There’s a lot of things I miss doing, things I could only safely do before the pandemic. I miss making a trip to the library to study, or a café, instead of the few steps between my bed and my desk. I miss public events like concerts and showcases. (I know a few of these things have occurred throughout the pandemic, but my caution made me refrain from attending.) I miss going out with my friends. And it makes me exhausted, to feel so nostalgic for a life that used to be mine, a life that everyone promises will come again when we “get back to normal”.
I received my Covid booster shot today. I’m not a particularly vulnerable member of the population, but I do carry the mindset that it’s better to be safe than sorry. It feels like I’m doing my part to keep myself and the others around me safe. I’m actually very fortunate that neither me nor my mom – we share the same household – have contracted the virus. It’s been a long two years, and despite a few instances of exposure, we’ve both been blessed with health.
It’s still scary though. The Omicron variant is the most infectious variant yet. Quarantine periods are being shortened. Students are expected to keep going to school and workers are expected to keep showing up to every shift. We’re being pushed back into our “normal” lifestyle with the same risk of infection. Despite being triple vaccinated, social distancing, quarantining, wearing masks, wearing two masks at a time, we’re still at risk.
Am I the only one that feels defeated? Helpless? It feels like no matter what I do to stay safe and keep others safe, it might never be enough. The virus changes and adapts, poses new threats while we are still trying to overcome previous ones. I’ll admit, even though I try my best and heed their word, it’s often difficult and confusing to keep up with health guidelines on how to handle the continued pandemic. There’s a sadness in me too, that so many people are experiencing loss, rapidly and across all scales. But there’s anger as well, because if I do what I consider to be “my part”, others might not have the same mindset. I can’t help but be weary of the possibility that my two years of struggle and constant vigilance might be for nothing, at the expense of someone else’s carelessness.
Despite all my big feelings, I know that these things are all out of my control. There’s nothing I can do about needing to go to work. There’s not much I can do when someone coughs in my face at the register. There’s not much that I can do about the lives that have already been lost. I also can’t change other people’s actions. All these things are out of my hands.
But what is in my control? Certainly, I can be accountable for my actions and continue to take protective measures like masking, social distancing, and getting boosted. I can also work towards maintaining communication with my family and friends. I miss them so much, but it’s not like they went anywhere. We just have to find ways to connect without physically getting together. Most importantly, I can move through life with a compassionate attitude. I won’t be able to stop myself from feeling things like sadness or frustration. It simply doesn’t work that way. However, I can match that feeling of helplessness with compassion and understanding, compassion for myself and others, and understanding that I’m not the only person floundering for solid ground, even two years in. It’s okay if you’re tired of the pandemic. I am too.