For those of you without ties to friends, colleagues, or family in Europe, I feel like I should share with you what it has been like for me as I watch Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
I work for a global digital agency, with colleagues around the world. I’ve grown close to these colleagues over the past 7 years, colleagues I consider friends. This global reach, and exposure to different cultures and perspectives is one of my favorite aspects of working at 10up. We kicked off a company-wide conversation last week discussing who is most impacted, or likely to be impacted so we could make sure to remove work from their concerns as they looked to ensure their families were safe from attack. Safe from war.
I started my day at work yesterday learning about a Polish colleague and friend who wouldn’t be able to complete his tasks due to the need to volunteer at their border with Ukraine in support of refugees coming into Poland. I reached out this morning to folks in Europe to check on our colleagues based in Ukraine. My friends in Europe are researching and memorizing bomb shelter locations near them in case things escalate and move beyond Ukraine, and I’m sure are considering if/when they need to consider evacuating their homes. If you want to feel helpless, check on people you know and/or work with from thousands of miles away, when those people are in the middle of a war. You want to make your work tasks seem irrelevant, have these conversations over your morning coffee while looking at your todo list. Focusing on deadlines, and contracts, and website strategies seem pretty irrelevant through this lens.
Yesterday, my son turned 10. While I tried my hardest to celebrate him, I consistently found myself on Twitter keeping tabs on folks closer to the realities in Ukraine. I am constantly torn about how much I share about what is going on, and why, and who is in immediate danger. One of his best friend’s mother is Ukrainian, and we talk about the fact his friend has family in immediate danger, and we feel he needs to be aware of this, but also understand he shouldn’t have to be able to process this, he’s 10. I can’t even process it, and I’m 43. I find myself thinking about what I would do if this happened here. And then I realize how close to unrest it felt like just a year ago when our own nation’s capitol was under attack. But even as uncomfortable as that day was, no one was firing missiles into apartment buildings in our major cities. We talked to him about what was going on then, and why, and we will continue to talk to him about what is going on around the world, and why. We hope these discussions will prepare him for the realities of the world, and to question the things he’s seeing until he can truly grasp why they are occurring.
I realize it is hard for some folks without ties to these regions to understand the reality of what is happening when you only see it on TV, or social media. I can tell you when you talk directly to people who are trying to balance their work, with their preparations for war, it puts all of your personal frustrations and worries into perspective. And I hope if you ever find yourself in this situation, you tell the person on the other line to step away from work completely, and take care of yourself and your loved ones. Keep those in Ukraine and Europe in your thoughts, they are going through something we hope we never have to.