As we venture into this new phase of life with vaccines, I have found myself reacting differently than I thought I would. I had assumed that a lot of pressures and anxieties would be lifted, but the strange reality is that I am now experiencing new anxieties in how to navigate this new post-vaccine world. I can still remember the first time last year when I went to a shop wearing a mask and feeling so confused and uncomfortable. That memory feels like it happened a lifetime ago but also like it was yesterday. At that time, not much was known but all the experts were stating that masks were the answer.
Since then, COVID-19 has evolved so much and so much has been learned. Throughout these past months, I would constantly tell myself that I could not wait for things to go back to normal and live mask-free. But as we enter this new “normal” and the government is saying that vaccinated people can be mask-free outside, I find myself struggling to feel comfortable in the ways of the old normal. I want to be a responsible citizen and follow the guidelines, but at times, I feel like they are changing so quickly. The other day I went to a restaurant, and they had a sign stating that if you had been vaccinated, you did not need to wear a mask. It was the first time I had seen that sign and it felt weird. Part of me knew that I was allowed to be maskless and that it was safe, but another part of me felt super uncomfortable and I had an overwhelming feeling that I was doing something wrong.
It’s strange how in such a short amount of time so many feelings and attitudes change and develop. As time passes and more people get vaccinated, I hope those anxieties dissipate. I think it is important to remember life pre-COVID, but to acknowledge this new normal may reflect the past but will be different in so many ways.