A year ago, on the verge of 2021, there was some optimism in putting 2020 and its all-encompassing pandemic behind us. The prospect of a vaccine was a powerful driver of an upbeat take on a new year.
A year later, vaccines are widely available, and have been embraced by most area residents, a trend reflected in provincial and national numbers. Still, we’re seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases due to the most recent variant, and restrictions are being re-imposed. The upbeat feeling about a new year we were experiencing 365 days ago seems a little misguided just now.
In that light, are we feeling any better about the prospects for 2022?
The psychological impact of switching to a new calendar aside, there will be no discernible difference between today and the day after tomorrow, as our arrival in 2022 not bringing any immediate changes. That’s not to downplay the mental shift that comes every year at this time, especially given the (more iffy) prospect of putting behind us the coronavirus pandemic that made 2021 a year also as much worth forgetting as 2020.
January 1 won’t bring an immediate end to our woes, but the new year does offer us hope for an end to a crisis that will be two years old before winter turns to spring again, though few of us believed we’d be dealing with harsh restrictions for more than a few weeks, let alone the better part of two years.
The coming of a new year is seen as a fresh start, however, and a time for deciding what needs to be changed and where to go next. It’s for these reasons that so many people make new year’s resolutions to accomplish things such as to exercise more, quit smoking, pay off debt, save more money, complete projects, get organized, further education, lose weight, and the like.
Perhaps there’s an endless optimism that we can change, that we can be better – which, of course, recognizes that we all have something in our lives that we wish to alter. Psychologists tells us this is normal human behaviour, adding that the tough part is actually following through on the impulse for self improvement. In other words, fantasizing about a better you, about an idealized version of you – most of us can actually picture ourselves that way – will remain just that: a fantasy. Unless, that is, we are willing to work hard to make the dream a reality.
It may be different in 2022, of course, as we’re champing at the bit to do at least a little bit more than has been the norm again this year (the situation just now is very much a déjà vu of 2020). Again, that will have to wait beyond January, and beyond the usual timeframe in which our resolutions falter and then fall away, typically within days or weeks of the New Year’s arrival.
Right off the hop, we’re in the midst of another pseudo-lockdown: there’ll be no running off to the gym at this point (and no guilt for not returning after the first day or two). That doesn’t prevent us, however, from getting out for a walk, or walking away from the television or dinner table.
More to the point, we’ll all have to resolve to stay the course. As the restrictions indicate, too many of us were failing to follow the guidelines – especially those about social distancing and staying home – such that there was a big jump in the number of COVID-19 cases. The accelerated use of booster vaccines does nothing to change the situation in the short- and medium-term: only by continuing to take precautions can we hope to reverse the upward trend and ensure more of us are around to enjoy the planned-for return to normalcy, however long that takes and how frustrated we’ve become.
In the meantime, it’s up to governments to focus on making booster shots available in a quick, drop-in fashion. Anything less is failure, a horrible way to start a new year.