My first job out of college was working at a big city hospital outpatient psychiatric clinic.

One of the patients I met was a 50-year-old woman with agoraphobia, an anxiety disorder where people fear being in places where they may feel trapped or hard to escape.

This can be in crowds, enclosed spaces.  For this woman, going to the grocery store or a business event with her husband caused immense panic.

And when she would come home, she would need to take to her bed sometimes for days afterward because the emotional energy she had to muster to go out and be situations she felt were overwhelming, exhausted her.

But now as we are on the cusp of a reopening of our lives, I find myself understanding this woman and her fears a bit better.  I am an extrovert.  I love being around people. But I am not sure how to navigate this new order.

Like so many, I’ve spent the last year pretty much inside: within the walls of my house and the confines of my neighborhood and am grateful that I have had the privilege to do so.

When I stepped into a nearby pharmacy recently to get my first vaccine, it was the first time I’d been in any retail establishment in more than a year, and it freaked me out, seeing strangers.

Each of us has our own risk tolerance.  Because of some health issues with my family members, mine has been pretty low.   Others have not been as restrictive with their activity.

So, I am wondering, how do we feel comfortable going out again, connecting with people in person?