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Post-Pandemic and the Expectations of Others


We have the hope that the covid-19 pandemic's end is in sight ... and it's bringing up a lot of feelings. Not all of them happy

Many of us are feeling some level of anticipatory anxiety. 

The anxiety is rooted in a fear that almost all of us have, in some form or another. The fear that others will make us do something we don't want to do. Whether it is through what can feel like the aggression of "your job depends on this," or the polite friendliness of social obligations, we pre-emptively worry about being dominated. 

Look, the pandemic made saying "No" to in-person events super easy. So easy, in fact, that we didn't even have to say no, because no invitations were forthcoming. We didn't have to send regrets, we were all living in a world where responsible people didn't get together. Heck, those of us who before might feel we were being antisocial could now feel self-righteous! A win/win! 

I kid, but only a little. 

We anticipate that people will have expectations of us. Expectations that we will come into the office building, show up for church, the PTA meeting, family gatherings. Expectations that we'll put on pants. 

Combine those anticipated expectations with how we may be feeling, and it all adds up to a heaping serving of anxiety. 

We've gotten pretty accustomed to this life we've been living the past year. It may not be fun, per se, but it's familiar. And humans love familiar and fear change. 

Shame, too, may be mixed into this. Fear that we didn't "make the most" of the pandemic time. We didn't become buff like Sarah Connor in Terminator 2 or Uncle Iroh in Avatar: The Last Airbender. We didn't learn how to play violin or read A Brief History of Time. Worry that we're going to have to clean the house. 

Frankly, a lot of us are softer than we were a year ago, and our minds duller. 

Well, duh! We were going through a global pandemic! I mean, who looks back at the people who survived the London Blitz and asks, "Yeah, but how was your yoga routine during all that?" 

Give me a break. 

Give YOU a break. 

The work that is to come will be to separate out the genuine have-tos (like your boss saying you need to come back to the office, or your doctor saying no more tele-health) from the expectations of family and friends. Take it slow with the latter. Make it short social visits to start. 

And ask "why?" Why does the PTA meeting need to be in person? Why do I need to work in the office rather than at home? There were assumptions made pre-pandemic that we have proven don't hold true. Ask lots of questions. 

And know that you're not alone in this. A lot of us are sharing our anxieties. Let's make it acceptable to say, "I can come over, but just for a little bit. I don't want to get the Covid-Bends." 

And we'll all nod knowingly. 


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