COVID-19 - the virus that has changed life for every single person - is slowly coming to an end. It has been around since late 2019. Schools were forced to shut down, many people had to work from home, no social gatherings were permitted, and the whole world was shutting down. Many places were going into endless cycles of lockdown. As fast as they lifted, they closed again even quicker. Since 2019, four COVID vaccines have been approved: Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca, with Pfizer being the only vaccine approved for those who are 12-17 years old. As a 15 year old, I have been waiting to be vaccinated so that I could return to my “normal” life. Fortunately, in May 2021, the Pfizer vaccine was approved for 12-15 year olds in California. I was so excited to finally be vaccinated. I got my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on May 14th and my second dose on June 7th. It is a huge relief knowing that I am finally safe and immune against most strains of COVID.
Due to the mass number of people being vaccinated, restrictions that were set in place to reduce the spread of COVID have slowly been lifted due to the increasing probability of achieving herd immunity in many areas. In California, the mask mandate was lifted on June 15th. Moreover, most shops are now open for in-store shopping and social distancing is not mandatory. Personally, although I am vaccinated, I still feel the need to wear a mask and be cautious of my surroundings. Some people may not be vaccinated, some might have a strain of the virus I am not immune to, and I am so used to wearing a mask that it feels weird not to do so. It also honestly feels like I’m breaking the rules when I’m not wearing one, even though they are not required in my state anymore. Essentially, masks give me a sense of protection and safety, so not wearing one, will take time for me.
Furthermore, I did online school for the entirety of my sophomore year of high school, and even a quarter of my freshman year of high school. Although my district did give us the option to take part in the hybrid model - two days in school and two days online - back in late September of 2020, I stuck solely with online school because I felt safer and was already used to it. However, schools will open back up in the fall and I will be going to school everyday, just like the olden days. I am quite nervous about this, because I haven’t been surrounded by and/or in places with so many people at once since March of 2020. Moreover, getting used to in-person schooling will also take time to adjust to due to the amount of online learning I have been doing.
As the world starts to open back up, you have every right to take your time and ease back into “normal” life. Try starting with smaller social gatherings, and then gradually move your way up to larger gatherings. Furthermore, never feel like you need to take your mask off or you need to do something that you are uncomfortable doing.
Although life going back to normal can be scary, it can also be extremely exciting! And I honestly can’t wait until COVID is just an event of the past.