Going out didn’t used to be scary. In fact, it was one of our favourite things to do—we used to go out like most nights of the week. By now, we all know what to pack when we go out: a mask, hand sanitiser, vaccine pass, ID, backup mask, wallet, and keys. But after wave after wave of lockdowns and new virus variants, we’re also adding another thing to the list: social anxiety. How do we really interact with other people in person anymore?
We’re pretty sure that we’re not alone when we say that leaving the house is becoming more and more of a daunting task. Attending Zoom lectures and meetings and watching recordings online have become the new norm—at least for those of us who are too uncomfortable to leave the house and interact with other households.
Try as we might, it’s hard to get used to this “new normal”, especially if you have immunocompromised friends and whānau, elderly relatives, or a weak immune system. Perhaps there’s a healthy balance to be struck, but what with random people walking within an inch of your face, bad masking-wearing practices, and the terror of the two-day infection-to-symptom delay, sometimes it just doesn’t feel worth it.
So, how do we take care of ourselves, not just physically, but emotionally, mentally, and sexually? Because for real, this drought period is getting out of hand. The dating scene is rough out here. What is even the protocol for going on dates now? If the pandemic goes on for any longer, we’re gonna forget how to flirt—it feels like it’s been months since we’ve gone on dates with new people.
Gone are the days of sloppy drunk party hook-ups (may they rest in peace). And it’s not just because we’re getting too old for clubbing—though that is true—it’s just that even three shots in, you can still see that cutie with a booty sniffling every five seconds. Unfortunately, no matter how much we want to push caution headfirst into a bus, there’s no escaping the fact that we both have family members that could be seriously affected by any careless decisions we make.
There’s a lot of rhetoric out there that Covid is “just a cold” or “not that bad”. That may be true for some lucky people, but for others, it can mean days, or even weeks, of serious illness. For us, being cautious at this time is hard, yes. We can feel our social skills rapidly deteriorating; our houses are getting claustrophobic; and we miss our friends, and having regular sex. Not to mention that Zoom makes us want to throw our laptops into the sea. But however scary, exhausting, and stressful this wave is, we’re all in this together (as cheesy as that sounds).
Because it’s not just the virus—rife disinformation, scaremongering and a lack of empathy are all contributing factors to the fear we feel leaving the house. But if you think back to those first days in 2020, there was a sense of trust in the community. Trust in one another, and trust that we’d make it through. Although it’s been a long and exhausting ride since then, that sentiment still holds true. We’re not alone. If we’re all a little more careful, a little more empathetic, and a lot more gentle, there will be an end in sight. Mask up (if you can), give us some damn room, take your gatherings outside, report your RATs, and stay inside if you’re sick. We can do this. Kia kaha, 加油!
Flora Xie and Naomii Seah.