Learn to step outside with a mask

After being self-quarantined for the past few months, I ventured out to get a small plant from a neighbor in the community. My experience in the process made me rethink many aspects of life -as it is now.

Anyone who has been indoors for the past few months trying to reduce their exposure to the outside world, and having stopped following the news and stats by the minute, would have sorted out a new normalcy and gotten into the sweet-spot of life amidst all the chaos. New friends and acquaintances, new virtual communities, new activities, new ways of engaging with our circle, budget-based cooking to lavish spending on food items specifically… you get the hint.

I was pleasantly surprised when one of our friends in the community offered a small plant that I could come and pick up. I dressed up for the ordeal and drove by. At the onset, it was great to feel the breeze while driving… I have definitely missed driving. Got to see many trees fallen over (aftermath of the storm) and kids playing outside – some of them wearing masks and others finding it difficult to hold them in place. There were couples walking on the trails, some with masks and others were not wearing it. Was I paranoid to keep looking whether people were continuing to wear masks or not?

We reached the place and the host offered us to sit on her patio chairs and chat for a bit before sharing the plants. We were all wearing masks. I was talking to a real person face-to-face after a very long time I realized. We sat at a distance and chatted for a few minutes and then left. However, in the process I realized so many things about myself.

  1. I wear glasses and found it really difficult to breathe and see while wearing glasses (as they were getting clouded by the fog)
  2. I could not talk comfortably with a mask on for more than a minute
  3. I ended up holding my glasses in my hands most of the time to help me breathe
  4. As there was a slight breeze, I ended up brushing hair off my face frequently (Yes.. I was touching my face frequently)
  5. I ended up repeating myself and had to talk loudly (and even lean towards the person to be heard)
  6. Due to the breeze and not wearing my glasses (as I wanted to talk), I ended up getting dust in my eyes, which I was constantly removing (I remembered the guidelines not to touch the eyes)
  7. After 5 minutes, I found it hard to breathe and talk with the mask on and ended up looking away and moving the mask off my face and catch a breath

After a few minutes – we felt I was not ready to step outdoors yet and we bid farewell and left. I felt very uncomfortable. I have been sewing masks but never wore one to see how comfortable it feels to do normal day to day activities for hours together. My respect for doctors and emergency workers went up significantly.

I came back home feeling dejected about my lack of ability to follow the basic guidelines and asked my family how they felt. First time while wearing a mask, one of them nearly fainted, another found it difficult to speak. They did not give up the next day and wore it in the yard and tried again, figuring out a way to wear the glasses while wearing the mask.

If you are a parent trying to send your children to school, would suggest you to help them wear their mask and practice breathing and talking and just feeling comfortable with it before letting them step out and figure it out as they go – especially if they wear glasses, it becomes even more critical.

Fourth time was the charm for me to get to breathe and talk comfortably while wearing glasses outdoors without ending up touching my face and following the guidelines.

If you have any tips to wear the mask and perform activities safely, please share them for the benefit of others.

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