I'm looking forward to spending time with my friends again, but now isn't the time to break the rules.
Jun 1 marked the exit of the circuit breaker, a date which many — including myself — had been looking forward to initially. Even the evening sky on the last day of the circuit breaker, which was embellished with a straight rainbow, seemed to herald more positive times ahead.
But as the end of the circuit breaker approached us, it became increasingly clear to me that it would be safer and more responsible to stay home and hold off on any social activities.
Spotting the "straight rainbow" gave me a sense of hope for the times to come, even if I knew that I wouldn't be leaving the house post-circuit breaker.
PHOTO CREDIT: ASHLEY TAN
When the final date of the circuit breaker was first announced, I received several messages from friends whom I'd been wanting to meet since I returned from Europe.
We were bubbling with excitement at the thought of meeting up again, reliving old memories and revelling in one another's physical company. As the days closed in on the end of the circuit breaker, news alerts highlighted that social contact would continue to be minimised.
In fact, the only people we were allowed to be visiting in Phase 1 were our grandparents.
Though I was initially eager to meet up with friends, we soon realised we would have to postpone our plans after the circuit breaker ended.
PHOTO CREDIT: ASHLEY TAN
Knowing that we need to be socially responsible doesn't make it any easier
Many have spoken about embracing the "new normal", a term that unconsciously brings annoyance. The truth is that most of us don't like the idea of having to change our ways and adopt behaviours which deviate from ones that we have been so comfortable with.
This irritation is compounded by the fact that the lifestyles we will need to adopt might put a damper on the way we conduct ourselves socially.
We all know that we need to exercise greater caution and try to avoid planning large-scale gatherings in the near future, regardless of whether official restrictions are lifted.
Yet knowing that does not make carrying it out any easier, especially since many of us regard our youth as the only time in our lives when we can be somewhat carefree.
It's normal to feel frustrated, especially for those of us who had summer travel plans cancelled.
PHOTO CREDIT: IAN DOOLEY VIA UNSPLASH
While the official guidelines have restricted social activities even during Phase 1, there are people who have tried to meet up with friends surreptitiously throughout the COVID-19 period. Finding ways to skirt around the rules or even flout them directly isn't impossible, after all.
If my friends ask me to meet up during Phase 1 now, I would honestly feel disappointed at their lack of care and discretion rather than excited. The prospect of meeting our friends may be appealing, but now isn't the best time.
Doing our part by choosing to exercise caution
We need to confront the reality that is before us and accept the fact that community spread can only be reduced and contained if we play our part. With speeches and media posts stressing the need to "flatten the curve" and further preserve its plateau when it has been reached, staying socially responsible to safeguard our communities is crucial.
In fact, it is in everyone's interests that we choose to not to leave the house unnecessarily or opt to head home after school instead of going out with friends.
If we care about our friends and family, choose to side with the better part of our judgement. Keeping a distance from them is, paradoxically, a way of showing concern. This is exactly why I'm holding off on leaving the house or engaging in any overt social activities until Phase 2.
Me (right) catching up with a good friend whom I hadn't spoken to in a while via video call.
PHOTO CREDIT: ASHLEY TAN
Withholding from social activities is hard, but we can do it
We might not be comfortable with admitting this openly, but youths are, in fact, extremely creative and resilient.
We are able to switch fluently from standard English to more light-hearted lingo used in cyberspace ("mood", "stan", "slay"). We have proven to be successful in transitioning from in-person to online classes, all while creating tongue-in-cheek jokes and memes about graduating from #ZoomUniversity in the process.
We have even found ways to make the circuit breaker period more entertaining with special food deliveries to friends as well as late-night video calls that involve funny virtual backgrounds, laughter, and many rounds of SpyFall.
As we exit the circuit breaker and transition into the subsequent phases, let's keep in mind that if anything, COVID-19 has proven that we can, and will, adapt.
The best part? The more measures we take to protect ourselves and loved ones, the faster we'll be able to get back to some of the things that we were used to and enjoyed.
BANNER AND TEASER PHOTO CREDIT: MOHAMMAD FAHIM VIA UNSPLASH
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