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To Mask or Not to Mask

Do you wear a mask when you go out in public? What are your reasons for wearing or not wearing a face mask? Early in the coronavirus pandemic, I thought that the concern projected by media was a lot of over-hype. Additionally, the wearing of a mask typically identified the wearer as ill and likely contagious. My initial decision to not wear a mask had a great deal to do with that stigma. I was afraid of misrepresenting myself as somebody who could infect others with a sickness that I didn’t have. I also didn’t want to be viewed as someone who could easily be swayed by unnecessary hype.

Is that really what it was all about? The fear of misrepresenting myself? I suppose maybe it was. I thought I’d left that type of thinking – worrying about what others think of me – behind me once I hit my thirties. Apparently on some level those thoughts will always be in the back of my mind. Perhaps my train of thought here is mine and mine alone. Or maybe there are others out there who think the same way. I’d like to think that I’m not the only one with these misguided thought-patterns.

Two months ago, I remember thinking that I wasn’t going to allow the fear of contracting the coronavirus change my way of living. Then the virus arrived in the states. Then the virus arrived in Iowa. Then everything started shutting down. Events were being canceled left and right. States started establishing shelter-in-place for the duration. First it was for only a couple of weeks, then a month. Then even longer. The seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic started to become very real. The hype no longer seemed to be overly dramatized. It occurred to me that even though my husband and I were not considered among the at-risk elderly, we both have health conditions that could result in a more serious health situation should we contract the virus.

My husband and I then opted to follow social-distancing guidelines advised by the CDC. This meant that we had to tell my daughter and her family not to come over for a while. This meant that we would not visit other friends or family for a while, either. I chose to start wearing a mask when going to the grocery store. (If you are a 500-Words blog reader, you’ve likely read about my first experience wearing a facemask in public.) It was difficult at first, but I quickly started to look for the positives of wearing a facemask. First, if somebody around you has an issue with body odor, you won’t have to worry about discretely covering your nose and trying to get away from the smell because your nose is already covered. Second, I shop more quickly, choosing not to linger and look at everything, as was my former habit. Though this positive is a direct result of the slightly suffocating affect of wearing the mask – the lack of lingering in the store saves money. My husband definitely views that as a positive!

I suppose, at this point, if you haven’t felt it necessary to wear a face mask, you won’t start now. No judgement. Everything’s a choice. My husband and I will continue, at least for a few more weeks, to be cautious, wear face masks, and look for the positives.

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