Somehow, some way, what we’re all going through with this pandemic has brought us down to survival mode. For myself, I hid in my apartment when I first lost my job. It wasn’t a decision made necessarily as much as it was a matter of going on autopilot and my mind answering its own question of “how am I going to get through the other side of this?” So I hunkered down in comfy clothes and stuck to what I know: Marvel movies, Bob’s Burgers, and snacking.
When most of my friends reached out to me and vice versa, I got used to the basic small talk and niceties before anything else came up. When we asked each other how we were, it was a loaded question. We all knew what the person meant when they asked. It’s not basic because how we were feeling was not even close to those words: “fine”, “alright”, “okay”. Then there were the few who put up a front that they were doing great. It may have been under false pretenses of COVID being “the flu but worse” or they were still working so life wasn’t all that different or they didn’t want to admit that this was causing anxiety. When I talked to those in particular, the ones that downplayed how they’re feeling, I found myself saying the same words and trying to send the same message: we’re allowed to feel the way that we do.
We are absolutely allowed to be upset and angry, still. Even months and months later, we’re allowed to grieve the loss of our safety. There’s no reason to hide the fact that we’re scared for ourselves and our loved ones. The wonderful silver lining in the midst of all this chaos is that we don’t have to be 100%. You can say you’re not okay if you’re not because someone is going to understand and more so, empathize. When life is rushed, how many times have we looked for an excuse for the mistakes we’ve made or the validation to feel tired. Now, especially now, it’s okay to be messy and out of sorts or be incomplete.
Considering how differently normal has become, it’s alright. Thoughts before leaving the house are different: phone, keys, hand sanitizer, mask. Or when a friend asks you to hang out at their house: “how many other people are going to be there?” “are they vaccinated?” Or even trying to get away for a weekend: “I need COVID test. Do I need a PCR or does a rapid suffice? Would I have to quarantine? Is it safe with the Delta variant around now?” Unfortunately, this is the now and new normal thought process as something as simple as ordering take out. Contactless delivery, sanitizing our hands after using an ATM, and wondering if you should wear a mask to your local supermarket.
It’s essential to stay strong, to continue to see the light at the end of this dark tunnel. Of course, it’s important to stay safe, stay positive, and keep close to our loved ones. It’s necessary to keep to what we know and what keeps us stable and comfortable during this scary and uncomfortable time. However, it is of utmost importance that we acknowledge and validate how we’re still feeling after all this time and that maybe owning up to that: the mess, the imperfection, and the unsteady breath at the end of the day. It’s how we’ll get through this. The mess will clean itself up; the imperfection is actually quite perfect; the unsteady breath reminds us we’re still breathing. So keep breathing.