Writes Maeve McTaggart
Once bitten, twice as shy… to hear the Taoiseach recently say “the end is truly in sight,” left me more hollow than hopeful – it’s been a year, it doesn’t surprise me. Quoting Wham! However – and one of my least favourite Christmas songs in March – definitely does surprise me (and perhaps says something… I’m just not sure what.) Resilience is exhausting, getting up every day to work, learn, rest and socialise from home and acting like it’s a choice is exhausting. To hear “the end is truly insight,” after almost a year of listening to it’s synonyms… is exhausting and frankly, difficult to believe in.
Moving back into March again is disconcerting; welcoming the weather and grand stretch in the evenings is nice, but realising it marks a whole year since we just lived without constantly calculating for COVID, it’s risks and regulations is dizzying.
I started this pandemic as I intended to go on: hyper-informed. Daily notifications of case, death and ICU numbers were on, I watched the news at nine o’clock and knew the names of the Health Correspondents; I think it did more harm than good. As News Editor, this is an embarrassing confession: I haven’t watched the news in full in weeks. And I deleted the Twitter app from my phone. Opting for articles allows me to control when I confront the bad news, without it hitting me when I am not ready, frazzling my brain and ruining my day.
While it may be a seemingly reasonable way to cope with uncertainty, stress and fear – by knowing everything you can about the pandemic, the virus and its variants – it is just a way to get caught in a loop. At the beginning of the first semester, I said something similar but I will say it again: it is okay to turn off the news.
It is not an excuse to be uninformed or to indifferently zone out of reality, but it’s a way to exert some sort of control over a life that seems, right now, very uncontrollable. You need to make space for yourself to rest so that you can keep going.
When Michéal Martin said, “the end is truly in sight,” it’s not that I didn’t want to believe it, just that I’m not sure how much energy I have to be attaching to random dates for The End of COVID. So, we’ll keep going, looking after ourselves and those around us in the process. Even if that sometimes includes watching Netflix while the news is on and catching up when your head feels it’s in the right space again. We’re getting through it, and this grand stretch in the evenings certainly can’t hurt.