Boundaries. Currently, they come in many unique forms. Masks, gloves, and six foot distances marked on floors.

I used to believe that boundaries were something that I needed to set in order to keep myself safe. I thought that boundaries needed to be set to control other people’s behavior toward me.

One of the greatest learnings I have had in the past few years is that boundaries are simply expressing my voice about what is or is not okay for me. It’s not about control. It’s not about exerting my will. It’s not about others.

With the recent situation, I have noticed that COVID-19 can be very polarizing. Division easily happens. Those who wear masks and those who don’t. Those who stay home and those who go out. Those who socially distance and those who stand too close. Those who “take it seriously” and those who don’t want to “live in fear.”

It is within these recent discussions and observations that I realized how important boundaries are. I am not referring to the masks, gloves, or six feet. Instead, I am referring to looking within myself. I can focus on what is or is not okay for me. I don’t need to police what everyone else is doing. I can take measures to make myself feel safe, comfortable, and peaceful.

For me, it is okay to visit with people at a comfortable distance. It is not okay for me to hug people as a greeting or goodbye. For me, it is okay to wear a mask when I am in stores and public places. It is not okay for me to wipe down every item I buy. For me, it is okay to do what feels safe and comfortable to me. It is not okay to expect everyone around me to do it the way I do it.

Healthy boundaries are not meant to divide. On the contrary, we can connect on deeper and more meaningful levels. I’ve noticed that in our current situation, we are finding new ways to communicate and connect.

Maybe 6 feet stand between me and the people I meet, but I am hearing less flippant “Hi, how are you?” greetings as people rush past. I notice true eye contact and genuine wishes for well being. I’m picking up the phone more and not just sending a text. I am appreciating time with people in my life even when it comes at a distance or through a digital venue.

For today, I will listen to what I want and need around setting boundaries. I will look less toward controlling others and more toward communicating what is or is not okay for me. I will look for healthy, rich ways to connect with those in which I come in contact. I will embrace boundaries as beautiful and beneficial.

Contact Roxanne Converse-Whiting at roxanne@gothenburgleader.com, or call 308.536.6499