The whole time that Covid has invaded our lives, all everyone kept saying was “I can’t wait till we can be normal again” and “I am so excited to be done with these masks.” But what is normal? Do we even know what that is anymore? What do the masks actually do for us, besides keep our face warm in the winter?
In March 2020 our world was transformed by a deadly disease called the CoronaVirus, also known as Covid-19. Now, everyone already knows the ins and outs of Covid. Some may say it ruined their high school years. Some may say it ruined their mental health. Others may say it connected them to family and friends, or it helped them create friendships they never would have had. Whichever category you fall under for your experience with Covid is irrelevant right now, because it’s over. We’re back to normal!!! Well, our old normal. Is our normal to wear masks in the stores, or is it sharing drinks with 5 of your friends at dinner? I feel like both of these are normal. We’ve been living with Covid for two years now, so it’s become normal for us. Bringing a mask everywhere you go is normal. But, not having to wear a mask is also normal. Everyone is throwing around the word normal, but what is normal? Our world has been shifted so much from quarantined in your house to no masks anywhere. We have gone through so much change and adversity these past two years that no one really knows what to expect. It’s almost impossible to keep wishing for things to go “back to normal” because the world is advancing and developing right in front of our eyes. Our world is never going to go back to what it was in the beginning of 2020. That is something we just have to accept. It is a good thing, we can make it a good thing. We can make our new normal.
Another thing that Covid brought to us were masks. We’ve known what masks were our whole life. They were always sold at supermarkets for doctors or for people who have weak immune systems. But when Covid hit everyone wore a mask. I remember the first time I put on a mask was to pick up pizza for my parents, and I felt so weird! I thought I was going to be the only one, and that I was going to look weird. It’s funny how times have changed. Now, it’s weird to think about not wearing a mask. It’s a part of our daily life now. If you go to school, mall, restaurant there’s always going to be a sign that says “wear your mask” and there’s also always going to be a box of masks in case you forgot yours. It can be annoying to always have to put a mask on, because of many things. People can get acne from the mask, the mask gets itchy, it can hurt the backs of your ears, it’s hard to breathe in it if you’re talking for a while, just to name a few. But instead of thinking about all of the ways masks suck, why not think of how different life will be without masks?
The masks protect us from Covid, but they also protect our anxiety. They bury our faces away from everyone. For someone with anxiety and/or depression, going to the store with a mask on might make them feel less worried about going to the store in general. Most people can’t recognize others with a mask on, which can also be a positive for people who just want to go somewhere for one thing not to have happy hour with 5 people they haven’t seen in a long time. If you’re a person with a lot of insecurities about your face, the mask helps hide those insecurities from others. I know it’s good to embrace insecurities because it’s not what’s on the outside that matters but it’s what’s on the inside. Those phrases are VERY much true. However, for kids in high school who don’t go to school sometimes because of their insecurities, having the mask as a shelter can become a helpful thing for anxious individuals. Another thing that masks do is hide our facial expressions. If you’re someone who wears their emotions on your sleeve, this is great for you. You don’t have to have people coming up to you every five seconds asking why you’re angry, because they won’t be able to see any expression from you. For older kids who have bad acne as well, it’s a way to cover that up without the makeup and unnatural things. Even though it’s normal for everyone to have acne, it can be some kids’ biggest insecurities.
Now, with the mask mandate being lifted, I think we should take into consideration everyone’s feelings surrounding this. Not everyone is going to be wearing a mask, some are. If you are it doesn’t mean you’re a loser, if you’re not it doesn’t mean you’re too cool. Everyone is going through the shift right now. And once we throw our masks out (hopefully for good this time) let’s remember that we’re all in this together. All of the kids we’ve known for the whole year in school are going to be the exact same kids with or without the mask. It’s going to be a change, but think back to our first experience with masks and how insane and weird it felt. The same feelings might occur, or they might not. Whatever your feeling is, you are not alone! We lived through Covid, and were hopefully going to be able to see everyone’s BEAUTIFUL faces in stores, restaurants and schools.
Lexi is a senior at Sweet Home High School and previously wrote for the Panther Press where she was the editor for the News section for two years. Lexi is now the Opinion section editor of The Panther Eye. She plays volleyball for the Varsity team at Sweet Home.