If you think that the pandemic is over and look forward to returning to your old life, I have bad news for you.
First of all, the pandemic isn’t over. In fact, it’s worse than ever before. Not in the United States, but in Asia, Latin America, and Africa, the situation got pretty bad throughout the last weeks.
At some point, we will have to talk about why we vaccinate 30-year-old healthy Westerners while we ignore the needs of 70-year-olds living in less developed nations.
But this article is not about that; it is a warning to all of us who think that the post-pandemic world won’t be challenging.
Yesterday, I was on my way to enjoy one of the first days of the post-pandemic era in Germany. Shops, hairdressers, and (most important to many Germans) beer gardens are allowed to open again.
After waiting for months to meet up with friends for a beer, I was looking forward to sitting outside, enjoying the sun, and having a good time with friends.
Well, none of that happened. It was as if the Gods didn’t want Germans to party; at least, that was what one of my buddies said. The sun was shining all afternoon, and just before the beer gardens were about to open, the rain started.
I feel that this was the perfect metaphor for what to expect after the pandemic. Many of us already look forward to certain activities, meeting up with friends, and finally travelling again—well, let’s not be too optimistic about all that.
“Expect nothing, and you won’t be disappointed,” would be my advice for the upcoming weeks.
Just as the rain stopped my weekend plans, there will be many other things disrupting our joy. Maybe the yoga studio we used to go to had to close. There is a high chance that we disagree with friends on politics, climate change, and social justice after consuming record amounts of online content during the lockdown. And I might be wrong on this, but I feel that travel won’t return to normal for a long time.
The world changed during this global pandemic. Now, as we are coming out of our homes again, we will not only notice these changes, we have to adapt to them.
As long as we don’t help less-developed nations to overcome the pandemic, there is still the risk of variants starting a new pandemic, and in the short run, we won’t be able to visit these areas of the world.
During the lockdown, many folks who used not to order their stuff online discovered the comfort of having everything available within one click. This dynamic made it even harder for local shops to survive, and they need our help more than ever.
Social isolation challenged many of us who were already struggling before the pandemic. All folks who tried to use mental health problems as an argument against lockdowns—your time is now: show us how much mental health matters and help those who need help.
The pandemic highlighted many existing problems of our time and basically put oil on a fire that was already burning.
Just because we are allowed to go out again and do all the things we used to love doesn’t mean that we can forget about the last 18 months. Some of us are still angry at each other, many of us suffer from social anxiety after being isolated for months, and others are not even aware that they are struggling.
Let’s not take the openings as an invitation to go back to our old normal. This is the time to mindfully create a new normal that acknowledges the oneness of humanity across borders, supports local businesses, and values the mental health of the individual.
We will travel again, but hopefully, pick hotels that care about the environment. We will go shopping again, but hopefully at the local store that desperately needs our help right now. We will go out and party, but let’s try to stay away from toxic dating culture.
We learned so much; let’s try to put it into action.