IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

I don't want to go back to my 'pre-pandemic' life. What now?

"Even though it took me awhile to get used to, I am now very comfortable with this slower, quieter, more solitary lifestyle."
Illustration of worried looking woman with crowds of people behind her
"Am I alone in wishing for recovery and also a change in how we all operate?"TODAY Illustration / Getty Images
/ Source: TMRW

Caroline Moss is an author and host of the podcast "Gee Thanks, Just Bought It," which helps people find the products they need to make life easier, better and more productive. Now with this column, "Asking for a Friend," she's helping people with the advice they need to make life easier, better and more productive. To submit a question, email us at tmrwadvice@nbcuni.com.

Hi Caroline,

Like so many other people, my mental health took a real turn over the last year. The beginning of the pandemic was super difficult for me, and then all of a sudden I got into my groove over the summer. I began getting used to living basically isolated, spending my time doing little DIY projects (like painting my apartment walls and reorganizing my closets) and then doing Zoom dates with friends as a stand-in for socializing.

Now that people are starting to get vaccinated, and fast, I find myself becoming anxious about living a post-pandemic life. I am eager to get my second shot and eager for my family and friends to be safe. What I am not eager to do: go to bars, be in large crowds of people, return to the hustle and bustle of busy days and run from point A to point B.

Even though it took me awhile to get used to, I am now very comfortable with this slower, quieter, more solitary lifestyle. I know so many people lost so much this past year and a return to “The Before” will signal that recovery has begun. But am I alone in wishing for recovery and also a change in how we all operate?

Sincerely,

Flying Solo

Oh, Solo, you are SO not alone!

My friends and I talk about this all the time. Just like you, we are eager to have the vaccine, but not eager to return to a faster lifestyle. The good news and bad news is that it’s kind of up to us to determine how we’re going to live our lives.

Realistically, I don’t think the pandemic is ending anytime soon. It feels that way if you look at Instagram, but there are still major pockets of the country that aren’t vaccinated with limited opportunities to get vaccinated. Not to mention the economic crisis we’re in will linger long after we’re all jabbed. The pandemic isn’t over, but yes, we’ll be slowly returning to more of what life used to look like before all of this.

It makes sense that we’re both excited for it and kind of dreading it. After all, it’s been a full year of embracing a brand new way of living. We’re used to it, even though we never thought we would get used to it. And now we have to overhaul our lives once again. We’re going to have to adapt. I find myself excited about the idea of hearing live music again or going to a Broadway show, and then I find myself wondering if I'm going to panic in a room full of people in a way that I didn’t worry about before.

If you discovered during the pandemic that you're really a homebody at heart, then you still can be! If you enjoyed doing DIY projects, do more! If you liked spending Friday nights curled up on the couch watching movies, do that! If you only want to sweats and T-shirts most of the time, do it!

My hope is that we'll find ways to hold onto the parts of a slower lifestyle that brought us joy, and that we remember the compassion we developed for our neighbors and ourselves and keep that going. Joy was hard to find at times over the past year, and we all did our best to find it or create it. If we challenge ourselves, I think we can find a nice balance of finding the joy in being alone and living a little slower and the joy of being able to hug and kiss and enjoy time with those we love and doing things we love to do. Why would we need to let go of all of the joy in order to return to a more recognizable way of living?

Have a question for Caroline? Email us at tmrwadvice@nbcuni.com.