It was a Wednesday afternoon when I noticed the unread email pop up. The subject line read “Notification of Potential COVID Exposure.” I clicked on the email and read that someone who was sitting near me at an event had tested positive. I don’t think I would have thought that much of it if it weren’t for two things: I was supposed to read at an event for my writer’s group that evening, and I was not feeling awesome. My booster shot was administered the previous day, and I was reacting as I had upon receiving my second vaccine dose. Still, I reached out to my writer’s group and we agreed I should take an at-home rapid test.
I sat on my couch waiting for the timer to notify me that 15 minutes had passed. My phone buzzed. It was a text from a friend I’d spoken to at the event. They’d tested positive. It was too late in the day for me to wait in line at the urgent care and get my results in time for the reading event. I texted the group leader to let her know and we agreed it would be best for me to cancel. That week, I got texts from several friends notifying me of exposure or canceling plans because they’d been exposed and were waiting on test results.
It’s moments like these that remind me of my very human desire for stability and certainty. I want things to happen as they were scheduled to happen. When something that’s out of my control throws a wrench in my carefully crafted schedule, all sorts of feelings come up. When it’s ‘rona related, even the smallest wrench can trigger the accumulated feelings of the past two years.
I’ve also noticed fatigue start to creep in. Mayhaps you’ve felt it, too. One tool that I usually fall back on is my creativity. If one thing falls through, how can I pivot and adjust? The kicker is that I am not an endlessly creative being. It gets to a certain point where I’m over it—over being flexible and negotiating with circumstances beyond my control.
It is at this point that the good Christian writer in me feels compelled to say that Jesus is our only certainty. And in these uncertain times, we can lean on the certainty of his love and promises. I believe this to be true. However, when I hear this kind of thing, I act upon it as a way to bypass all the feelings I’d rather not feel. As if the certainty of Jesus’ love means I’m not supposed to ever feel bad. I dismiss the messages my feelings are communicating to me because I think I “should” feel differently.
I think that might be the crux of the fatigue. The striving to close the gap between what is and what I think is supposed to be. It’s a weird line to walk—acknowledging what is out of our control without surrendering our agency. I can’t say I’ve mastered it. Maybe I never will. What I can say is that sometimes things are a big deal, even when we don’t want them to be. Sometimes a simple text from a friend canceling dinner plans hits us like a sucker punch. Sometimes the time we are able to spend with others leaves us feeling more alone than we felt before.
We are whole human people with a range of emotions. For me, that means I can get fatigued or frustrated by something I don’t think should be a big deal. Sometimes, the fatigue is the result of deeply ingrained habits and expectations. Sometimes, it’s the result of something I can’t control or fix.
If you’re feeling the strain of cancellation fatigue, I’m sorry. I’ve found it helpful to journal or take a walk or lay on the floor and have a brief pity party. I hope you find ways to experience rootedness and rest in the midst of all that is uncertain.