Is anyone else finding it awkward or uncomfortable to move back into the world after this past year and a half of pandemic life? I thought it would be easier. Instead, I’ve had unexpected feelings about it.
Firstly, I’m anxious when I’m inside a public place. I’m what I call an extroverted-loner so this has never been a problem for me before. I could go anywhere completely on my own, and could chat with almost anyone. Now, not having shopped for anything other than groceries for a long time, I hesitate to touch things in stores. I’m easily overwhelmed. Talking through masks makes it hard to read people, especially people you don’t know, so I can’t comfortably speak to store staff or engage in casual conversation in public.
Secondly, I find socializing exhausting. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love seeing friends and family, and spending time catching up. I’m just super tired afterwards. Physically and mentally. Nothing a nap can’t fix so it’s not a huge problem, but I miss my old self sometimes.
Thirdly, I’m feeling that we’re missing – no, have missed – the opportunity we were presented for real change. We longed so ardently for aspects of our pre-COVID lives that, at the first opportunity, many of us are embracing all of it again, without question: capitalism, environmental destruction (caused by capitalism), consumerism, taking workers once “essential” for granted again (how many are now making better wages than before?), governments gearing up for elections – it’s all unfolding like cloth with stubbornly deep creases. Devastated as we were by months of unreal pandemic life, we now seem to be abandoning the insights gained, and the changes that we saw were feasible.
On the glass-half-full side, there have been some significant awakenings.
People are newly aware that things need to change for a better world. People who were never engaged in mutual aid in their communities or struggling alongside neighbours, are now engaging and many are rising up against long standing injustices.
It’s worth reminding ourselves that much of the social good they said we could never afford was made possible during the pandemic. This has led to a wider collective understanding of each other’s struggles, a realization that emerged in part due to being subjected to factors beyond our control. It illuminated the fact that this is reality for many in life, pandemic or not. People can’t always just “pick themselves up by their boot straps” as many of us could not do during this crisis.
Adapting: sweet set up for sleeping in my car for visiting overnight.
Adapting: Seedy Saturday 2021 was unique.
We’ve witnessed that there are social contracts, like vaccinations, that we can agree to take part in, not only for our own protection but for the good of the larger community, and indeed, the world.
We’ve discovered how adaptable and creative we can be to overcome isolation.
Also, I’ve been encouraged to see so many people willing to re-evaluate their relationship to wage work, to what a successful life really is, and what makes us truly happy.
I’m hopeful that we don’t lose sight of what we’ve learned about ourselves individually and collectively.
Returning to my “Reset”, this is what I’m reminding myself as we slowly move to pre-pandemic times. Of course, everyone’s circumstances are different, but these may be ideas that would work for others.
1- Resist the urge to jump back into a busy life. Cherish what you’ve learned about the comfort and peace you’ve found in being alone and slowing down.
2- Reflect on the good habits and the bad habits that developed during this crisis. Wean yourself from the negatives, or unhealthy ones now. Replace them with better ones. Then celebrate the positive things you began doing to make the crisis bearable and roll those into your new post’ish’ pandemic life.
3- Reassess your need for wage work, if that is financially possible. Or at least, question how much you need, your spending, and budget for the things you really want to do.
That’s it for now. Next time, I’ll likely write about how my plans are coming together for my 700km Island Walk in Prince Edward Island starting early September.
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Thanks for reading. Christine