It all started with a single photo. It was a random Tuesday morning - or maybe it was a Thursday - and I was scrolling through social media waiting for the kettle to boil. A glamour shot on the beach. A pair of gym shoes walking on a treadmill. A cute dog. A tin, tearful baby. And then, suddenly, there it was. A small white card with some nearly illegible scribbles on it:
“Holy sh*t they got their vaccine, lucky them…” I thought to myself as I tapped on my screen. I was quickly onto the next story, followed by the next, and the next, until the kettle whistled, marking the start of my day.
What started off as a quick 15-second surprise soon turned into a full-on social media frenzy from nearly everyone I followed. Vaccine cards were flying left, right, and center. Someone in New York, someone in California, someone in Utah. My brother in Texas took a selfie with his card and sent it over to the family group chat followed by a row of 💉💉💉💉 emojis.
“We get ours tomorrow!” my dad proudly declared, to which my mom chimed in: “We’ll all be vaccinated soon!”
“Think again…” I whispered, sourly. I sent over a few smiley faces and congratulated them for being “so old”.
That’s when the FOMO started to escalate.
“Which one did you get? I got Moderna!”
I’ve never been one to care much about FOMO. That’s why I found it so weird that seeing this constant flow of vaccine cards and band-aid covered arms made me feel like I was lagging behind. What was it about not getting that oh-so-coveted jab that made me so irrationally and unnecessarily angry and stressed out? My boyfriend didn’t understand, my
friend would commiserate with me via WhatsApp, and my mom tried to comfort me with: “You can’t hurry time.”
Still, I didn’t really care what anyone said or how they tried to make me feel better. I was stuck in my own vaccine-less world with nothing but a ridiculous desire to get stabbed in the arm by that little needle. So I continued to sneer whenever someone posted that they’d been vaccinated. Even when, in reality, that was a really f*cking good thing. Because the more people that are vaccinated, the quicker this ends, and the more likely we are to go back to some sense of “normality”, right?
Yeah, of course.
But, like a little kid throwing a tantrum, all I could think of was: “It’s not fair that they get to go first!” And while I was more understanding of people like my parents - both in their 60s - and my cousin - a recent mother with a surgeon for a husband - getting their shots, the FOMO continued to build up when random celebrities and high school friends were all of a sudden spending three weeks in Miami.
Especially when these spur of the moment holidays happened as soon as the vaccination process in the US opened its doors to everyone who wanted one: no ID needed, no questions asked.
“What COVID vaccine did you get?!” one of these influencers asked on their Instagram stories, “I got Moderna, but I really wanted Johnson & Johnson because it’s only one dose! Ugh, so unlucky!”
“Yeah, so unlucky…” I thought, looking through my own government website to see that 50-59 year olds were now eligible to get their vaccine and that I was 30 years too early to the party. Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson...I didn’t care. I just really wanted to have it.
“The COVIDCATION” is what my friend dubbed it. Three days later, she was in New York, smiling with her card and her band-aid, with Central Park peeking out behind her.
When joy and envy go hand in hand
Listen, I don’t want anyone to take this the wrong way.
Yes, I’m jealous my friends are jetting off to Miami and New York and getting vaccinated. Yes, I’m jealous that some people get to see their family after almost a year and a half of being inside. Yes, I wish that was me flaunting that silly piece of paper online.
But that doesn’t mean I’m not happy for them. And that definitely doesn’t mean I’m not happy with the fact that, with more people getting their vaccine, COVID fears are soon(ish) to be a thing of the past. I just haven’t found the word to describe the joy-envy combo I feel when someone else I know shows off their card. Hopefully someone makes up a word for that soon.
For now, I’ll be looking at flights of my own, dreaming of that jab and band-aid combo, and hoping that my at-home pandemic bangs still look good in the selfie I plan to post.
Written by Camila Perez