Pamela A. Zeiser By: Pamela A. Zeiser
Associate Professor of Political Science
View profile and Diary

20 Nov 2020 : Pandemic Fatigue Has Gotten the Better of Me

If I hear some version of the saying “we are tired of the virus, but the virus is not tired” again anytime soon, I won’t be held responsible for my behavior.

I know the saying is true. I know the reasons it gets repeated over and over. I’ve even said it to others. I also know I’m suffering from “pandemic fatigue.”

Knowing all that doesn’t change how I feel. My household is one person – me – and I am very tired of spending days on end alone. I live nearly 2,000 miles from my immediate family, one of whom died a few months ago. Phone calls and Zoom are really no substitute for simple human contact. Especially when dealing with grief. After 22 years, my mom’s annual Thanksgiving trip to visit me is cancelled for her safety. I don’t know if I’ll see my family for Christmas; I have never NOT spent Christmas with my family.

I’m a professor burned out on creating online instructional content for courses that I’ve only ever taught in person. I miss class discussions that happen naturally from lecture and student questions, instead of being planned in advance and structured with required posts and replies. I miss my students. I miss chatting with them in the 10 minutes before class starts; I even miss the forced laughs at my poor attempts at humor during an in-person lecture. I’m tired of trying to convince them – in the middle of pandemic, financial difficulties, mental health crises, and disrupted futures – that, yes, it really does matter whether they cite their sources or not.

I’m tired of reading about layoffs, furloughs, and pay cuts at other universities and worrying when they’ll hit mine.

I’m tired of trying to assess how risky a given errand is, given that I live in a state that is “100% open.” I’m tired of trying to assess how risky it is to visit with a friend who, like me, rarely goes anywhere. I’m tired of being shocked when someone offers me a friendly hug, because it happens so rarely now – and then worrying I risked two lives by accepting it.

I’m tired of limiting my risk, wearing a mask, and making all the right choices to protect my community as well as myself when I live in a community where mask-wearing is not enforced and the positivity rate is rising no matter what I, as one person, do.

I’m tired of politicians who not only ignore the science, but actively hamper it as well. I’m tired of living in a state and county that seem to do less contact tracing than my university alone does. I’m tired of false dichotomies between “the virus” and “the economy.” I’m tired of reading about other countries who have done better with the pandemic, when my country simply won’t follow suit.

I’m tired.

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