Coming out of the Pandemic Closet
It was blustery and bright. I leaned out over the balustrade and peered up from my balcony as an airline jet thundered close above, the second in an unusually short time. I had just signed and submitted the letter which officially confirmed my entrance into veterinary school in mere months.
This third awakening from lockdown feels different. The pandemic was frightening and gruelling, but it was also the ‘factory reset’ I didn’t know I needed. As much as lockdowns stole my freedom and dramatically altered my lifestyle by force, the past sixteen months have been a comfortable time to hide and grapple with my identity, my relationships, and my future.
For my entire university career I have railed against the transient, ‘not-quiet-there’ nature of undergrad. Even before Guelph, I longed for a time when I could give up the fight for grades and experience and sit comfortably on my achievement. In the weeks following my interview before my acceptance, I ended a near decade of frantic ambition feeling unexpectedly comfortable in the unknown. Instead of fuelling background anxiety, the Schrödinger’s cat that was vet school brought me deeper into the present than I’ve ever been. The trees overhanging the trails I ran seemed more vividly alive, the river was more calming, and I was, perhaps for the first time, completely content with the present state of every relationship in my life.
As more jets pass overhead, I walk past cheerful dozens dining out, and an in-person return to school is imminent, I have an inkling that the pandemic will soon stop providing me with that comfortable hiding place. I couldn’t feel more grateful and fulfilled that I am finally to become a doctor, but part of me also feels like a groggy child on the first day of school.
Life is again becoming faster and louder. A childhood dream has come true. My creativity seems to be taking a public direction all its own. I don’t feel ready, but when would I ever?