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The World Is Re-Opening: It’s Fine If You’d Just Rather Not

By Anne T. Donahue

As of 12:01 a.m. this Friday, it will finally happen: a very small sect of the world will re-open kind of, and we will all finally be free. (Within reason. Please don’t get ahead of yourselves.)

That said, it’s exciting to gaze upon the future and realize people still get to be in it! It’s very cool to know that we can eat inside restaurants if we want to (eventually), and that I can personally roam around malls wearing a mask, apologizing to every person I walk past or stand near or make direct eye contact while in the same room. Moving out of hell into a slightly less sensational hell is a tantalizing and beautiful. And if you want no part of it? This piece is for you.

I am a naturally anxious and worried person, and this is only exacerbated by the idea that I will have to move out into the world and engage with it like an active member of society. Do I want other people to feel the same way? Bitch, I do not care what anybody else does (unless you’re a dick – then I do not care for you, thanks). But the following is how I remind myself that it’s fine to still want to sit on the front step, playing Nintendo Switch, and maybe ordering McDonalds. Friends who aren’t getting their first shots until June 18? This is for you.

Remember: honestly, only a ghoul will give you shit for not wanting to go out and do things
Do any of us even know people like that? Do you have honest-to-goodness friends who would shame you for . . . not eating inside a restaurant? No. (And if you do, goodbye to them, sweet, sweet treasures.) Not a soul in the world is looking at anything but their own hopes and dreams, and while I love to tell myself otherwise, your indoor-ness is the business of nobody, and even if it was, they do not care. Everyone just wants to go outside and wear their Crocs for all to see. And you either catch those hot looks or you do not.

Remember: you’re not a freak if you want to re-enter the world slowly
I mean, I do personally identify as a freak, but that requires more a short piece on post-pandi mayhem. But let me be clear: you want to live the way we’ve been living since early 2020? Go forth! You think that makes you weird? No. Look. We’re all weirdos (first and foremost), but someone wanting to be very cautious about re-entering the general public following a global disaster isn’t interesting, let alone shocking. Of course you want to play it safe! Of course other people want to play it safe in a different way! Everyone is adjusting to this new version of hell, and unless someone begins getting really weird about masks and vaccines, everyone’s choices are totally fine.

Remember: time isn’t real and you can have! It! All!
I had a small meltdown a few weeks ago where I felt like nobody was doing exactly what I wanted or needed them to and why was I the only nervous person on the planet? (First, because nobody knew what I wanted and even if they did, I’m not the boss of them – yet – and second, let’s just assume that everybody’s nervous.) But a big part of my wanting-to-cry-or-scream came down to thinking that if I made one (1) plan with friends, I’d have to make plans all the time, forever. But guess what: no! No thank you! Who wants that? And why are we planning so far ahead? I know not a blessed thing about what the future holds, so the only safe assumption is that everything will change again at some point, and trying to micromanage our planners is not a source of stress I need in my stupid life. Go out when you want. Stay in what you decide! I’ve hit the point in my life where I hate most plans, so I’ll see you when I see you and if I don’t, well, move on and let me live.

Remember: social media is nonsense, 97% of the time
This is where I tend to get frustrated: I watch all the people I like doing a bunch of stuff I may or may not want to do and I think, “Oh my GOD, should I post more content of my exciting (mundane) amazing (it’s fine) life!”

And, well, no. No! Why? Because someone else was seen looking cute and doing a thing? Good for them! Let them have it! Social media is mostly a lie anyway, and when I look back on my life I realize that posting most things did not increase my clout or relevance, and simply taught me that sometimes, people like some posts you do and other times, they do not. That’s it. That’s the big lesson. You want to post your comeback into society? I love that for you! But if you don’t? If you’re hanging out in my camp where I just can’t summon the strength to care about anything but the joy of finally being able to buy shorts, which I will not document? Then that’s also okay. At the end of the day, it’s Instagram. And while we all use it and look at it and have thoughts about it, it’s also just a goddamn app and honestly so is American Eagle and guess what I care about more.

Remember: I will be wearing a mask for 64 more years
This is basically just a reminder to you from me, in a very personal way. Please just nod in recognition if we run into each other.

Need a little more Anne? Read more from Anne T. Donahue right here!

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