Why I’m apprehensive of life returning back to ‘normal’

Illustration of a person warily peeking out of a door that leads to Sproul Plaza
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With the vaccine rollout and UC Berkeley announcing that there will be in-person classes this fall, life seems to slowly be making its way back to “normalcy.” Being a freshman myself and never having experienced going to a lecture, lab, discussion or a library, I’m very excited to see so much progress. But at the same time, I’m also scared. 

For the past year, I’ve been inside my room, staring at my online school, my online friends, my online family, my online life. I grew accustomed to being by myself, not having the fear of missing out and being okay with spending time alone. The inner introvert in me flourished while the natural extrovert in me suffered. I didn’t need the social skills that I’d used every day for my entire life. I could happily rewatch “New Girl” for the third time in my life. I could go days without speaking to anyone outside of my family. Maybe it was sadness that allowed me to do this, or maybe it was me finally being okay with spending time by myself. Either way, I’ve grown used to being in my little room in my online world. 

It got easy to live in this online world. I could turn it off with the simple shut of my laptop when it became too much. But you can’t turn off the real world. That’s why I’m scared. I’m scared that I’ll feel overwhelmed with everyone (myself included) trying to compensate for this year that we “lost.” I’m not only mentally drained from this year, but I also don’t have the same motivation and social capacity I once did. I’m afraid life will start moving too fast again, and I will drown in the fast-paced life that left me almost broken just as the pandemic began. 

More than that, I fear that we will forget all that we saw this year: the injustice, the inequality, the pain, the love. This pandemic made the dust of life settle. And when there was nothing else left to distract us, we saw everything that was important to us. We made changes to our lives, promises to ourselves, promises to others and told each other that when all of this was over, we would be different and better. I hope we don’t forget everything we saw and experienced this year. I hope we remain just as passionate about the stark inequality in our society, racial injustice and the love and pain that all of us feel. Moving forward, more than anything, I just hope we don’t take each other for granted anymore. If we’ve learned anything from this pandemic, it’s that nothing is guaranteed, so appreciate everything and everyone that you have. 

Contact Paloma Torres at [email protected].