Earlier this week, some friends and I were talking about how this time three years ago, everything was starting to change. We were all being told to work from home (and to stay home, if possible!), and there was just so much uncertainty about what was going on. Looking back at my posts on Instagram and at my texts to friends was really a wild ride – it’s kind of hard to imagine myself back in that place! It’s made me feel kind of introspective this week, though, and I thought I’d share a little bit here.
It’s kind of hard, even now, for me to believe how much my life has changed over the last three years. I genuinely think back to the me three years ago and can’t believe it – in many ways, my world was so, so much bigger. I commuted and worked in a physical office every day! I went out to a lot more restaurants and coffee shops and saw so many concerts and shows a year. I had just bought a Drybar subscription because of how many times a month I was getting my hair done! In 2019, I had traveled to Dallas to be on AT&T’s Advisory Panel on Access and Aging, spoken at a conference in Ohio State, and taken trips to Philadelphia, DC, and Bethlehem. I had a lot going on, and it’s honestly hard to imagine living that life again after the last three years.
I know that everyone has been affected by COVID, but sometimes I think it’s hard for people who aren’t disabled/immunocompromised/at higher risk to really understand the reality of my life, three years into it. I still have to go through risk calculus every time I want to go out and do something fun. I have to decide how safe I think it will be, and if it’s worth the risk. Even hanging out with friends involves gently prying into their lives and what they’ve been up to recently. I have really great friends who get it, but it’s still frustrating to still be having these talks! I spend more time at my house now than I ever could have possibly imagined I would. I am an introvert, so being here with my own company doesn’t bother me – but it’s the fact that I can’t work from a coffee shop for four hours if I wanted to that does bother me.
I know lots of people are back to living a pre-COVID life, and I am not trying to come across as judging anyone – but it can be hard to watch, sometimes! Hard to see huge events and gatherings where no one is wearing a mask, or hear people talk about the pandemic in the past tense. Because as much as I’d love to live like COVID is no longer a risk, that doesn’t change the fact that it could still land me and my extremely weak lungs in the hospital. The more and more I see people return to their “normal” lives, the harder it gets for me to exist peacefully in my little bubble.
I don’t necessarily want to go back to my life in 2019, but I don’t want to stay cooped up for the rest of my life, either. Some of the changes have been nice. I love working from home, and I’m so much happier and healthier and more productive not going into the office every day. Being physically isolated made me expand my online communities, and I’ve made some incredible friends online that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. I definitely am better rested than I was in 2019, and I love that. But I want to keep these changes and get some of my old, in person life back too.
There’s no good wrap up to this post, because there’s no real closure in sight for me. Everything still feels like one giant question mark, with no real answers ahead for me. I’ve never thought of myself as a patient person, but these three years do seem like a giant test of my patience, and of my willingness to let go of control and live day by day. And they’ve made me realize how resilient I am too, because I still do have hope that there’s a time in the not-too-distant future when I can resume more of my life, stress-free. Really, that’s what the last three years have been – a lot of stress and worry, but mixed in with hope, too. It’s gotten me through this far, and I just have to… hope that it gets me through whatever’s ahead, too.