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America's dirty little secret: A lot of us don't want to go back to normal.

Let's begin by saying there's no one on the planet who wants COVID-19 to continue ravaging the world. The past year has been one of unspeakable tragedy and it will be years before we realize what effects it had on humanity's collective physical and mental health.

But as we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, some people aren't so sure they want to return to life as it was before the pandemic. They may keep it to themselves, but the sentiment is definitely out there.

Many started working from home and now love the freedom that comes with having a five-second commute and loathe the idea of returning to a life where they have to waste an hour on "looking good" every morning.



For some, the idea of returning back to their old social habits seems uncomfortable. First, no matter how effective the vaccine is, it's going to be incredibly disconcerting to be around maskless people in close quarters, like in a bar or at a concert. We've all developed natural knee-jerk reactions to people being too close and it'll be really tough to unlearn what's been ingrained for a year.

The vast majority of us went from having a healthy relationship with the world around us to living in a constant state of social distancing vigilance over the course of a week. That's going to be hard to undo.

Many people are secretly relieved they've had the perfect excuse to avoid daily social interactions over the past year. They were able to avoid the relatives that get on their nerves or didn't have to hang out with their significant other's friends they never really liked in the first place.

How I Really Feel About "Going Back to Normal"www.youtube.com


For others, the lockdown was an eye-opening experience, because they realized they were happier not dealing with some of the toxic people in their lives. Going back to normal social life means having to either re-engage with people who might trigger us or suffer the discomfort that comes with ending the relationship.

Reentering the social world also means having to confront temptations that we were able to avoid for an entire year, whether it's drugs, sex, smoking, gambling, or ordering an extra dessert while eating out.

"As horrible and tragic as this past year has been, I do believe it was a much-needed reset for so many people," Kelsey Darragh, a filmmaker who suffers from anxiety and wrote a book about mental health during the pandemic called "Don't F---ing Panic," told Today. "We got to just be gentle with ourselves."

A lot of people are feeling anxious about things returning to "normal" because they now realize they weren't happy before the pandemic.


Whether you are hesitant for things to go back to normal or ready to rip your front door off its hinges, we should all take these (hopefully!) final few months of COVID-19 to recognize that we've all been through a severely traumatizing time. Now's a great time to take some personal inventory, consider where we were before the pandemic, and where we're headed.

What have you learned the past year that can help make your post-pandemic life even better than it was before?

"It becomes a very anxiety-producing moment in the life of a survivor when they return to normal," Deborah Serani, a psychologist, and professor at Adelphi University told Today. "Except now, with the pandemic, we're all doing that."

"We are emerging from this together, globally," Serani said. "It's OK to be gentle with yourself. It's OK to feel unsure. It's OK to feel insecure. It's OK to say, 'How do I do this dance? I don't remember.' It's OK to feel anxious and nervous. You're not alone in that."

If you're feeling anxious about life returning to normal, take solace in the idea that you're not the only one. In fact, everyone has to carry some anxiety about the big changes on the horizon.

Also, remember that you're not in this alone. COVID-19 has affected everyone. So there will be plenty of people out there that you can throw your arm around tight — for the first time in months — and ask, "Ready to go out?"

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

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Pop Culture

14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

Here are 14 timeless pleasures to make you feel like a kid again:

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

People share experiences with intrusive thoughts.

When I was younger I used to think I was dying or that I would get kidnapped by a random stranger, but I kept it to myself because I thought something was wrong with me. I thought that telling people would confirm this fear, so I kept it inside my entire life until I was an adult and learned it was part of ADHD and other disorders, such as OCD and PTSD. But it doesn't have to be part of a disorder at all—a vast amount of people just have intrusive thoughts, and a Twitter user, Laura Gastón, is trying to normalize them for others.

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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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