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What if the most important thing in life is to figure out what we really think, want, feel? What if our biggest problem is the influence others wield over us, be they close acquaintances, family or far away aspirational figures, because we don’t know what we want? This thought occurred to me as I was packing my suitcase. Why did I want to take that particular piece of clothing—for comfort, to please someone else, or maybe just convention—you can’t be seen in anything but a dress if you are a certain age—or something equally ridiculous. And right then my brain exploded with the knowledge that I’ve been doing this all of my life, with e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.

And then the thought, ‘but is this always a bad thing?’

It has taken nearly two years for Covid to finally exert its weight on me enough that I feel like a drowning woman at times. And I know I’m lucky. But still… still there are these constant decisions one must make to protect, nurture and grow oneself, not to mention the responses to nurture, protect and respond to those close to us. If you are an introvert and a ‘Highly Sensitive Person’ (HSP is a thing, researched and published by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D) this is a thick layer of complexity added to our already complex human existence, now compounded by layers of the Covid Effect.

I know some of you are struggling too, I’ve read your emails and blogs and this is effecting all of us in some way. At the time of writing, to go to South Australia and back here to Alice Springs again we have to have an approved border arrival document, a vaccination certificate to show upon arrival, a downloaded and set up G2G app so they can track us, and a negative covid test result within 72 hours of returning. We are triple vaxxed, so it is different for those who cannot be vaccinated or who choose not to be. As we recently experienced traveling to Adelaide to have tests done, the travel restrictions impact access to hospitals (where both tests were performed), causing us to add a week to our time away, and the costs that incurred. There are cancelled flights to rebook as the airlines attempt to get up and running again and are struggling to be viable. These times require great flexibility and knowing one’s inner strengths and sensitivities helps with that.

The first time I had to wear a mask in March 2020, it nearly set off a panic attack for me—sweaty palms and arm pits and shallow breathing on top of jet lag was not a great start. So I have been very grateful not living in a place where, until recently, I had to wear one much at all. During the times we’ve had to wear them we started bantering about the advantages of mask wearing—to ease the discomfort probably. I began to compile a list and thought it might be a bit of fun for you to see it.

If you wear a mask…

  • You don’t have to cover your mouth when yawning (handy)
  • You don’t have to worry that you have food in your teeth (my favourite)
  • You don’t have to worry if your nose is running
  • You don’t have to worry that there are foreign objects in your moustache (not me, personally…)
  • You don’t have to clean behind your ears (the bands do it for you?)
  • You don’t have to trim or wax your moustache (again, I’ve had help from a certain moustached person in my life on this one…)
  • Don’t have to tweeze stray hairs on your chin (yep, me all the way)
  • Don’t have to wear lipstick (me too, not him…)
  • Don’t have to wear makeup on lower half of your face (except if you are going somewhere you can remove the mask and then you have this kind of two-toned look to your face)
  • It helps to stop biting your nails (it’s just too obvious to flip up your mask to nibble a digit, ya know?)
  • You can whisper expletives and no one will know what you said (goodness knows I have to repeat most of what I say anyway!)
  • If anyone asks what you said you can clean it up and lie (ok, I may have done this once…)
  • You don’t have to worry about using breath mints
  • If you have a tongue like a giraffe you can pick your nose with it and no one will see (anonymous contributor–long spotty neck, tho)
  • If you lose a front tooth no one will know
  • It covers your mouth, agape, as you study the daily restaurant specials menu on the wall (c’mon we all do this…)
  • When you fall into that ugly sleep on the plane, you don’t have to worry about the drool out the corner of your mouth (contributed by a friend…)
  • When correctly fitted, a mask seems to hold up the ever drooping folds under my chin (ok, wishful thinking…)

I’m sure you can add a thing or two to this list. Or start another list of things not to do when wearing a mask, my personal favourite is ‘sneeze’. Don’t do it, very messy and gross.

The thing is, life is a very messy journey trying to figure out how one feels about everything, if they feel anything, even. Sometimes, having no response is what I wish for, because being highly sensitive seldom allows for that. I’m hoping you have some time to do whatever makes you feel peaceful and authentic in the coming months. I’ll be wearing my mask until I feel ok to remove it and not transmit covid to anyone, because call me late for dinner, but don’t call me prematurely de-maskulated.

(If you agree or don’t agree with mask wearing is not my purpose here. These are my views and a bit of fun and if you have your own views you can play along nicely or start your own blog.)