I’m a textbook extrovert. I will always pick being in person over a phone call or text message, my weeks often include multiple happy hours, and my weekends, well, I try to spend as little time in the house as possible. I feed off of the energy of others and have been that way for as long as I can remember. But a little more than a year ago, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the age of social distancing began, and the social life that I’d become accustomed to came to a screeching halt.
At first, I didn’t stress staying in too much as like most of us, I thought the change would last us a few weeks tops. But those few weeks quickly became months, and eventually, those months became a year. Over time, the mental toll that came with not being able to be out and about manifested in more ways than one. My anxiety hit record levels, I began drowning myself in work to try to distract from the sadness, and I just didn’t feel like myself. Let me be clear, I’m a firm believer in science and looking out for the well-being of those other than myself, so simply carrying on with life as normal while hundreds of thousands lost their lives to the terrifying virus simply wasn’t an option for me. So I sat in the house, depression growing, waiting for the day when it would all be over.
Lately, I’ve begun to have hope that that day is near. Myself and my family got vaccinated, I (safely) went on my first vacation since quarantine, and I’m seeing my vaccinated friends more often for things such as, yes, happy hours and brunches. And while things aren’t totally back to normal, and God knows when or if “normal” as we knew it will ever exist again, the Blake that existed in early 2020 feels like she’s soon going to make a comeback.
However, I’d be lying if I said that the effects of a year indoors don’t still loom. My anxiety is still higher than ever, the residual of the depression that formed still has to be tended to, and I’m slowly but surely working to reinstate those relationships that fell off during quarantine due to for the most part completely shutting down. But doing that work, knowing that my extrovert ways will have their way sooner than later, is a hell of a lot easier.
That said, if you see me out this summer, basking in the sun and sipping on my frose, surrounded by my friends and family looking happier than ever, know it’s because I am. Know that it’s because I too was one of those people fighting to maintain sanity through 2020 and into 2021, and finally, after what seemed like a never-ending dark cloud, I’m seeing the sunshine, and it feels amazing. I hope that you’ll begin to see the sunshine too, that you’ll realize that there really was a light at the end of the tunnel, and brighter days are actually ahead.