Ready to Re-enter the World

How has the pandemic changed you?

As the world transitions back to a sense of normalcy, are you going to be the same person you were when the pandemic began?

That question resonates throughout our monthly feature, Stories of Our Neighbors, by acclaimed local author Lori Jakiela. This month, singer/songwriter Emily Rodgers shares her journey and her excitement to re-emerge into society as a changed person.

Most of us have had our lives reshaped over the past year, and we have the opportunity to bring our better selves out of hibernation as we reconnect with family, friends and co-workers. Now, more than ever, we could use positivity in our relationships.

A February report from KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation), a nonprofit organization focusing on national health issues, found that during the pandemic and recession, about 4 in 10 U.S. adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, up from 1 in 10 who reported those symptoms from January to June 2019. Our nation and our community are struggling and will continue to struggle. The KFF report notes that “the mental health impact of disasters outlasts the physical impact.”

Having survived the pandemic and the isolation of being socially distant, I remain steadfast in the belief that, like everyone, I deserve to be treated well by the people in my life. But I want to blend that with being compassionate and understanding. I take care of myself by telling people how I feel their actions are affecting me, but I also acknowledge that most people are doing their best — even when that might not be good enough.

Now that I will have a chance to interact with people again, I want to understand them better and accept their shortcomings. This applies to my closest relationships as well as casual interactions. Instead of assuming the worst, I can ask the people I love, “What did you mean by that?” The person who cuts me off in traffic might be a bad driver or maybe he just made a mistake. Bad customer service can mar an experience, but it’s doubtful anyone sets out to do their job poorly.

Being understanding doesn’t mean being accepting. I’ll still stand up for myself, but I’ll try to do it in a way that doesn’t villainize the other person. And I hope I will be given the same understanding.

Brian can be reached at

Categories: Editor