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.
Be kind to yourself. We are social beings and this pandemic is proving to test not only our relationships with others, but also our relationships with ourselves.
We all make decisions during this pandemic that can help us cope with the knowledge that we do not control much – just ourselves and our reactions to things.
All of that is to say – I won’t judge you, friend!
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