The world around me is in quiet chaos. People are dying. People are sick. People have no money, no jobs. But the streets are essentially empty. People are quarantining themselves indoors for a little over a month at the time of this writing, with little to no human contact with the outside world. But what happens when all of that ends? It can be difficult to imagine a post-COVID-19 America if in fact there will be one.
Many people seem to believe that by April 30, or when the social distancing rules are retracted, COVID-19 magically gets up and wanders off this continent. Everyone goes back to work, concerts, sports events, movie theaters, and restaurants.
I've thought a lot about the day when the world becomes open again, and I want you to try and picture it too. What happens? Does everyone go back to work and the beach, as if nothing ever happened? I personally don't quite think so.
In my own personal experience of this new world we find ourselves living in, you can't expect someone who has intentionally closed the door on the world to be the same person they were when they open it. If they open it. Our whole lives have been uprooted at the drop of a hat.
I was told, essentially, "You have two hours to pack up your belongings in Athens, Georgia, move back in with your parents for a number of months, during which you are not allowed to see most of your friends or go outside or to public places, and all of your academic course load will be moved online to a new unknown format until it's decided things are safe again. And you better keep up."
This within the span of a week, possibly just a few days. I'm sure many, many people have situations far worse than that hanging over their heads, but here I'll only be speaking on the experience I've had.
As someone plagued by loneliness who has felt trapped in his own home and sometimes even his own mind before the pandemic began, it obviously has not helped. But in a strange, dark way, I feel almost more comforted than I had before. Let me explain.
You may have seen some meme on the internet or heard one of your friends say, "Ah well I've been practicing social distancing for years, this is my time to shine." Which, although I find it annoying, is certainly true for me. I'm an introvert by nature and I have that super fun ability that allows me to feel totally alone in a crowded room surrounded by loving friends and family. This isn't a part of myself I particularly enjoy, but it is part of how my brain works. So when I'm told to continue to stay inside and not talk to anyone, it only lets me sink lower and lower into that dark pit that seemed to always be under me as it was.
But that dark comfort I mentioned earlier comes in when I realize: this is happening to everyone. Everyone on earth, on some level or another, finally knows what it's like to be inside the head of someone like me; to be trapped, to feel anxious and scared almost all the time with little hope for what the future holds.
It makes me angry when certain people decide that they're better than this, that they won't let a highly contagious illness stop them from having themselves a good time. You might think that I find something like that empowering, defying authority and your dark feelings all in one swing. But I don't. I find it selfish and ignorant that while others are sadly quarantining in their homes doing their part, people like this decide that, despite all this, they're gonna go out and have a good time because they feel entitled to do so.
Now, some of you (including myself) might think, "Oh that's sad, the depressed boy wants the rest of us to get a taste of how he feels, and getting angry at the people who don't." Sure, maybe that off-color search for validation is part of it. Psychology works in mysterious ways.
It's always been a dream of mine to create something out of my dark feelings that can hit home with almost everyone. It's one of the reasons I love to write. I want to one day create something, likely a story, out of my thoughts that people can relate to, sympathize with, or just simply understand.
With everyone quarantining from COVID-19, I have now just a little taste of what it's like to be understood on a massive scale. And whenever this comes to an end, as messed up as the thought might be in ways, it might be a bittersweet moment for me.