May 2, 2021: Social Limbo
What a strange place we currently inhabit.
The shut-downs of the past year are easing, and every day, millions of vaccine doses are being given. Economic indicators are promising, and for the first time in over a year, people are making plans and looking ahead with optimism.
Yet on the other hand, virus mutations have taken hold and actual covid case numbers are once again on the rise. Scientific experts are urging caution and vigilance as we navigate this critical transition.
This leaves so many of us in social limbo.
For someone who leans toward introvert tendencies, last March when the CDC and WHO guidelines told us to shrink our social circle into a pandemic-bubble, it was not difficult for me to do. I found comfort in the solitude. I enjoyed the extra time in my calendar that used to be filled with attending events and socializing. I enjoyed participating through virtual options for some events that were sidelined, and others, I just skipped all together. I do love to entertain, and missed hosting cocktail and dinner parties, but I easily adjusted to weekends of gardening, cooking, reading, writing, and time with my immediate family members.
Depending on where you live, mandates and expectations differ, which complicates this transition phase. There are no hard and fast rules for how and when to “return to normal”. There are so many things to consider. Family work and health situations vary so greatly and yet are so central to these decisions.
So the current question for each of us is- at this point, how much should we really open up our social circle?
Many people have already thrown caution to the wind and have resumed their pre-pandemic lives. Maskless and defiant, they are once again gathering in enormous groups, with no effort to physically distance themselves. This cavalier approach could easily threaten to undo all the progress being made.
However, staying in a strict pandemic-bubble does nothing to help us transition to normalcy.
How does one strike the appropriate balance?
This question was front and center for me recently, when a dear friend and neighbor invited us for cocktails and appetizers with a group of also-vaccinated people. Most were mutual friends, but a few were friends from out of state visiting them. Ultimately, we passed on the invitation. Mainly because our kids and grandkids are not yet fully vaccinated and we could still potentially expose them. But another invitation for dinner at a friend’s, we accepted. The risk was much lower. I now sit looking at an invitation for a baby shower. A face-to-face gathering of many friends with a celebratory meal. I do not know the vaccination status of most of the other guests, and I have no idea of their social interactions and therefore their risk factor. I will send a gift, but will not be attending. I hope she understands.
As we navigate this time of social limbo and try to strike the right balance, let’s make sure we support our friends and family in the choices they make. They may have a different threshold and different risk-tolerances. Everyone needs to make the choices that feel right for them, even if they are different than the choices we make at this time.