I recently read an article shared by a friend on, where else, Facebook. When I finished it, I commented that not only did I agree with what the author was saying, but I wish I had written it. And that got me thinking: I have not been doing a whole lot of writing about anything, let alone something that would prompt a, “Damn, I feel the same way!” response. To be patently clear: I have written many words…all of which I have deleted. Many, many, many words. All deleted.
The gist of the aforementioned article was that this new phase of the pandemic is creating a new wave of anxiety…as if there wasn’t plenty of anxiety to go around already. When every single person everywhere in the world was in lockdown, things were, in some respects utterly sucky, in others, pretty swell. FOMO was no longer a thing, even among those among us who normally suffer from it greatly. No one was doing anything, so there was nothing to MO on. Right? Now, however, with the world reopening, we are forced to not only worry about the virus but, dammit if FOMO isn’t creeping back in and, damn it all to hell, the need to make decisions – lots of decisions – is wicked hard to avoid.
I have said it before, and will say it again: there is a lot I really dig about lockdown. Any decision I had to make was a simple one:
- Take a walk or don’t take a walk?
- Decision: 5-10 miles a day. Did it. Continue to do it. It’s literally the only exercise I am getting, but I am getting it.
- Eggs, oatmeal, or smoothie for breakfast? (Clarification: there was often a first and second breakfast, so many times it was more a matter of when than which.)
- Decision: more often than not, two hard-boiled eggs courtesy of this little gadget. (Mine isn’t pink, but now that I have seen the pink one, I want it.)
- Shower or don’t shower?
- Decision: Shower every day. Twice when I walk. Which is nearly every day. Except for that time last week, when I had vertigo and the only walk I took was to the bathroom, and that was more of a crawl. It was awesome!
- Read a book or watch tv?
- Decision: I had an entirely ridiculous and self-imposed rule of no-tv-during-the-day. Not much at night, either. Too taxing to choose from the bazillion possibilities. Even recommendations (still haven’t seen Ozark, btw) were too hard to wade through.
- Decision, Part II: In a brilliant move, I took several books out of the library before they shut down. Less impressive: I read exactly none of them.
- Jeans or sweatpants?
- Decision: Fact – and a well-documented one at that – I put on jeans and a belt every single day. Which, as it turns out, was a fantastic decision because I have not gained one single pound. Thank you for that, Covid-19.
Now, however, as we ease back into life (which, incidentally, will never ever ever be the same), suddenly (or so it seems) there are thousands of decisions to be made, and, boom, FOMO is kind of a thing again.
- Go into stores; not just for necessities, but for filling the holes in our souls?
- Decision: I have been to Marshall’s. And TJ Maxx. And Old Navy. And Walmart. And Target. Oh, and Home Depot. At first, it was for things I needed. (Aside: why is it that not one single of the aforementioned stores has gym shorts? Or, if they do, only in sizes XS and XL?) Then, the excursions became more about feeling normal. Shut up: going to Marshall’s makes most of us feel normal. But, truthfully, it wasn’t an easy decision.
- Get my haircut?
- Decision: Back in early February, before the world shut down, I had 5” cut off which, as it turns out, was an epically wise decision. That said, I was the second appointment on the first day that my salon reopened at the end of May. It was a joyous day. It was not, however, a decision I took lightly.
- Manicure/pedicure? So here’s the truth. I have been having my nails done, religiously, for, gulp, 30 years. (In a quest to feel normal, and with my doctor’s permission, I famously had a manicure and pedicure the day before my bi-lateral mastectomy: it runs that deep.) For the duration of lockdown, I had short, unpolished nails and I was pretty much okay with it. In fact, I might have said (many times) that I was over getting my nails done. That, it turns out, was a lie.
- Decision: Once nail salons were allowed to open, I waited several (okay, two) days before scheduling an appointment. Afterward, despite feeling decidedly more human, I found myself hiding my hands, lest anyone judge my
bad judgment decision. Truth be told, my nail salon had more precautions in place than the urgent care I took my stepson to last week. Aside: a kid with a broken wrist during the first summer in the history of life that camps are all closed is even more fun than vertigo! Truth.
- Go to a restaurant? I happen to be married to a man who happens to not only know how to cook but also happens to love cooking and also happens to make dinner every single night. As regular and avid go-out-to-dinner folks, his menu – delicious as it was
most of the time – was becoming a little, shall we say…repetitive. We ordered take out once or twice, but last week, the first (and only) time since March that someone served us (on paper plates)(with plastic utensils) was spectacular. Utterly spectacular.
What makes the FOMO issue particularly challenging is the fact that along with one’s envy over other folks’ goings and doings is an inescapable reality: judgment and, well, more judgment. There, I said it. Who among us hasn’t had an opinion about what other people are choosing to do?
You’re going to the market in March?!? (I made my husband do all the marketing until about a month ago.)
You had contact with a human being that doesn’t live in your house in April?!? (Nope. Even the people who live in my house were kept at a distance. Mostly because of the pandemic.)
You left the house in May?!?! (In fairness, I didn’t really leave until my hair salon opened. Truth.)(In my defense, I have thick, heavy, and copious amounts of hair…it is a blessing and a curse under the best of circumstances.)
Judge, judge, judge.
Yes, I found myself concealing my perfect nails, painted the perfect pink (gel #135) lest someone judge my decision. And, until now I have kept the experience of my visit(s) to Marshalls close to the vest.
Judge, judge, judge.
Some may consider my decisions reckless. I do not.
That said, I will not go into a mall. I will not walk along the water when there are throngs of other people doing so. I will not go to a party. And I try (really, I do) to not judge anyone else if they do. I get it. (Okay, so I might judge a little. Shut up.)
Here’s are the only things I will judge, and judge harshly:
- People who don’t respect the most anxious among their people. If someone you love, or someone you even know, is uncomfortable – even if you think it is a bit much – suck it up and do as they wish.
- People who don’t wash their hands. Forget the fact that folks should, as a general rule of living, wash their hands.
- People who either don’t wear a mask or wear one under their nose. Seriously, cut that shit out.
I hope you are managing emotionally, socially, and physically.
I hope you are among people who love, respect and protect you to the very best of their ability.
I hope you are being patient, kind, and understanding of not only others but your own needs.
I hope you are reserving judgment for the things that really matter. At least
most much some of the time.