The past year and a half has presented our society with countless challenges. Once the initial shock of the COVID-19 pandemic passed, we were faced with uncertainty and had to involuntarily adapt our lives to fit the current circumstances. We were unable to see friends or family, forced to work from home and put our plans on hold. It is no wonder that almost two years later, the thought of socialization can be anxiety-inducing. While the world is not yet “normal” and most likely never will be, there is a dim light at the end of the tunnel. With restrictions lifting and the return of in-person activities, how do we transition back to our pre-pandemic lives?
I think the first thing to understand and acknowledge is that you are not alone. Everyone, regardless of how they show it, is slightly hesitant about socializing again. After learning how to get by on virtual coffee dates and socially distanced walks, it is strange to now unlearn these social skills. For me, the transition back to in-person work and school is an exciting thought, but in reality, it scares me. While the fear of contracting the virus still lingers in the air, there is now the added stress of having to be in crowded lecture halls, busy office spaces and fully functioning entertainment venues. This can be overwhelming at first, but I promise you are not the only person feeling this way.
So how do we as a society adjust back into a “normal” world? Most importantly, know your limits. If two years ago you were able to party five nights a week and function on little sleep, but now one night of drinks on the patio wipes you out, that is entirely okay. Nobody is saying that you will never be able to be that person again, you may just need some time. It is also okay if your priorities have changed and you no longer want to be the person you were two years ago. Being forced into isolation caused a lot of people to re-evaluate their lives and values. If you come out of the pandemic a different person than when you went in, that is okay.
It is more than okay to need to slowly ease yourself back into the world you used to live in. I think this will be the case for most people. Whether this means choosing one in-person class a week instead of five or having your friends over for a board game night instead of hitting the bars, it is okay to take things at your own pace. If you do choose to jump back into things headfirst and find yourself overwhelmed, do not be ashamed to take a step back.
The return to an in-person world is both an exciting and terrifying concept. As you find yourself back on campus, working out at your favourite gym, having drinks on your local patio and seeing friends you have not socialized with in a while, take a moment to appreciate how far you have come. Not only are you living through a global pandemic, but you have also come out the other side stronger. While things are nowhere near over, they are looking up.