Is this the point when we can look back and say it was like a bad dream?
When businesses, schools and workplaces had to close. When there was debate over what was considered essential services. When everything that could suddenly went online and things that we never thought were possible or normal suddenly became widespread and rampant.
I remember the early days of our country’s version of a lockdown, and I feel terrible to admit… I remembered feeling happy.
Ok, relieved, to be exact.
I was relieved that I didn’t have to deal with the pressure of showing up at work after crying for most of the night. I was relieved that I didn’t have to use extra energy to function outside of home. I was relieved that I didn’t have to deal with the anxiety with what people thought of me so much, because.. There were no people to deal with, for some time at least. I was so thankful that the bar of what it meant to be a functioning human being had been lowered and felt much more attainable for a period of time.
And of course I felt terrible for having felt this way because I also knew people were suffering. Dying. Families were unable to be united across borders. Livelihoods were being lost. Frontline personnel were being suffocated. And yet, I felt relieved that I didn’t have to physically go to work.
Over the next 2 years, I realise I wanted that sweet spot. The sweet spot of the pandemic still being a THING – so that we couldn’t open up fully, but being able to open up enough so that we could do the minimally normal things like going out for a meal, meeting some people (Eg: Therapists) and have small-enough gatherings.
And now that the restrictions are slowly but surely disappearing, I am frankly quite terrified.
Because it means that there’re no more excuses not to have workplace gatherings, face-to-face meetings, to conduct large-scale projects, to have to go on staff retreats and bonding sessions, and company DnDs. It means there’s socially acceptable reason why people should be having lunch alone, or why we should not be seated around a communal table.
And I feel terrible that I am feeling this resistance around things going back to normal, because it’s what everybody has been working so hard for over the past 2 years. It’s what everybody should want… right?
I think the real issue is that I need to stop using the pandemic as an excuse to embrace what I want.
I don’t need a pandemic to help me protect my personal space and downtime during lunch. I can set up those boundaries myself.
I don’t need a pandemic to happen to only make myself available for selected gatherings and meetups. I know which types of interactions are most meaningful for me, and what kind of people recharge, rather than drain me.
I don’t need a pandemic to rationalise my energy levels and how much I want to put out there in the world. I can embrace how much I want to give, how much I need to rest, and what’s the optimal level of functioning for me.
I can learn to do all that. Myself. Without needing a pandemic.
Here I am.