I can’t decide which is stranger: that a global pandemic happened (and continues on, despite how so many act and think). Or, that we here in America are pretending that it’s over and we can move on as if nothing happened; as if we learned nothing from such a devastating pandemic. Like many personal posts on this blog, I just need a space to…process all of this. I am feeling a lot of “post” pandemic pressures and anxiety surrounding them–and a lot of that anxiety doesn’t make a lot of sense.
I’m very lucky. My pandemic experience wasn’t nearly as hard as so many. I was able to work remotely for the past year and some change. I’m employed, never got sick and am fully vaccinated. My student loans are still on hold, so I’ve been paying off other debt.
Sure, my partner was unemployed for most of the pandemic. That was hard. My family got COVID and that was terrifying. My mental health? Plummeted. My faith in humanity is practically non-existent at this point. For how can I faith in anything when all I’ve seen in the past year has been nothing but selfishness, greed and a truly shocking lack of empathy? But, no one I love died.
All in all, my pandemic experience wasn’t one where I can complain.
Yet, ever since the vaccine rollout here in the States, we’ve started as a society to act like it’s over. Only 40% of our population are fully vaccinated at the moment. Where I live, we are almost at 53%, yet our risk level is still at a medium.
June 1st, I went back to working in person at the university. The mask mandate was lifted for the country, so counties, businesses and individuals quickly followed suit–including my university, just days before our busiest time of the year: orientation. Hundreds of students and family members, traveling from all across the country, will be meeting with us over the summer.
Perhaps I’m just timid, now. I’m not sure. But the idea that the privledged luxury of working remote is being taken away so we can “go back to normal” rubs me the wrong way. Especially when we’re still at an immediate risk. I’m not ready to eat inside restaurants. Yet when I pick up take out, there are large groups gathered outside, waiting their turn in the rush. There are less masks at the grocery store.
It’s like everyone just expects us all to forget the past year. The lessons we could have learned, about public health, respect and, most importantly, overdue accessibility changes. Hell, perhaps that’s exactly what society wants. Personally, I hate it. I hate the rush to return to a normal that we should be fighting to reimagine and improve, instead of running back to. I hate that masks were politicized. So now, when I wear mine, it’s viewed as many different statements: an anti-vaxxer, my political affiliation, marking me as someone who is “addicted to the pandemic,” as some right-wing outlets have claimed; instead of simply being a symbol of solidarity, a message of, “Hey, I care about your health, those you love and mine.”
So, I still have some anxiety about America’s view of rushing back to normal as soon as possible. And yet, my desire to travel for upcoming cons in the fall is strong. Getting together with friends and family is wonderful. And I am so thankful we are making strides to get everyone vaxxed.
But I am also wary. I’m disheartened. And I’m torn, feeling some days safe and ready, while others feeling like we’ll never be safe again.
So, friends, if you’re feeling similar “post” pandemic pressures, you’re not alone. I’m not really sure what the “end” of this post is, only that I’m not quite sure where I stand, yet. I’d love to hear how you’re navigating this!