Summer is always full of expectations for achieving fun, excitement, relaxation, new adventures, parties, laughter, and endless other wonderful things all in a very short amount of time. It’s an impossible goal during the best of times because our ideals and reality usually don’t align perfectly. The pandemics that relentlessly spread across the world in the spring of 2020 effectively sidelined all positive expectations that were held for the summer of 2020. The pandemic isn’t “over” – it’s not the kind of thing that has a conclusion date. In the United States, increased vaccination levels and greatly decreased numbers of new COVID-19 cases have led to the dramatic easing up of restrictions.
The relaxed restrictions are giving everybody something of a new “normal” – more normal than what everybody’s been living, but still not exactly what it used to be. Everyone coped with a summer of disappointments large and small.
The things people missed last summer have started taking place again. Travel, concerts, sporting events, summer camps, parties, movies in a theater, visits to the beach, outings to museums and other points of interest. Most activities do have some measures in place to help keep people safe. There are more stringent capacity restrictions, various mask requirements, negative COVID test requirements, proof of vaccination requirements, and things of that nature. You can’t just up and go anywhere without first taking time to find out what safety measures are in place, so you can take whatever steps necessary to be in compliance with the requirements that seem to be continually changing and evolving.
Not the same as it was
Just because something you enjoy is now available again, don’t expect it to be just as you remember it. You really need to manage your expectations. If you have children, you’ll be doing them and yourself a favor if you do what’s necessary to manage their expectations, also.
When you have been longing for something so fiercely, things can take on an idealistic glow in our minds. We perceive things thought of idealistically as being better than they actually are in reality, and that can make the actual experience much less satisfying.
There are also other impediments to having an ideal summer. The pandemic has had a serious financial impact on many people, leading to a lot of business closures and job losses. It’s hard to afford a vacation under these circumstances. Some people who were sickened by COVID are still not quite up to resuming their previously normal activities. Others who had deaths of family members or friends as a result of the pandemic may just not be in the right headspace to savor summer fun. Because the school year was logistically complicated for so many students, summer school may have been necessary to complete the school year or get ready for the next grade level.
Nationwide, we’ve made it through what is hopefully the worst of a terrible time. As I write this, new case numbers in some areas are rising again, although hopefully we’ll never see the huge numbers that flooded the nation for so many months. We’re also seeing different strains of the the coronavirus wreaking havoc, so we have to keep paying close attention to what’s going on in our particular area and take precautions accordingly.
Despite those caveats, the situation is obviously very much improved. Don’t feel badly if you don’t really feel like rushing out into society and celebrating in big ways. Your priorities and preferences may have changed. Disrupted social circles may have disbanded, leaving you with the necessity of finding or establishing new ones. Your ways of dealing with the pandemic may have been in opposition to ways of those you normally socialized with, straining or ending those connections. It may take time for new social relationships to take the place of ones that no longer fit your life.
Remember that it’s not just you who is experiencing all these road-bumps and complications.
Things aren’t always how they appear
Whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap of looking at people’s social media feeds and taking everything you see there at face value. It’s fine to be curious about what other people are doing. You can get inspiration, motivation and support that way, although sometimes you can be left with feeling that you’re missing out on wonderful things that other people are doing.
Remind yourself that most people don’t post about their financial issues, their difficult toddlers, their bratty teenagers, their job insecurities, health issues, problems with aging parents, disappointments, disillusionment, and other things that aren’t in some way picture perfect. I do share a lot of the ugly stuff on my feeds, and a percentage of other people certainly do as well, but for the most part people carefully curate the things they share. It’s absolutely fine to do that, but you have to not let it make you feel badly about the realities in your own life.
Adapting to circumstances
It’s absolutely OK to adjust expectations and activities. My son missed out on summer camp last year because of Covid. He’s now 16 and we’ve discovered that camps he’s still young enough for had to cut back enrollments so much that we couldn’t sign him up for any of them. There are a few sports camps he could still do, given our complicated family situation, he hasn’t had the opportunities to develop any real interests in group sports for the past six years.
We scoured the Internet again this morning thinking of things he is interested in. I’m going to try and get him some individual surfing lessons and scuba diving lessons so he can experience a couple of new things and see if either of them interest him at all. It will take some coordination to get him to those things, but hopefully I’ll be able to work it out. Fingers crossed.
We’re thinking ‘outside the box’ just as I think we’ve all needed to learn to do in the last couple of years. Life doesn’t always go according to plan. We figured out how to amuse all cells during lockdowns and quarantine … we can figure this out, too.
What are you or your family doing differently this summer? Send me a note to share! I’d love to hear from you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.