My anxiety makes me fearful. How will I function post-pandemic?

My anxiety often gets the best of me. Photo courtesy

COVID-19 vaccinations are starting to be distributed to portions of the population, universities are preparing to offer more in-person classes in upcoming semesters and some states are starting to reopen.

It appears that the pandemic that has plagued us all for more than a year is slowly coming to an end. Most people would probably be happy about this, eager to get back to normal life with more human interaction.

I, however, am somewhat frightened by the idea. Yes, I am ready for the pandemic to be resolved because the thought of possibly contracting COVID-19 has constantly worried me, but I am not quite ready to let go of the virtual world.

I hate to claim it, but I suffer from anxiety. I often become worried or nervous, especially in new settings that involve a lot of people. Because of my anxiety, I am inclined to shy away from opportunities that require lots of human interaction or involve being in uncomfortable places.

COVID-19 forced everyone to move into a virtual world. This virtual world removed much of my required human interaction and allowed me to accomplish my goals in settings that were comfortable for me. Being able to handle almost everything remotely in the comfort of my own room was just what I needed to start reaching my maximum potential.

During the pandemic, I accomplished two major things that I could not muster up the confidence to do prior. I became a radio personality on WANM-FM 90.5, “The Flava Station.” I had been overwhelmed by the idea of the training process in person, so I did not even attempt to start the process the first two times I had the opportunity. I also applied for, was offered and accepted my first internship, which I initially avoided doing because I did not know if I was prepared to work in an unfamiliar place.

The virtual world was the catalyst for me accomplishing these goals. The training process for the radio was done remotely, which caused me to be less overwhelmed. I also knew that my internship would be done remotely, so I was confident enough to apply for it. Being able to limit face-to-face communication and work in any setting that is comfortable for me has allowed me to flourish professionally.

Additionally, because of COVID-19, all this time I have had a barrier with me that makes me more comfortable when I enter into settings that would usually put me on edge: the mask. Having a large portion of my face hidden makes me feel as if I am alone, even when I am surrounded by others. This grants me the ability to handle more social settings.

With my mask, I picked up a new hobby during the pandemic. I started to go to the skating rink almost every week, and even though there are so many people there, I am never on edge because I feel like I am in my own world.

The pandemic has allowed me to thrive professionally and socially by making it acceptable to handle almost everything remotely and wear a mask that hides most of my face every time I am around people. But as the world starts to shift back to a more normal way of life, I will not be able to rely on these things all the time.

I ask myself: Will you be able to succeed when the world is back to normal now that you have gotten used to accomplishing things this way?

It will be a challenge for me, but my hope is that I can take the lessons I’ve learned and the confidence I have found during this time and continue to do the things that I am doing. Now that I am aware of my capabilities and potential, I hope that I can continue to function and succeed once everything returns to normal without my anxiety getting the best of me.

Honestly, I will not know until it happens, and that is frightening to me. I will have to be thrown back into the regular world before I know if I can function or if the pressure and discomfort will push me back into my old behaviors