There are glimmers of hope for us all at the moment. Here in the UK, the vaccination programme is progressing at pace. We have staggered dates for the ‘return to normal’ and the vast majority of people are counting down to June 21st, the hugely anticipated date when, hopefully, all legal limits on social contact can be removed (I would suggest a little caution in believing that this is the date when we do return to ‘normal’, though let’s save that for another post…).
This return to ‘normal’ (or ‘a new normal’ as it is frequently being badged) has already started with children returning to schools. It will continue by allowing us to slowly see more family and friends. Thankfully, it will allow shops, pubs and restaurants to throw open their doors once more, whilst we should see people gradually returning to workplaces, albeit seemingly differently to how they once did.
I can’t wait to strap on my guitar and play live music for people again. Just being able to hug my mum & dad will likely be a lump-in-the-throat moment, whilst getting to see friends and other family members in the flesh again will be amazing. Never again will I take for granted the ability to load the car up on a weekend morning and head a little further afield to discover new places. Heading out for that first family meal will seem like a monumental event. Despite having been to hundreds of music and comedy gigs over the years, those first one or two this year will be taken in with the giddy enthusiasm of a child on Christmas morning. These moments simply cannot come soon enough.
Yet, despite all this, a part of me is also a little anxious about the return to normal. About returning to work and, subsequently, getting back to busy public transport and a bustling major city centre. About returning to a busier lifestyle – I’ve enjoyed the increased family time and, for example, the opportunity to watch all 3 hours of Avengers: Endgame at the drop of a hat when my daughter suggests it (as we did yesterday afternoon), without needing to weigh up just what else I had to do at that time before making a decision. About getting back to larger social gatherings and therefore heading back to certain situations which have caused me anxiety issues in the past.
It’s a really, really strange clash of emotions for me, On the one hand, I can’t wait to do all those positive things I’ve listed above. On the other hand, I’m definitely a little anxious about steaming headlong into that previous life, or a version of it. At this stage, anxiety isn’t kicking in to a huge extent, though the feelings are certainly gently bubbling under the surface.
There are also elements of the past 12 months which I’ll really miss, such as having much more time at home with my wife and daughter, being able to walk Rosie (my Jack Russell) around the local golf course without being chased off (I know we shouldn’t but we’re always respectful of the ground and it’s a lovely walk), and the couple of hours extra I’ve had each weekday where I’ve been able to spend the time being productive rather than joining the rest of the zombie horde on the daily commute to and from work.
To conclude, in answering my own question in the title of this post, I know that there are others who are experiencing similar feelings and are a little anxious right now. I’ve seen and heard it said, either explicitly or implicitly, quite a few times by different people over recent weeks. So, what can those of us who feel like that do? I’m not entirely sure until we reach that point in time though I’m hoping to take things easy and to not rush back into things. The proverb slow and steady wins the race certainly applies here for me. I’m guessing that will be the default way back for most of us anyway but it’s important to take time over things; to gradually return to ‘normal’, to carefully review the situation, determine how it’s making us feel, and do what is best for us. Also, if you do feel the same way as me, don’t feel obliged to accept every invitation that will inevitably come your way. There will be much to catch up on, with many people – don’t feel that you have to have the busiest diary of your life over the summer months this year. If you need to suggest later dates for catch-ups, meals, nights out, or any other gathering, please do so. Your friends and family members will likely understand. Ultimately, do whatever feels right for you. If none of this applies to you, please be aware that it will likely be the view of someone you know.
As always, thanks for reading, stay safe, and please do try to be kind to others and to yourself.
Best wishes and take care.