Sometimes when you dig deep, it forces you to embrace the shallow.
Are we still pandemic-ing? Well, we’re still asking ourselves: virtual or in-person? Work from home or at the office? Curbside or delivery? Surprise– buying a new planner did not erase the events of 2020. They spilled over the gridlines of December and bled right into January. But we can keep doing this, right?
To be honest, as someone with social anxiety, quarantining wasn’t that hard. Not having to get through awkward social situations where I say the wrong thing or say nothing at all because the anxiety pushes a pause button in my brain … was a relief. Having my groceries delivered so I never had to make small talk in the grocery store checkout line? A blessing for sure.
I acknowledged back in the spring that I was made for a situation like this. But here we are, eight months later, and I start to question: what will come of me? Cocooned in my blanket of isolation, finding comfort in the lack of pressure to engage. I have to wonder if I am possibly on the path to becoming the sweet old lady in the house on the corner— the one you rarely see but know is there because the wreath on the door changes with the seasons, and you occasionally see the rustling of curtains as you pass. I always felt sorry for people like that, but maybe theirs is an intentional lifestyle?
That’s not the future that I want, but if I’m not careful, it’s where I’ll end up. I need to look forward and find comfort when the freedom to come and go where I please returns. And I do. I look forward to having a meal in a restaurant with my family. I look forward to signing up for the extracurriculars that my kids have been missing. I look forward to seeing a movie. In a theater. I. Look. Forward.
I decided to do some self-care pre-quarantine. My self-care consisted of therapy with a psychiatrist who could address my anxiety. But when COVID hit, therapy became tele-therapy, and I found it hugely ironic that I was treating my social anxiety at a time when I rarely left the house. Some medications were easy to eliminate based on the side effects, but when I found one without any, how did I really know it was working? I considered pushing pause, but given how long it took me to address my issues in the first place, I knew that stopping now would be a detriment. Besides, I have enough general anxiety sprinkled in to act as a litmus test, so I keep going.
As isolating as a pandemic is, living through one with kids is chaotic. They’re restless, cooped up, and tired of missing out on life. The emotions are real, and they run deep. They hurt, so I hurt. I gave myself more pep talks in 2020 than all of my other years combined. But, I’m tired. I’ve been challenging myself to dig deep, but how deep can you go? I’ve been digging for close to a year now. Now, when I dig, I hit rock. Every. Dang. Time. I hit rock. And there’s not enough energy in my entire body to blast through it.
So I’m going shallow in 2021.
I can’t solve the worries that have shadowed me since March. I can’t make anyone else mask up, despite the dozens of senseless social media debates I wasted my time on last year (don’t read the comments … don’t ever read the comments). I can’t make anyone else vaccinate. I can argue with my every breath, but it’s pointless when people just aren’t listening. I don’t know if virtual is better than in-person or which will merit fewer long-term scars. All I can do is make sure that my family is doing all they can, and that is enough. It’s all I’ve got.
Worrying about what I can’t control is a waste of time and a burden on my soul.
I will be shallow. I will for sure come out of this pandemic with my anxiety intact. But I can control how much worry and stress I consume. Maybe I will be that old lady on the corner (please, please let me be sweet and not crotchety) but there will be fewer gray hairs, and fewer lines etched onto my face. Because I’m letting go.
2021 may lead us away from COVID, and we may still feel the aftershocks in 2022. And if I continue to hit rock, I’m good with that. I can do shallow. We do what we can. That’s all we can do.