For many, including myself, January 22nd marked a significant day in this calendar year. Overnight it seems the vast majority of Covid restrictions were lifted, meaning Ireland will now revert to some form of normality. This is welcome news, considering the last two years have been consumed with a fluctuating and unpredictable situation. However, there are concerns, that this sudden revoking of Covid restrictions might lead to another surge in cases; there’s also the hope that this is a signalling card for the end of the pandemic, but what is that going to look like, and how do we navigate this ‘new normal’?
Like anyone else, for the last two years I’ve felt a sense of discomfort, but that discomfort inevitably became a familiar feeling. So understandably this new step feels somewhat uncomfortable. While I was thrilled to hear we’re moving in a positive direction, I also needed to take a step back and truly evaluate what this means, and what we need to expect.
For me, I anticipate cases going up, and then being good for a while. I find that this is the most practical approach, to strike a balance between optimism and reality. As a student, I especially find this time volatile, and yet exciting. With a newfound sense of freedom, the day to day has become more manageable.
About a week into the restrictions being lifted, there is definitely a sense of celebration in the air. However, the question is will that be sustained? As a generation of people who have spent the last few years of our lives dealing with constant and continuous adjustments, I can never feel too assured about a new development in this pandemic. Only two years ago, some of us believed that within two weeks we would be back to normal. My approach to the next steps is to take it all day by day. There is a carefulness that needs to be incorporated with our current situation. Robert Frost calls this carefulness, “the same pains we use to fill a cup up to the brim, and even above the brim.” This can be done by also appreciating the freedoms we now have back. I think this new phase is all about trusting ourselves again, appreciating where we are, while at the same time remembering where we were not too long ago.