Like most people we know, Bill and I are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. With the exception of flying to San Diego last month (something I never would have done prior to being vaccinated), not a lot has changed for us. We still don’t eat inside restaurants, we aren’t going to the movie theater, we wear our masks religiously inside stores even if it isn’t required anymore.
Truthfully, I still have a lot of anxiety about the prospect of getting sick. Even if I caught something other than COVID, I know being ill for the first time in almost two years would freak me out. And the truth is, I like not getting sick. I really like it. If wearing a little piece of cloth over my face means I never have to suffer a stupid head cold again, it’s well worth it.
While our closest friends seem to be on the same page as us and are remaining more cautious, I know plenty of other people, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, who have tossed aside their masks and are back to their pre-pandemic way of life. When a family member or friend texts me to gloat about how amazing it felt to go shopping sans mask, I don’t really know what to say. At this stage of things, I think they’re making a mistake, but it’s not really my place to tell them so. But I also don’t understand why these people feel the need to tell me about their behavior in the first place, since they are all people who know I think it’s too soon for that.
It’s okay to be anxious about the loosened restrictions and I am not going to be pressured into changing my behavior just because the option has presented itself. I have to do what I feel is right for me and what I’m comfortable with, and that extends into who I spend my time with. After a lot of anxious consideration, I regretfully turned down an invitation to a family gathering next month because it’s being held indoors and not all of the attendees will be vaccinated. Spending an extended period of time in close quarters with unvaccinated people is not something I’m ready to do and I finally came to the conclusion that the best way to handle these situations is to just be upfront about why I don’t want to go. It doesn’t mean I don’t care about my loved ones, but it does mean that I am prioritizing myself and my health right now.
I’ve had people tell me that I need to “just live my life”, to which I say, I am! I am not a shut-in. I have game nights with vaccinated family members and friends, and Bill and I have started dining out at restaurants that offer outdoor seating (and by that I mean true outdoor seating, not a fully enclosed tent which is now effectively just a new indoor space). When I flew for the first time, I was definitely a little nervous, but overall I handled it well and I am comfortable with the idea of doing it again.
I’m not sure when I’ll be ready to try indoor dining again, or go to a movie in a theater, or attend a party when I don’t know everyone’s vaccination status. I suppose I’ll watch and wait, and see if case numbers continue to fall or if we see another surge as a result of the loosened restrictions. As for masking up, I see that being a permanent staple in my life, at least in large crowds indoors and during cold and flu season. It’s such a small thing to do that yields such great benefits that I don’t see any reason to stop. After all, being sick sucks, no matter what I’m infected with!