A New New Normal

Tennessee announced this week that Tennesseans 16 and up will be eligible to sign up for a vaccine appointment no later than April 5. Many people I know have already gotten at lease one dose of theirs, and as the weather warms up, my social calendar is starting to get crowded already.

One one very large hand, I’m thrilled. I’m so ready to get my shot. Once we both have it, my husband and I are planning on blowing our entire monthly grocery budget on nothing but restaurants. (Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but only a small one.) Also, no less than THREE people I haven’t seen in forever just moved to my city, so I obviously have to get together with all of them. My sister’s been begging me to go to her favorite bar with her for months, we need to visit all the in-laws, and we’re talking about planning a real vacation for the fall. I am ready to do things and see people and go places.

But on the other hand, I’m dreading the opening up of life. To be honest, I kind of feel like I just got used to pandemic life and the new rhythm we had to create because of it. I have five or six unpublished drafts from the late summer and fall of last year, where I just had to lament and complain and work through the anxiety of the pandemic. I always have delayed emotional reactions to big events, and it took almost five months of changing our routine for all that to bubble up to the surface. Last year was really hard, and it was made harder by the fact that I felt like many people around me weren’t taking the pandemic seriously. I felt like an over-reactor or a stick in the mud.

I also got used to being at home. Pre-pandemic, my husband and I both would get restless on the weekends. Often we’d find ourselves walking aimlessly around the mall just to get out of the house. With the pandemic, we got much more practice staying home (and our yard is starting to look a lot nicer because of it). The excess time at home made me think harder about how I want to actually spend my time intentionally, and some of my habits have changed. Some of my priorities are different.

I don’t know exactly when my husband will go back into the office, but it will be this year. I’m dreading that, even though it’s not me. I’m excited and happy for him, of course, because I know he’s missed his coworkers and being around people during the day. It will be great for his mental health to go back. But we’ll have to create a whole new routine. Now that we have a dog, we’ll have to make sure she’s taken care of before we leave. I’m also worried about our cats; one of them has a health issue that flares up when he gets stressed, and I’m concerned that the change in routine will trigger a flare. I know that all my pets will be fine and they’ll settle into the new routine in a month or two, but changes in routine stress me out as much as it does them. It takes me forever to adjust.

As we get closer to being able to do all the things, I am planning on trying to have at least one weekend a month with no plans. I know I need that time to recharge, and when I don’t do that, I check out in other areas of life. I hope that even with a return to “normalcy,” I can retain the benefits of the slower, more mindful, more empathetic life that I’ve cultivated within the chaos.

Is anyone else having mixed feelings about life opening back up??

To end on a more uplifting note, one benefit of post-pandemic life is getting to meet some of the book club friends I’ve only previously talked to online. :)

6 comments

  1. You’re not the only one with concerns about adjusting to post-vaccine life. I’d suggest creating a plan and taking things slow. If you’re used to going out once a week, try going out twice a week and do this for a month or two. Once you get more comfortable, add another one. Treat it like an experiment to find a sweet spot where you’re adjusting to the new normal while not over-extending yourself. Hope this helps :)

  2. I don’t need to worry just yet. Pennsylvania is still crawling through the 1A population and hasn’t set any target dates beyond that. Because my life barely changed at the start of the pandemic, I don’t expect much change at the end. If I have a concern it’s that all these extroverts are going to be planning big lavish get togethers that I’ll need to endure.

    • Well, part of the reason TN is opening it up is because many Tennesseans aren’t opting to get vaccinated so there’s a surplus of appointments. Disappointing, but not surprising. At least now I can rely on my own choice to get it, rather than relying on others to wear their masks to help protect me. Ha – I’ll be enduring some of those too but I think I will appreciate it a lot more.

  3. It’s weird that life is slowly starting to normalize again, and it’s terrifying at the same time! I’ve already gotten my first dose vaccine, and I’ll be getting my second one in April so that does put my mind at ease a teeny tiny bit. But still. . .

    • Congrats on your vaccine! I know my anxiety will reduce a lot when I get mine. But I also can’t un-know how many people in my world basically pitched fits about wearing masks, and that has shifted my perspective on people a ton. I am coming out of this liking/respecting a lot of people I know a lot less. (And conversely, liking/respecting others more.)

    • I agree. To the people that complain: Just wear the mask! If you want this to be over, just put your mask on in public. It’s not that hard.

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