Very slowly but surely, we’re starting to emerge from the pandemic. At time of writing, over 30 million people in the UK have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This is amazing news and all the credit goes to the scientists who developed the vaccines and the amazing healthcare professionals who have been delivering it.
But now that “when all this is over” is starting to look like a real possibility rather than a distant dream, I find myself feeling… scared. Excited, yes. Hopeful, definitely. Relieved in the extreme. But, yes, also scared.
I wanted to share four of my big post-pandemic fears. If you share any of them, or have your own that I haven’t included here, know that you’re not alone. It’s easy to feel as though, among the unbridalled joy at the idea of getting our freedom back, you’re the only one feeling apprehensive. I promise you’re not.
So here’s what I’m afraid of.
Yes, I’m still going to be nervous about getting COVID (or, worse, passing it to someone more vulnerable.) We know that the vaccines are highly effective but do not provide 100% immunity. Therefore it is still at least theoretically possible to contract the virus.
I know it’s unlikely and that this is largely irrational. The huge drop in infection rates has already proven that the vaccines work. But yeah, I’m still going to be afraid of contracting the virus for a while.
Not Knowing How to People Any More
Lengthy social isolation takes a toll, and it is going to take some time for us to relearn how to be around one another in physical space again. I find myself wondering if I’ll remember how to socialise in a way that doesn’t happen through a screen. If I’ll still know how to chat, how to read body-language, how to flirt.
I’ve got pretty good at being insular over the last year. I think many of us have had to, in order to get through this without losing our minds. But how hard is it going to be to unlearn that again, to become the social butterfly I used to be? I fear it might be very hard.
Touch Remaining Taboo
I’m a tactile person. I like to hug, snuggle, kiss, and share easy physical affection with my loved ones. I’m afraid that casual touch is going to remain taboo in the post-COVID world.
Will I be able to throw my arms around friends when I see them again? Will I be able to dance with strangers, kiss people I’ve just met, hold hands or cuddle casually? Are we ever going to get back to the point where “may I hug you?” is a simple request for consent, not something with potentially life-and-death consequences to consider.
I think it’s going to be some time before we stop flinching at the idea of a person not in our “bubble” getting too close. I just hope we can collectively move past it with time.
My Communities Being Scapegoated
I’m furious at the people who have held large kink events and swing gatherings during COVID. The recklessness, selfishness, and sheer stupidity takes my breath away.
But I’m also afraid that once the restrictions are over, non-monogamous communities are going to become scapegoats when surges in infections inevitably pop up again.
If people go to a regular nightclub, a gig, or the theatre and get infected, that’s unfortunate but ultimately no-one will be scandalised. If someone goes to a swing club or sex party and spreads the virus, though? That’s a fucking Daily Mail headline waiting to happen. Every attendee and community organiser will probably have this reality sitting in the backs of their minds for at least the next couple of years.
What are you afraid of when it comes to life after the pandemic? There are no easy answers to any of this, but at least we can be there for one another and remind ourselves that we are not alone.