After the Shot
Photo by Steven Cornfield on Unsplash

I received my second COVID vaccine shot yesterday, and I am grateful.  A wave of emotions flowed through me as I waited the requisite 15 mins before heading back to my apartment. The overwhelming feelings were joy and sadness.  Joy for now being as virally protected as possible, and sadness because others — many, many others — don’t know when they’ll receive the same protection. Another feeling that rushed in was confusion. While I was experiencing relief, I was also experiencing a digging in.

The urge to bust out and enjoy activities “out there” didn’t come with the same strong sentiment as gratitude. Feelings of hesitancy crept in leaving me a little surprised and incredulous.

To date, I’ve been receiving all meals delivered to my apartment at my senior living complex and, when I want to join my partner for a meal, we move to a common area that allows us to safely distance, just the two of us. I’ve shopped online and attended virtual classes, holiday celebrations, and meetings. I also subscribe to enough entertainment channels (too many!) to watch any type of entertainment I want instantaneously whether it’s a concert, stage performance, or first run movie. I have a large pipeline to our local library and can get anything I want to read at any time.

With the end of “Stay Home” in sight, however, I’ve felt turbulence going forward.

What does the future look like? Do I have to fill up my calendar as I did before? Do I have to get fluffed and fruffed every single day to take meals in the complex’s dining room or can I let my mask continue to hide a lack of make-up? Do I have to drive and hike to classes out in the community and interact with others when I’d prefer to receive the information without the input of students sitting right next to me? I know, crazy thoughts, huh?!?  Or are they?

Lots of my friends are in a similar situation as I am, and many are feeling they’ve got the being sequestered thing all figured out. They’ve learned to cope with Zoom, FaceTime, other social media, ordering groceries and/or meals delivered, taking online classes, and watching the latest movies, plays, and other live entertainment online too. All this from the comfort of their homes.

There are many of us who’ve adapted so well we might remain right where we are for longer than is required to stay healthy. Some are saying forever, which seems too permanent for me. At the same time, a large congregation of seniors have struggled with being cooped up, unable to see extended family and friends. This past year has been extremely difficult for them. These elders can’t get out soon enough!

It hasn’t been all “leave me alone, I’m doing fine” for everyone.

Whatever the case going forward, I feel sure most of us are feeling tentative, unwilling to commit to a hectic or uncontrolled lifestyle we may have embraced before. Like me, many want to tip toe back in to the ‘real world’ and see how each tentative step feels before proceeding. That may mean staying indoors longer, blaming the reticence on being in a high-risk category for that unprotected 5% or for fear of new variants.

In your case, returning to the outside world may be something entirely different. Please give yourself permission to re-enter society as it is safe to do so at your own pace (with continued face mask and distancing precautions). Don’t let the choices of one of your friends or family members or work cohorts dictate what happens after your final shot.

In return, be as generous to others who are not moving at your pace. Don’t give them grief or make them feel lame if they want to stay home longer or vice versa. Recently, I texted a friend saying I hope she’d decide to get the vaccine because I wanted to be able to spend time with her up close. You know what? She felt this as pressure to move at a pace she’s not ready to embrace. And, now that I think of it her way, I can see how she felt.

We’re all different. Honor that difference as you receive your last shot.