It’s a bizarre time in history.
We have come to view each other as potential vectors of disease, becoming suspicious of our neighbors, colleagues, closest friends, and family. “How careful are you?” “Have you been vaccinated?” “Are you out in public yet?” We are social creatures by design and have had to morph into a Monty Python sketch, “And now for something completely different.” Different, indeed.
Are we longing for re-emergence into the world? Are we afraid? Have we become more selective in who we want to see, invest in, and share precious time with? In situations like serious illness, the profound impact of a death, divorce, and more, “weeding” often occurs. It seems that the extreme challenges of these life-altering circumstances give us an extra measure of insight. What stays, and what goes?
It was 60-degrees and sunny this morning. The yellow of the daffodils and forsythia were brilliant. My green thumbs were itching, ready to dig and plant. I’m ready to commune with Mother Nature and beautify my small portion of the planet. Later in the day, the clouds rolled in, and it became a grey, chilly, breezy day. My mood shifted in the blink of an eye. I need the sun, the motivation, the impetus to re-engage.
I’ve made social plans with a few people I hadn’t seen since pre-COVID. We had dinner and enjoyed each other’s company, unmasked. It was great but felt odd – as if I were taking a chance. I only dine with vaccinated folks yet still feel like I am “breaking protocol.” It may take us time to recalibrate around the whole “social scene.” Much is being (and will continue to be) written about the impact of COVID-19 on our psyche. Think of the weddings held in groups of 10, the funerals postponed, new babies seen through windows… so many missed opportunities.
Re-establish your tribe.
Little by little, while still maintaining our safety, we need to replace fear with engagement. While we are grateful for screen time, without which we would surely have suffered more, we long for reconnection. When the opportunity to participate comes, perhaps it won’t feel as “normal” as you hoped. You may still feel afraid and vulnerable. In all honesty, many of us do. Our feelings of uncertainty will remain until we rebuild our confidence and sense of personal safety.
When you’re ready to make plans with friends and family but still feel anxious about gathering, make yourself a checklist:
Am I afraid?
Why am I anxious?
What are my risks?
What can I do to stay safe?
Can I be honest about my feelings with the people I am going to see
Can I start slowly and work my way to a longer visit?
We have little control over much of life but certainly have control of how we manage our re-entry. The obvious option is to re-engage in a way that works for you. Find a place of comfort and claim it. Once you put your toe in the water, you may find it easier and easier to tolerate and even…enjoy.
The sun will come out tomorrow…and the day after that.
Be gentle with yourself AND others. If you are ready to roll and have no hesitancy about social interaction, be patient with those who don’t share your position. We are all a little bruised from this past year and move forward with differing levels of confidence.
The tulips will give way to roses. We all desperately need the lift. The blast of warm air, color all around us, and heat of the sun – it’s on the way. Let’s get ready…