The Gongwer Blog

It's January 2022. I'm Tired. And I'm Tired Of Being Tired. Aren't You?

By Jordyn Hermani
Staff Writer
Posted: January 24, 2022 4:10 PM

I missed my niece's first Christmas.

She's just about three months old, the first grandchild born on my husband's side, and I've seen her once. Held her, once. It's more than some in the family can say who live elsewhere in the country. And because of that, I just probably count myself as lucky.

But I don't.

I just count myself as tired.

We're staring down the barrel of another year in this pandemic. My husband and I have both lost family members. My own parents caught it, and it took my father out of commission for days in a scary way. We thought we both had it back in December – turns out it was just strep – but it scared us enough that we'd delayed seeing anyone until earlier this month.

Sure, a late Christmas is still Christmas, but it feels different enough that it's not the same.

We've missed friends' weddings. We've cancelled birthday plans. We were lucky enough to catch a lull in the virus to get married this past August, but with a guest list cut down to the point where we even questioned the need of having one. It's because of this that we haven't even given any thought to a honeymoon.

With how volatile things are, here and abroad, we probably won't for a while, either.

So much of our time has now been spent couped up inside, playing video games or watching television or reading, on the days when it's not nice enough to go out. When it was warmer, most of our time was spent doing solitary activities anyways, like camping or paddleboarding. There was always some fear about accidentally catching COVID and not knowing it, but instead passing it on to friends and loved ones.

We'd tried going to a concert shortly after our wedding but stood far apart from everyone else with masks on and felt awkward the whole time, like we were children about to get in trouble for doing something we shouldn't have. And this was despite the venue requiring proof of vaccination, music venue crowds being allowed indoors again and both of us having tested negative beforehand.

In March 2020, it felt bearable. We understood that what we were doing was for the greater good. While it was rough to be apart from family or to cancel major life events, it was because we were working toward snuffing out COVID. There was always a sense of understanding that our intangible losses paled in comparison to the losses of others, or the losses we could experience should we not stick to the guidelines.

In January 2022, everything feels insulated now. Claustrophobic. I'm not saying that we should suddenly go out and lick every doorknob in a six-mile radius because the virus isn't real. I'm also not saying that people shouldn't be allowed to feel tired. Or angry. Sad. Disappointed. Frustrated. To be one of the people who "followed all the rules," got their shots when they were supposed to and keeps masking up – even now – to find yourself in virtually the same place you were two years ago? It's a punch in the gut. It makes you question if it was even worth it.

I recognize that I'm speaking from a place of privilege here. My husband and I don't have children, so we didn't have to experience the daunting task that is virtual learning or worry about needing to find alternative daycare. We didn't lose our jobs. We haven't been sickened by COVID – yet, I feel the need to add, since it's likely we will eventually – and the virus hasn't ravaged our families like it has for some others.

Yet, I know we're not alone in feeling this sense of hopelessness. Whether people want to admit it or not, even the staunchest supporter of the necessity of COVID protocol is tired.

It's easy to see why.

This month alone, the House has cancelled voting in their first full week back due to the virus. Governor Gretchen Whitmer will again be giving her State of the State address virtually out of caution for spread. Several state boards and commissions are still meeting virtually, and for those that aren't, rooms are typically set up to mitigate the potential for people to sit near each other.

It's as if nothing has changed between 2021 and 2022 – and it's only January. If this is how I'm feeling now, I'm already dreading of how I'll feel come June or December. What other life events will be put on hold or missed entirely because of the pandemic? What should I expect when it feels like every few months the bridge to the "other side" of this thing is just a little ricketier than before?

I'm not sure what finally pushed me enough to write this blog. A sense of catharsis? Maybe. An open letter to others who feel like I do, who thought they were alone in feeling like this but realize their emotions are more common than they realized? Sure.

I wasn't even aware of what I was feeling until my husband and I sat down and talked through it. There's bound to be others in the same boat. And to them I say: feel it. It's already been established that this level of isolation and stress is doing great damages to peoples' mental health. But talk with someone. A sibling, a parent, a coworker, whoever.

Check in with them to see how they're doing. Make sure they're not neck deep in water and not even bothering to try and tread. Even from the outside if they look OK – ask anyways. You never know.

The road ahead of us, as it relates to COVID, is long. I'm not going to offer platitudes and say it's going to get better or that this will get easier. But we can make it easier for ourselves by just trying to be human and be there for each other. It's one of the few constants that stayed, well, constant throughout these last handful of months.

Cry if you have to. Scream if you must. However best you get your emotions out, in a healthy way, do that: yoga, reading, video chatting with a loved one, running, going for a drive, even unplugging from technology for a few days. But at least know you're not alone in feeling that way.

And at least know that whatever comes out of this year, at least we can all find some weird sense of community in being tired together.

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