We asked, you answered. Thanks to everyone who told us their greatest challenge right now. We got lots of responses,  ranging from “staying informed of the news without going crazy” (we hear you) to “waking up at 3 a.m. unable to get back to sleep” (That was us last night, John Ingram.)

Those who are unemployed are uber-stressed, with good reason, as are those trying to balance kids and work at home, and those who have lost loved ones and are grieving alone.

And not for the first time we’ve heard about someone new to the city who can’t meet people during the pandemic. There should be a special support group for these folks. Are you new to the city and in the same boat? Let us know.

This one from Jane Dirks is one of many that got to us: “My mother-in-law, a Spanish citizen, is in the hospital right now with a serious medical condition (not COVID-19). She is quite elderly, and we would very much like to travel to see her, but travel restrictions would make this very difficult, if not impossible. It’s a heartbreaking situation for all of us.”

We’re so sorry.

Here are more responses–some anonymous, some with names and occupation– to our question about the greatest challenge you are facing right now. Look for another question in NEXTpittsburgh early this week.

Back-to-school blues  

“Summoning up the courage to go back to teaching a full classroom of toddlers in just a few weeks. I fear for the health and safety of my students, my family and myself. It’s very hard to sleep at night with that looming over my head.” Rachel, a teacher

“Gathering the energy and motivation for the beginning of the semester — although we aren’t on campus in person, therefore the usual ‘back-to-school’ spirit is missing.”

“With schools opening virtually, my greatest challenge as a single working parent is how to care for and educate my child while keeping my job and sanity.”

“I don’t know how I can facilitate six hours of learning for my 5- and 7-year-old virtually and keep my job.”

It’s hard to plan when you own a business

“I own a 4-unit corporate lodging business. Since December my occupancy has been 0-25%. Business travel has dried up and leisure travelers think they are doing all of us in the hospitality business a favor when they ask for discounts so low to the point that we in the business would lose money. It’s getting very hard to explain to prospective guests that yes, we need money, but they cause our direct expenses to go up. And with COVID, we need to spend more time cleaning and now have a mandatory 3 days in between guests we have to block off, making us even less profitable. It’s maddening and super disrespectful. I’m moderator of the local Airbnb hosting group and this has been happening to everyone. Many people have shut down because between the super lowballing and local people looking for party space; they have no interest in even interacting with these two groups of people.”  Julie Ransom

“As a business development person, getting business without meeting people face to face is different and challenging. Not being able to network, go to events, and board meetings is really tough especially if you love people. I miss everyone. It is important to stay top of mind and always in front of your clients, prospects and vendors. You have to be creative and be up for the biggest challenge in our nation’s history.” Renee DeMichiei Farrow, Architecture Innovations

“I am extremely dissatisfied with my job but am afraid to leave it given the uncertainty that exists in the world.”

“As a Pittsburgh wholesaler of Retail and Food Service Packaging, we are at a loss to know what to expect for the upcoming holiday season. So far during the COVID shutdowns and government restrictions, many of the retailers have been largely closed and those who have reopened have not had enough business to sustain themselves if this drags on. We need to place orders for fall inventory and have no idea what, when or if retail and full-service restaurants will return to normal.” Jeff Holmes

“Providing a safe environment for employees and patients above and beyond all regulations while maintaining a viable business.” Josh Parry, dentist


“Trying to remain hopeful that we can find a way to bridge some of the fierce divides in our country. We have often been reminded during the pandemic that we are in this together. But we don’t act like it. Our president actively works against any progress toward unity. Yet the need for common action has never been greater.”

“Trying to stay informed without going crazy. There is so much negative information online, on the news. It is enough to make you want to curl up in a fetal position under your desk. I no longer watch the news. I scan news websites and pick the stories I feel I need to know more. It’s not the greatest solution but it does limit some of the negative information.”

“Ensuring the social services safety net of programs remains in place for people.” Dave Coplan

“My greatest challenge at the moment is securing work before my unemployment benefits run out. COVID has really hit the nonprofit world in which I work in and trying to find back up work while waiting to hear if I can go back to work ya been insanely difficult.” Michelle

“Navigating social situations (do I go to this party, that wedding, this person’s house, etc) and looking for a job.” Liz

“Grieving alone. My grandma passed away and we weren’t able to have a funeral. My mom lives 350 miles away and I haven’t been able to see her and hug her.”

“Isolation. I’m a widow and school teacher so this summer I learned to keep myself occupied without leaving my house.” Elizabeth Shannon

“Meeting new people. I moved into the city for a new start around May. I love this city but it’s lonely moving during a pandemic.” Dylan, sushi chef

“Balancing a relationship that started in COVID… I was lucky enough to find someone during these hard times that was stable. BUT what happens if that person doesn’t fit (or acclimate) into what my world once was or the future I am shaping it to be? Did I lie about who I was or am I just evolving away from who I was at the beginning of quarantine?”


Along with the answers, you posed a lot of questions for us to ask next which we appreciate.

One off-topic question we liked was directed to us: “How do you manage to put out an outstanding publication time after time?” It’s not easy so thanks for that.

Look forward to hearing more from you next week.

Tracy Certo

Tracy is the founder and Editor at Large of NEXTpittsburgh which she started in March 2014 and sold in December 2020. She is passionate about making Pittsburgh a better place for all and connecting people...