Featured Illustration: Kelly Marcelle Malka
It’s nearing a year since quarantine has started going into effect in several states across the country. A year of mask-wearing, test-taking, COVID party shaming, and much more. This past year has been filled with loss, grief, adaptability, and uncertainty. But one thing is certain: things will never be the same.
The other day, I was talking to my father and he said that COVID-19 is going to be akin to the flu; we’re going to have to learn to live with its presence, take the vaccine regularly, and hope that we don’t catch it. And it was really jarring to finally accept that this whole thing happened. None of us saw the pandemic coming and unfortunately, we were rudely awakened (at least here in the U.S.) because our former leadership failed to prepare us for what was to come. Had we been equipped to tackle this pandemic from the beginning, maybe I’d be writing something different today.
However, despite the fact that the world will never go back to “normal”, people have continued to try and push for what was acceptable to do prior to the world halting. From continuing to gather in large groups, to not mandating mask-wearing, the United States and other countries are guilty of prolonging the effects of the pandemic and not doing enough in response. If you want to see your friends at a festival like they’re doing in New Zealand, maybe respect the rules necessary in order for us to get our positivity rates down. You can’t accept those things when over half a million people in this country have died due to this pandemic. It’s a serious thing, your college parties can wait.
2021 itself started in a wild manner, so it’s safe to say that the remainder of the year will most likely not be “normal”. But, change has to happen. Things never stay the same and although this is an extreme example, this pandemic has definitely taught us to expect the unexpected. I don’t think it’s naive per se to wish for normalcy, I wish for normalcy every day. I wish I could see my friends again without having a mask muffling our voices. I wanted to travel this year like many other people (like many are still doing despite CDC guidelines), and I was gearing up to go to my second concert ever last year.
But the reality is, COVID is here, COVID is going to be here, and it’s going to have a large impact on the next couple of years.
With the vaccine rolling out, there are hopes of gathering indoors again. Colleges are planning to bring more students back to campus, places of work are giving their employees the option to come back to the office beginning in the summer, and things seem to be looking up in that sense. But everything else needs to be reimagined. So get your thinking cap on, use your imagination, and let’s adapt. Because adapting and doing what’s right is how we’ll survive.