Another year has come and gone. Let’s face it, 2020 was a weird, stressful and mind-blowing year. It seemed as if, at times, the world was ending. It was hard to hope for better days when worse days kept coming month after month.
We learned new ways of interacting with those around us.
Words like social distancing and small gatherings filled our social media feeds and our news headlines. We learned how to properly wear a mask, wash our hands for 20 seconds and disinfect everything. We learned how to do school through e-learning. The word Zoom means something different than just running around, or the noise one makes when playing with tiny toy cars.
It seems like we packed a decade’s worth of fear and worry into 365 days.
Some days I thought I would open my front door and see zombies or aliens. Other days I wished I would open my front door and see anything other than desolate, quiet streets. Things have been absolutely crazy. It’s natural that a large majority of the world was stressed beyond the breaking point. Nothing seemed like a normal day, month or year.
With one year ending, a new year begins. Hope is on the horizon.
We have a vaccine, and hopefully that means a return to normal (or something close to normal). For those of us on the spectrum, 2020 has made our lives just as challenging as before the pandemic. I have never been a social butterfly. I don’t like crowds. I loathe small talk. At the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, I wasn’t too concerned about having to stay in my house for a few weeks. I like to stay in my house. I’m comfortable, and I have what I need in my house.
Unfortunately, what I thought would be a few weeks turned into eight months. Autism is just one aspect of my life. I am also chronically ill. I am on immune suppressants in hopes of controlling several severe health problems. When you’re immune compromised during a pandemic, you don’t leave the house. Correction, I have left the house to go to doctor’s appointments.
Normally, I don’t care if don’t leave my house.
But, when I’m told I can’t leave the house, I want to leave the house. I will be the first to admit that autistics like to be in control. Maybe I should clarify, we don’t like to be in control, we NEED to be in control. I love schedules just as much as any other person on the spectrum.
Prior to the life altering pandemic, I had schedules. I went grocery shopping on very specific days and very specific times. I ran all of my other errands on designated days. I even had a day set aside for Target. I love Target. My weeks were rigidly planned and executed. Thanks to COVID, I can no longer accomplish my routine. I am no longer in control.
This has been a great lesson in patience, but not one I learned willingly.
So, as we begin a new year, I hope that we find an effective way of stopping this horrible illness. I hope that COVID trends start going down instead of up. I hope that we can all find our new normal, whatever that might look like. Hopefully I can put some, however small, of my new patience to good use.
Although the current crisis in our nation has not been beneficial to anyone, it has forced us all to be a little more flexible, a little more understanding and a little more patient. As an autistic adult, these are things that are good not just for those of us on the spectrum, but they are good for everyone.
Yes, it is difficult to let go of my control over every detail in my life. But, losing control isn’t always a bad thing.