The Mindset Shift That Will Get Us Through the Pandemic Home Stretch
With normal feeling tantalizingly close, it’s time to reconsider how we think about trust
I got my Covid vaccine a couple weeks ago (Johnson and Johnson, in case anyone was wondering). If you’ve received yours, too, you know exactly what I’m talking about when I say the wave of emotions hit as soon as I felt the needle in my arm. Gratitude. Joy. Relief. And coursing underneath it all was the unmistakable rush of adrenaline: Every cell in my body seemed to be screaming at me to throw a party, jam myself into a crowded indoor happy hour, do all the things I so desperately craved.
Maybe most of all, though, I was thrilled to finally be rid of the phrase that’s been a bane of my pandemic experience, the one that’s come up too many times when I tried to figure out how to see friends or family: It’s okay, I trust you. I’ve heard it. I’ve thought it myself. And I’ve always hated it.
Living through a pandemic, as we’ve all learned, means constantly calculating risk. That calculus looks different post-vaccination. But in one way, it remains very much the same. In this home stretch, it’s harder and more vital than ever to remember: The virus has never known, or cared, who our friends are.
It’s something so many of us have struggled to understand this whole time. We’ve spent the past year side-eyeing maskless strangers on the sidewalk and nervously hustling our way through the grocery store, but when it comes to people we know, we’ve spent the past year loosening up our precautions. I trust them, I told myself each time I made my way into a small backyard gathering that felt a bit larger than I’d like. And it was true. I did. Inevitably, I still left feeling anxious.
Because over the past year, trust hasn’t carried the weight we’ve assigned it — not at the beginning, not at the winter peak, and not now, when we’re so close to getting out of this. One of the worst things we can do at this point? Be overly generous with our trust.
Of course, vaccination is bringing all kinds of (welcome!) new possibilities. But when it comes to interacting with non-vaccinated people in our lives, overriding our trusting instincts is what will get us to…