I’m entering the next phase of my life – and you are too

Our lives are made up of phases. We’re children, we’re adolescents, we’re adults. We go to school and then graduate. We change jobs. Some of us get married or have children. We move.

When major changes happen in our lives, it’s easy to feel a definitive before and after, a demarcation that separated one phase of our lives from the next. The pandemic was like that. A graduation, a move, a baby are other big changes that draw a line in the proverbial sands of time.

Right now I feel my life changing. We’re not near “post-pandemic” times globally yet, but I’ve started referring to this time as “post-vaccination” for myself and others experiencing newfound freedom after getting our shots. My calendar is filling up, in the short term and the long term. My work is changing, as movies reach theaters, publicists host in-person events and our readers yearn for new content. Internally I’m changing too. I can feel myself craving a new kind of therapy, after a year focused on talk and emotional work, I’m ready for something more solutions-based, like cognitive behavioral therapy.

As we emerge from our quarantines, see loved ones, meet strangers and have new experiences, we’re all fundamentally new people, changed by pandemic in common and unique ways. It’s exciting and scary, but I’m confident in our ability to adapt.
COVID changed the world forever. It’s just too soon to tell exactly how.

I know I’m not the only one feeling the change after reading this story from Rebecca King, one of our USA TODAY network reporters.

There’s a feeling in the air perhaps best described as a crisp notebook and new shoes on the first day of school. Or the house being freshly cleaned. Or the clock striking midnight on New Year’s Eve. A feeling of new beginnings. Folks are grappling with what the future looks like in a time when things are returning to normal and will simultaneously never be the same again.

We call it refreshing, albeit challenging. Historians call it the end of a “mass disruptive event.”

Gary Darden, associate professor of history and chair of the Department of Social Sciences and History at Fairleigh Dickinson University, defines a mass disruptive event as “something that unfolds over a long period of time and has a profound impact on nearly every American’s life.”

In the United States, we can point to World War I, The Great Depression and the Spanish flu as mass disruptive events, which are different, Darden says, from pinpoint catastrophes like 9/11 or even the war in Afghanistan, as there was no draft.

After nearly every “MDE,” we can see a cultural shift.

Spanish flu and World War I, for example, are the reasons your bathroom is tiled. Exiting both a war where conscripted soldiers were living in filth, and a chillingly deadly pandemic, a cultural reset occurred, Darden said. And thus began the rise of tiled bathrooms, kitchens with linoleum floors and metal bed frames in children’s rooms.

“You could douse metal and tile in bleach or vinegar,” said Darden. “Fabric or wood surfaces are not as easy to clean.”

It’s too early to say what the long-term effects of the pandemic will have on our culture – what future historians will look back on and judge as the shift caused by COVID-19. But many have theories.

Darden believes that masks are here to stay – not for everyday use, but during flu seasons or while sick.

“For years before the pandemic, we’d see people in Asian countries wearing masks during flu season. I think most Americans rolled their eyes at that,” Darden said. “But now, the idea of knowing I have a cold or am sick, I wouldn’t dare go to a grocery store. I don’t want to be responsible for giving someone else an illness.”

Today’s reads

Jesse Tyler Ferguson got a ‘bit of skin cancer’ removed. Here’s what you should know about SPF. It’s the 35th anniversary of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” if you can believe it.I asked myself, could he really take a day off in 2021? Just in time for Father’s Day this month, our USA TODAY Network Storyteller’s Project is sharing stories and experiences about fatherhood. Check it out here. It’s getting hot in here, but you won’t have to spend a fortune to stay cool, hopefully. Our Money team has tips for keeping your air conditioning bill down this summer without boiling in you house. Our new mental health columnist Sara Kuburic, a therapist who specializes in identity, relationships, and moral trauma, offers her advice to Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan and other parents on how to adjust to life with a new baby.

Prince Harry, Duchess Meghan and their first child, Archie.
Today’s pet

Two special pups are joining us for today’s newsletter.
Gracie, left, and her grandpa Jax.

“This is Gracie on the left and her grandpa Jax on the right,” says owner Liz Levesque. “They are inseparable and love taking over my recliner every chance they get.”

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