Are We Back To Normal Really?
States are starting to lift the COVID-19 restrictions that have been in place for over a year. More and more people are getting vaccinated. Concerts are starting to be announced. Restaurants are starting to re-open. It feels like we are getting back to normal!
But are we really? And even if things feel like they are getting back to normal, do you feel ok going back to normal?
We've all been longing for the time when we could go back to doing the things we love. And it seems like it's almost here. But does the idea of "going back to normal" seem a little scary to you?
If you are feeling some anxiety about everything right now, you aren't alone. I feel it too. Keep reading if the thought of big crowds makes your heart beat a little faster like it does mine!
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WHERE WE'VE BEEN
It's been a long year. I remember 2020 starting with so much promise! We went on our annual trip to Jamaica in January. We went to several concerts and had lots more planned for the rest of the year, including our first trip to Red Rocks.
Then the world stopped.
And it stopped abruptly. One weekend we were going to concerts and eating out at our favorite restaurants. The next weekend we were told not to leave our house.
When things first shut down, I thought it might be for a couple of weeks. Then weeks turned to months. Trips were canceled. Concerts were canceled or postponed. We learned to celebrate special occasions and holidays over Zoom.
The numbers got better. Then they got worse. Then they got better again, only to get worse one more time. It seemed like we were on this perpetual roller coaster - never knowing when it was going to end and not knowing when the next big hill to climb was coming.
THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL
In December of 2020, we finally got the news we were hoping for. There was a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of the vaccine. While many people were (and still are) skeptical, for many of us, we couldn't wait for our turn!
I got my first dose of the Moderna vaccine last month and I'm scheduled to get dose #2 later today. For me, getting the vaccine means having the ability to do things and not be nervous. It also means being able to be around my friends and family that have been vaccinated, and not have to wear a mask anymore.
We have been very cautious during all of this. We've limited the places we've gone and the things we've done, and almost completely avoided anything indoors. One of the things that I've missed most during the pandemic is being able to go to any restaurant I want - even if it's crowded inside. We've spent many Friday and Saturday nights driving looking for a place to grab dinner, and turning right back around when they have no outdoor seating or the parking lot looks packed.
THE WORLD IS STILL FULL OF MIXED MESSAGES
From the beginning of the pandemic, it seemed like every time you saw a new piece of guidance, it was full of mixed messages. For a while, people were wearing gloves to the supermarket and not bringing their mail or packages inside for days, until we learned the virus is airborne and spread that way.
As things started opening back up last spring/summer, we were told it was ok to go to a restaurant and take our masks off while we eat, but it wasn't ok to jog past someone on a trail without your mask on.
In defense of the experts trying to guide us, this virus appeared out of nowhere and spread quickly. There wasn't time to do studies or always think through the right recommendations. They had to react quickly.
I've always been someone who believed moderation and common sense were key. Unfortunately, not everyone behaved that way, which is what led to states implementing rules that sometimes seemed ridiculous.
Now that more and more people are being vaccinated, it continues to be confusing. You should wear a mask if you go out, but not if you are with people that have also been vaccinated, and not anymore if you are outside and far away from each other (and is it 6 feet or 3 feet???).
And many states have opened back up, but still have capacity limits and/or other restrictions. Yet, my Dave Matthews Band shows at the Gorge are still on???
THINGS ARE BACK, BUT HOW DO I GO BACK?
Last week, Governor Wolf just announced that he is lifting all restrictions - with the exception of the mask mandate - in Pennsylvania on Memorial Day. That means things can go back to "normal". But am I ready to go back to "things"?
Personally, I won't be ready until I am fully vaccinated. That means towards the end of the month after waiting the recommended time period after my second vaccine. Our 25th wedding anniversary is May 25th, and I have already made a reservation to have a nice dinner at one of our favorite restaurants - inside.
We also are getting on an airplane for the first time since January of 2020 at the end of the month. We have to head down to South Carolina to have the design meeting on our new home.
And, the Dave Matthews Band tour has been re-scheduled for later this summer. Our first set of tickets is for the Gorge in Washington State at the beginning of September. Will I be ready to be standing shoulder to shoulder with tens of thousands of other screaming fans? Part of me wants that feeling again so badly. But part of me gets a pit in my stomach thinking about it.
EASE ON DOWN THE ROAD MY FRIENDS!
For me, the key is going to be to ease into things gradually. I have tickets to two live shows in June - both outdoors and both socially distanced. It's a way for me to get comfortable again being at a show without having people right on top of me (which wasn't anything I liked even before the pandemic).
I'm still probably going to stick to outdoor activities and outdoor dining as much as possible this summer. It makes sense to take advantage of the nice weather while we can. But, I won't stop myself from eating inside if the situation feels comfortable to me.
And I expect that I'm going to be anxious in certain circumstances. I'm not ready to be in a big crowd. I'm not ready to be in a crowded room where no one is wearing masks. And that's ok. It took all of us a long time to adjust to pandemic life. It's ok if it takes us a while to adjust to this new "normal".
MODERATION IS THE KEY
One of the things I worry about most is that we are "flipping the switch" back to "normal" too quickly. If you have followed the news in India, you'll see a perfect example of a country that let down its guard too soon.
And as much as I hate this virus - it's taken both things and people away from me - I don't hate some of the lessons it's taught me. I was overscheduled. I was stressed. I was trying to do too much. I don't want to go back to that life.
I realized that I liked having free weekends where we could just hang out at the beach or go play golf. I realized that I don't function well on only a couple of hours of sleep because I was going to concerts several nights a week and staying out too late.
So I'm going to stick with moderation for a while. I'm looking forward to going back out into the world and not worrying the whole time that I might get sick. But I'm also not going to put myself in situations that make me uncomfortable too quickly.
I'm looking forward to being able to see some live music this summer, but I'm not going to over-schedule myself or be super anxious to be in a big crowd.
I hope to see all of you out and about somewhere soon! Stay safe everyone!
Have you gotten your vaccine yet? How are you feeling about getting back to "normal"? Let us know! Comment below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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