In the early days of of the pandemic, in anticipation of major changes to the way we live, and with a desire to record how it felt at the time, I started keeping a diary. I revisited it recently and decided to share the first entry in full, a year to the day since I wrote it. Reading it back makes me feel naïve. Two weeks later the UK went into full lockdown, and the boundaries of our lives changed. As early as day 22, I was writing about how the days all felt the same and time was blurring. I stopped counting the days shortly after that.
A year on, after ping-ponging in and out of various stages of lockdown, we’ve got a roadmap for the way out. If all goes to plan, we’ll see the majority of life opening up by mid-June. I’m choosing to remain cautiously optimistic about this, but am definitely not fixating on specific dates. A lot can, and will, still change.
A few days after the roadmap was announced, my partner asked me whether I’ll struggle with re-entry into the outside world. I think it was a rhetorical question. She knows that pre-pandemic busy places made me anxious, and that I make advance plans for how to navigate most scenarios when out in public. She also knows I’ve revelled in having the pandemic as an excuse for keeping my distance. As a result of this, it is abundantly clear that I will need my own roadmap for re-entry into a world where we can meet in public.
Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to see my family and friends again, or to meet clients in person, but I need to work out how to go about that in a way that eases me in gently. I need to understand what I can cope with, what different environments will mean and what I can do to prevent my anxiety getting in the way of the benefits of being around people.
I’m sharing this today to encourage you to think about your own re-entry plan. Some questions you might want to start with are:
- What parts of lockdown life have you grown accustomed to?
- What impact will life expanding have on this?
- What steps can you take to slow the process?
- What support do you need?