Last week, when NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that our social distancing and lockdown regulation reigns would be slightly loosened, I experienced a strange sense of panic rising in my body. While it subsided, it remained an undercurrent, a thought in the corners of my brain. When I started thinking about essentially, just resuming ‘normal’ life, the panic reared its head again. And again when I started seeing people getting together again in groups on Instagram.
The idea that it is safe enough to be resuming social interactions should be comforting and exciting, but the only feeling I can muster up is anxiety - I'm not ready.
It's a notion I've been pondering. It's lingered with me for a few reasons. Mainly because I don’t believe any of us are ready, from a health and safety perspective. The fear of a second wind affecting friends and family, and in turn our jobs and financial security still lurks. As does the fear that people won’t act responsibly when given a small taste of their freedom back.
What happens when we are allowed to see and hug our friends and do so with liberation, only to be once again confined to our homes? Because some of us took things too far? Because the proverbial ‘curve’ has risen again? While it would be ideal to remain optimistic, this is not the reality for the rest of the world right now.
From an emotional standpoint, the idea of getting back out there and socialising again fills me with anxiety. It's been a surprisingly delightful reprieve to be free from the clutches of Saturday Spirals. A term coined by Man Repeller's Gyan Yankovich, the Saturday Spiral is the anxiety one experiences come the Saturday-morning realisation that you haven’t socially beefed up your weekend. You know, that sense that you're wasting your time off and you've not adequately planned for your two days of freedom.
While I’ve attempted to unpack my unhappiness at feeling stuck in the clutches of FOMO culture before, I’ve never really made that much headway in attempting to pry myself free. Perhaps it's because I’m an inherently social creature in my twenties, who also happens to be a double Leo, sun and rising. Now, in the instance of being amid a global pandemic, my anxiety goes far beyond being worried I'm not cool enough to have multiple social engagements on the weekends.
We have had an intense two months.
Being catapulted from an ever-so-slightly regained sense of normalcy after the 2019/20 bushfires, straight into another catastrophic world.
A world that is one of the most distressing environments anyone could live in. All this, in a matter of weeks is extremely traumatic, even for those of us who have the luxury of healthcare, hygiene and housing.
When this situation began, I wrote about how exhausting it felt to try and optimise this isolation - and no wonder I was feeling burnt out. We are at war with an invisible enemy and all that seemed to matter was who owned a Peloton bike (because the worst thing that could happen to you during this, is getting a little juicier). This extreme display of productiveness seems to have petered out with the same fever that compelled the nation to hoard toilet paper.
And while we’ve watched the numbers drop and cases recover, we've somehow found a sense of bubble-like quiet I can’t help but feel soothed by.
There is a measure of comfort I’ve taken in waking up on the weekend knowing everyone is safe inside their homes, reading and pottering about and going to bed early. No social commitments to compete with the desire to spend the day on the couch. No FOMO in sight. What bliss. Which I say at risk of sounding overly privileged, because I am well-aware this is far from bliss for the thousands affected.
It’s because of this that I have so much enthusiasm for continuing staying indoors. Relishing in the forced-downtime and quiet that has been imposed upon us. But, so many of us do not have the same measure of comfort or sense of relaxation that I have - which I am aware is cushioned by job security. I guess this this is why slowly resuming life feels like a gamble for those less secure.
Generally, like any topic that affects the globe, the nuances of the conversation span further than I could ever attempt to articulate in one article. So does the experience we as individuals are met with during this time. In the interest of transparency, I am wary this could backfire against me, deeming me effectively #cancelled until further notice. But I suppose all my emotional needs are yearning for is some old-fashioned validation.
To which I ask, is anyone else feeling this way?