Here in the United States, we’re finally headed in the right direction. Where I live, everybody’s getting vaccinated, and it’s been lovely going for walks and seeing people’s faces in the parks. It’s only a matter of time before workplaces reopen and social events begin, and I’ve realized that I’m nowhere near ready. I’m excited but unprepared, after a year and a half of quarantine. Here are my top quandaries:

I’ve been dressing like a 10-year-old for over a year

With nowhere to go where anybody cared what I was wearing, I’ve been sporting jeans (or shorts) and printed T-shirts for a year and a half now. Early on in my career (one in which people tend to dress casually), I was publicly ridiculed for dressing like a 10-year-old boy (!), and now I feel like that boy is back. Clearly, it’s my natural state. Now after more than a year of not really having to dress for anyone but myself—the only onsite gig I had was outside in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, so I never even unzipped my coat—I need to kick myself back into professional mode.  How am I going to start dressing like a grown-up again? My Covid weight gain isn’t making it any easier.

And let’s not even talk about bras, because my whole philosophy on them has changed and there’s no going back.

All my makeup needs replacing

I stopped wearing eye makeup about a week after the shutdown in March of 2020, because I wasn’t seeing anybody. (I didn’t give up foundation, as I still had to look at myself in the mirror.) That means it ALL needs replacing according to the experts as well as everybody I’ve ever asked for makeup tips.

Once I replace it, I face the bigger question: Do I still know how to put it on? And did I ever? Time to crank up some YouTube tutorials.

I still don’t want to go to parties

Okay, no one’s throwing big parties in my circle yet, but long before the pandemic, I was the queen of avoiding social occasions. I have no regrets, but I feel like people aren’t going to be understanding about it anymore and just assume everyone’s eager to rush into any opportunity for a get-together. I DO feel that way about my family and friends, but I’m still me, the person who hides in the kitchen at parties until enough time has passed that I’m allowed to leave graciously.

My tolerance for “performative” time at work has diminished considerably

This is happening to a lot of people out there: I no longer want to spend time in an office just to prove I have a work ethic. 

I’m a freelancer, so when I get paid, it’s not because I’m putting in a certain number of hours, it’s because I’m providing a specific service. In the past, I’d often go to work and sit in some swing space all day, proving my devotion to the task with my presence. I’m done with that, but is the outside world? 

When I work from home, I get all the work done without the social awkwardness around a shared space I’ll disappear from in a few weeks and having to spend $15 on a New York City lunch. I’m thrilled to go in when it’s needed, but my tolerance for unnecessary face time is basically nil.

People might come over to my house again

We were always that chaotic, messy house; whenever I watch TV and one character drops in on another (a staple of far too many shows; how often does this really happen?), I always marvel at how visitor-ready their fictional homes are. This is not us. 

With almost no houseguests for over a year, we’ve stopped noticing the kitchen drawers that aren’t quite aligned, the spots on the bathroom ceiling, and the frayed upholstery on the couch. 

We have people coming over for a small graduation party in a few weeks and I’m honestly ashamed of the state of things, plus I have no time to deal with the bigger issues. I had a free “off the hook” for a year but now that we have to be respectable again, I get exhausted just thinking about it.

It’s all going to be fine

All of this aside, I’m still so happy with the direction we’re going. Last year, my sister’s birthday was a socially distanced lunch in the park, with all of us sitting on different park benches; this year we gathered in a restaurant (Benihana!), maskless, and I couldn’t hug everybody enough. As we’ve done before, as we will again… we will adjust. Ready or not, here I come.

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About Laurie Ulster

A transplanted Canadian living in New York, Laurie Ulster is a freelance writer and a TV producer who somehow survived her very confusing adolescence as the lone female Star Trek fan in middle school. She writes about pop culture, lifestyle topics, feminism, food, and other topics for print, digital, podcasts, and TV.

View all posts by Laurie Ulster