As the semester sprints towards the finish line, I stretch out my arms, opening up to new familiars as I feel the soreness of my second COVID-19 shot.
My Spotify account dings day after day, informing me of the new melodic and exhilarating announcements of tours, albums and singles from my favorite artists.
I look to Facebook, seeing my friends announcing engagements or going to each other’s weddings. I smile at their happiness and wish them all the best, for I can’t even imagine being around that many loved ones on a single day in these pandemic-filled times.
My email is all full of internship rejections, but I hear from my colleagues about their summer plans with programs they’ve been dreaming of. I look within, hoping something comes along for myself, but I always end up just congratulating peers on their exciting news. They’ll be off in new environments, even some out of the country. It seems almost impossible after all that’s happened.
Instagram is full of new beginnings as more and more people get their second doses and endure the succeeding two-week waiting period. I see travel, positive pregnancy tests, old friends meeting up for a weekend and mask-less faces.
It’s like the pandemic never happened, or at least some things are going back to the ways they were.
I think of what the fall will be like, or what my senior year of college will turn out to be like. I think we can all agree that this was the most insane, delirious and whacked year in a long time. Frankly, I’m terrified of what the “new normal” will be, because masks are normal right now. Sanitizing every surface is normal. Being overly critical of how close people stand to you in the checkout line is normal.
When all those signs, floor stickers, and sanitizing stations are gone, will the world feel emptier? Will the floors, then sticker-less, seem cleaner or more open? I am not saying that the pandemic will be over anytime soon, but it may be one day. And when that day comes, we won’t be going back to “normal”. We’ll be going back to old ways instead.
And yet, going back to the old ways of how our lives ran seems new, different and completely wrong. I’ve grown so accustomed to the pandemic life of seclusion, being distanced and concealing facial emotions along with internal emotions as usual that it seems like I’m changing into a whole new person. Then again, the person I was before COVID-19 is not the same person I am today, so with all the new familiars coming back, maybe I’ll see a familiar version of myself; someone with stronger mental health, greater confidence and less anxiety about the future.