is moving at a different pace, time is still ticking by one day at a time. And, this is time that we won’t ever get back, so why waste it on people and things that drain my energy, eat away at my joy and mess with my flow?! One of my big realisations during my Unsettled trip in Feb this year was that over the years I have been overly generous with my time – who I spent it with and how I spent it because I either didn’t want to rock the boat or upset the peace but, all that did was deplete my energy, joy and flow… The ROI on my time spending wasn’t worth it and the only person who has the power to do anything about that is me. I am therefore trying to use my lockdown period to (1)  be more “time conscious”; (2) to re-imagine and re-configure my life by re-connecting with the people and things from my past that were “my time worthy” and (3) to challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone by introducing new people and things into my life so that collectively these can energise me, give me joy and steady my flow. Easier said than done for sure, but also not impossible!” 

– Kristin, South Africa, Unsettled: Buenos Aires Alum 

“That it doesn’t matter how you interact with people. The difference between physical and virtual is small if you connect with the person on a deeper level.”

– Flavio, Switzerland, Unsettled: Buenos Aires Alum 

“That interacting with people is an essential part of my daily life.” 

– Lucia, Italy, Unsettled: Virtual Retreat Alum

This time has shown me that physical presence is an important part of what friendship means to me. The action of walking together through life is what helps me to feel loved and seen by my friends.” 

– Stacy, USA, Unsettled: Peru Alum 


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“On March 16th I returned home to Australia to mandatory quarantine after spending a wonderful week with Unsettled in Sri Lanka. Having scoffed at the hoarders before jetting off to Sri Lanka, I was running perilously low on toilet paper, but my main concern was as an extrovert, how I was going to cope with the isolation… my housemate had moved out and the rules were I wasn’t allowed to leave the house at all for 2 weeks. I was surprised to find that at the end of the quarantine period I could have continued with living alone. The experience has given me the confidence that despite my extrovert tendencies, I can spend time alone for extended periods of time and not go mad. Interestingly I also felt closer to my family than ever during that period. We are scattered around the world and although we regularly chat individually, we hadn’t discovered the wonders of Zoom for virtual family gatherings. The quarantine period was a strange paradox of being the most physically isolated I’ve ever been, but feeling incredibly connected to family and friends. And lesson learned, extroverts can live alone, yay!”  

– Louisa, Australia, Unsettled: Virtual Retreat & Sri Lanka Alum 

“That I can only control my own actions and those in my household. Seeing others disregard the guidance can be an easy way to get angry and frustrated, however, it’s outside my control and so I’ve decided not to dwell on it.” 

– Jenny, USA, Unsettled: Sacred Valley Alum 













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“Things you take for granted can change very, very fast. Did people in spring 1914 know what was waiting for them? Or in summer 1989? We live our lives as if everything would always continue, but a big surprise (both good and bad) might just be around the corner.” 

– Werner, Germany, Unsettled: Barcelona Alum

“I have learned how important and essential it is to practice being present with whatever is unfolding. This time has put a magnifying glass up to how little control we have over the world and our individual worlds. I have found how comforting mindfulness meditation has been to practice that presence and acceptance.” 

– Naomi, Canada, Unsettled: Tuscany, Nicaragua, BVI Sailing & Baja Sailing Alum

“I have learned that social distancing while taking a hit on my calendar has actually given me the time to connect more deeply and more frequently with those in my close circles and also reconnect with those in far flung circles in my network. My dad passed away from COVID-19 in March and if I thought I was doing a good job connecting with people before that, I was in for a rude awakening after. After word of his passing got out, I didn’t need to do any reaching out, because I was overwhelmed by those reaching out to me. From those in my close circles to executives I’ve never met in my company to people I haven’t seen since high school. And I’ve strategically taken this opportunity to reach back out: have a conversation or a virtual cocktail hour and learn something new, share a memory, share a laugh, and perhaps learn how we might help each other. And for that I am incredibly grateful to have learned who I can rely on during a time when it feels like we can’t rely on much.” 

– Lisa, USA, Unsettled: Barcelona, Porto, Baja Sailing, Sacred Valley, and January Virtual Retreat Alum

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