The reactions to the UK’s move towards the ending of Covid-19 restrictions seem to be divided into two broad camps among my friends: those who are thrilled about it and can't wait to get back to a pre-Covid norm as fast as possible; and those who are nervous about it,
Of course, that's a generalisation – the situation is far more nuanced than that. But, regardless, I've found that I don’t really fit into either camp. Instead, I've been flitting pretty constantly between the two during lockdown – and throughout the past few months, perpetual uncertainty and indecision have become my “new normal”.
Some days, I’ll long for when I can go to a club again. I'd got to the point where I didn’t even really like clubbing before the pandemic struck; but ever since it hasn’t been possible, I’ve frequently yearned to be part of a hot, sweaty, sticky crowd; to scream inarticulately with my friends on the dancefloor as our favourite song comes on.
I’ve even dreamed of club toilets, where the loo roll’s always gone and the floor seems to be flooded from a source that no one wants to know about – but where I’ve also had some of the most intimate conversations of my life, with strangers I’ve met in the queue at 2am.
Similarly, during the past few months I’ve wanted nothing more than to hug my friends – and I’m not even really a hugger. I've longed for the days when we can travel abroad once again. I've often been desperate to move back to London, where I haven't lived since November.
However, on other days, I feel consumed by fear and agitation by the idea of everything shifting back to normal. I was faced with the idea of hugging my granny for the first time the other day – something I've longed to do since the pandemic started – but even though she's fully vaccinated (and hopefully soon I will be too), I felt like I wouldn't be able to do it. The idea of being in such close physical contact with someone I’ve desperately wanted to protect at all costs feels terrifying to me.
Even over a move back to London, I’ll switch between longing and fear in the space of day. While the idea of moving back often fills me with excitement, it can equally often fill me with a sense of stifling panic. “I can’t do it,” I’ll think to myself, over and over. “I’m not ready.”
I can't seem to decide how I really feel about anything – but I've decided (ironically) that I don't need to.
We have all had to adjust our thinking during the pandemic. We have had to teach ourselves to see everyday human touch as something potentially dangerous, and human proximity as something to be avoided. We taught ourselves to insert masks and hand sanitiser into our daily routine before we left the house – “Keys? Phone? Purse? Mask?” – and we had to work new phrases like “social distancing” into our vocabulary at record speed.
Starting to reverse that process will take time – especially with the government's perpetual dithering and mixed messaging. Each person will be different. Some will be able to bounce back immediately; for others, like me, it will be a longer process. I’m not finding it easy to stop seeing the risks everywhere, just as I simultaneously long for the days when we can forget about the danger altogether.
But I'm going to stop berating myself for my indecision. We're all adjusting to the lifting of lockdown in our own ways, as we move closer to 21 June and wait to hear whether the Delta variant will impact the reopening roadmap.
Uncertainty and indecision happen to be my way of dealing with it: and I suspect it’s a more common way than I initially thought.
For anyone else feeling consumed by indecision: you're not alone. Let’s just give it time.