Today I had another one of those weird mini breakdowns that was brought on by COVID-related stress. But it wasn’t because I was tired of not being able to do anything… It was kind of the opposite.
If I’m being perfectly honest, I have not been as careful as I was in the beginning of this pandemic. I have gone out to eat at restaurants with a couple close friends a few times, and today, in the midst of wondering when we’ll be able to see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, I realized that because of these outings, some people might not see me the same way. They might think I am reckless and/or selfish. They might think I don’t care about the virus, and that I am willing to put loved ones in danger by not staying quarantined the entire time.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. Despite my best efforts, I sometimes found myself in a mind state where I felt so alienated from the outside world that I craved companionship that felt closer to normalcy. In those moments, I happily accepted an invite out with friends so that I could reconnect with them in ways that social media couldn’t replicate: exchanging appreciative looks over delicious food, laughing at old inside jokes, and singing together enthusiastically to our favorite songs.
And today I felt guilty about that. Not just because of how others might see me, but also because I was disappointed in myself for not having enough willpower to stay at home like I’d vehemently chastised others to do back in March.
At the end of the day, I need to give myself grace. As much as I’d like to say I’m satisfied with the few moments I have had with friends, and that I will stay away from them for the duration of the pandemic, I can’t say with certainty that that’s true.
I can say that I will limit my excursions, and will quarantine myself before visiting folks that are in at-risk groups. I will continue to wear a mask when I’m out around people I don’t know, and will continue to socially distance when possible. I will continue to monitor COVID numbers in my city so that I’m not out gallivanting during a spike. And I will continue to remind myself that this situation is temporary, patience is key, and perspective is everything.