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I'm Vaccinated. And Still Wearing a Mask.

Recently, the CDC released a statement saying fully vaccinated people can not wear their mask unless they are in a huge crowd. That means grocery stores, shopping, walking, restaurants, and every day activities can be carried out like normal life before the pandemic. But after months of wishing to return to “normal,” I find myself clinging to my mask, refusing to remove it in a public setting.

But why don’t I trust the CDC? That’s the thing--I do. I trust science and the vaccine and information released by official government organizations. That leads me to believe that my reluctance to remove the mask comes from 2 main things: my fear of change and fear of others.

The first is pretty obvious. I think most of us struggle with change, whether it's a new school, new routine, or changing activity. I thought I would be more used to it by now though, especially after a year of such profound and frequent changes. My English teacher announced we were changing classrooms today, and said “After this year, what’s one more change?” And he is right--what's one more change after so many. Still, I find myself worried about this small change. It’s just taking off my mask, but it seems like so much more.

That is because we have become too comfortable with the dystopia of the pandemic. I use my mask to shield myself from the public, and have learned to hide behind it's comforting layer of fabric and isolation. But it's like many of these articles go in a circle. A year ago today I was writing about opening yourself up to change. And now I’m writing the same thing. Don’t be afraid to go back to normal. I’m still working on it, even after preaching it all of this past year. It's time to step out of my comfort zone. Even if that’s not taking off my mask just yet--maybe it's going back to the grocery store, maybe it's eating at a restaurant again. It is about taking small steps (once you are vaccinated and it's safe for you and those around you!) to return back to the life we once knew before March 2020.

The second reason I find myself questioning removing my mask is because I’m not sure if I trust those around me. There is a lot of misinformation and backlash around vaccines, and I’m worried that some people might claim they are vaccinated if they are not. There is really no way to overcome this, which is why I hope stores start asking for vaccine cards of Covid-passports to prove vaccines. I don’t want to normalize not wearing masks for those who aren’t vaccinated.

So here I am, hoping one of you reading this is having a similar experience and internal conflict. I say that until stores adopt new policies that confirm those without masks are vaccinated, I will keep my mask on. However, I don’t want this to stop me from stepping out from that piece of cloth, and taking small but mighty steps towards re-familiarizing myself with life pre-pandemic.

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