How Did the Pandemic Change You?

Four years ago the world shut down. We’re at the anniversary of that traumatic time, and the other night it made me reflect on how that experience changed me. How has my behavior changed since a global pandemic and lockdown?

A few things…

  • Health: I still take vitamin C every morning. Started during the pandemic in earnest, and I’m still doing it. I also started getting my flu shot regularly since the pandemic. Pre-pandemic it was sporadic, if I happened to be in the doctor’s office in the fall and they recommended it, I’d shrug and say sure. Now I go out of my way to get it. A friend and I go on a walk every week, and I think it started during COVID. And now there’s probably more concern and care around being sick—staying home, wearing a mask, etc.
  • Tips: I’m a better tipper now. Pre-pandemic I was an OK tipper, usually 15%, rarely more. Never at over-the-counter restaurants (they’re not serving me, why bother?). Now I regularly tip 20-25%, and always give at least something at over-the-counter restaurants. (That feels like bragging, but I think of it more as owning up to a lifetime of mediocre tipping.) Watching the plight of frontline workers made me realize how much we rely on them and how poorly we pay them.
  • Online ordering: I never cared much for online ordering before the pandemic. Didn’t have the app, didn’t care much to go through the hassle. Now I vastly prefer it. No wait, instant pick up. It’s faster than drive thru.
  • Church: After a lifetime of weekly (or more) church attendance, now I rarely go. In fairness, this started before the pandemic. Turmoil at our church paired with our kids’ lack of interest started the interruption to that lifetime habit. Then we switched churches. We went frequently enough that we met people and started to get invested, but the pandemic broke that habit hard. For a while we did online services pretty regularly, but as things went on we did less and less. I can blame mountain biking a bit too, since I have a hard time not biking on a beautiful weekend morning. I make it sound like I’ve given up, which isn’t true, but it’s maybe closer to reality than I care to admit.
  • Hope in humanity: I think my faith in humankind took a hit during the pandemic. I’m a pretty hopeful person in general. At an internship in college, a coworker accused me of being idealistic. Guilty as charged. My typical sign off during the pandemic was “Stay healthy, stay hopeful.” But watching people respond to the pandemic, especially the politicalization of a global health crisis and the utter selfishness of much of the evangelical world—masquerading as “freedom”—was especially disillusioning. To be fair, my disillusionment with evangelicalism has been long in the making. But this was the last straw. How do you care more about your supposed freedom to do whatever (go to a restaurant, not wear a mask, etc.) than the grandma you’re killing with your choices? I don’t think I’ll ever get over that one. (Again, I make it sound as though I’m dismissing all evangelicals, and I’m not. Some are good friends. But it feels as though there’s a poison in the well and that’s hard to overlook.) This is perhaps more a change in my opinion of others, but I think it’s still taken my idealism down a notch or two. I’m still pretty hopeful. That’s who I am. But damn, some people are assholes.

I think that’s it. Sometimes it feels like there should be more, that COVID-19 should have had a bigger impact. But I suppose we are creatures of habit, and it’s hard to break a habit or make a new one. I already worked at home, so I had already embraced many of those rhythms.

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