Anne* (53) has positioned herself clearly in the pandemic: no sports club, no friends, bike instead of train. Most of it has remained the same to this day. But slowly she asks herself: Did I miss the connection?

Am I freaking out too much about Corona? Of course I ask myself this question from time to time. But shouldn’t you ask her the other way around? Don’t most of them play too much normalcy – after everything that’s behind us?

I will never forget how, at the beginning of the pandemic, the police drove through our neighborhood and announcements were made with the megaphone. First only in German, then also in English. Stay at home! Protect yourself! I can’t remember ever having experienced anything like this. So far, that was definitely reserved for generations who experienced the war.

The pictures from Bergamo in Italy, where the pandemic raged particularly hard at the beginning, came as a shock. I can still see the corpses that were dumped in a heap because there was no capacity to cremate them. And I also see the Minister of Health at the time, Jens Spahn, who was said by some to have a calm, level-headed manner.

I was different. I found his objectivity to be arrogant. As if he wanted to say: I know something you don’t know. But rest assured: there is no need to freak out.

Other voices sounded completely different. Scientists made it clear that they would do everything they could to research this novel virus, but at the same time made it clear that they knew little and were just beginning. And then there was Karl Lauterbach, who was suddenly in the media quite a bit. He seemed anything but matter-of-fact, more alarmed. And he looked visibly worried.

Not only did I find the expertise of the later Minister of Health very beneficial, but also that he said what many thought: Let’s not fool ourselves, the situation is dramatic. But acknowledging that is the best way we can deal with it.

The warning voice, which soon seemed to be omnipresent from talk shows to daily topics, gave me a bit of orientation. While others mocked the politician’s allegedly panicky body language with wildly gesturing hands and wide-eyed eyes, I thought to myself: Good, say it, that’s how I see it. In the matter. Otherwise, to be honest, I hadn’t found Lauterbach’s demeanor with a bow tie and high-water pants very “skillful” or “sympathetic” until then.

For two years I was “Team Caution” and continued to restrict my radius even when the first easing came. I didn’t see my parents, who live 100 kilometers away, the whole time, contact was limited to the phone. I’ve only been to my gym once since the pandemic began. I moved hesitantly between the individual stations, took off my mask at the respective device – and then put it on again immediately. All around me was pumping, blowing and sweating – I felt like I saw the aerosol clouds flying.

That’s too much, you’re exaggerating, friends said when they found out that of course I wasn’t going to the Oktoberfest this fall. I continue to avoid using public transport if possible and now ride my bike into town, for example when I have a doctor’s appointment. I take the first small steps towards my old life with the handbrake on. The restaurants where I had appointments still have plexiglass between the tables.

It’s not so much the fear of infection itself that makes me cautious. The possible long-term consequences of the virus seem much more threatening to me – by the way, something that Karl Lauterbach has warned about again and again. When I hear people reporting that they are just flat out, that they can’t get going anymore, it affects me, because I experienced something similar once when I was in a clinic for weeks because of a severe burnout . I definitely don’t want to experience anything like that again and I’ve decided that I’m still willing to live with limitations. That I don’t get on a plane for a long-distance trip like others in my circle of acquaintances. Or go partying carefree. Or to train in the gym, as I said.

However, there are moments when I now ask myself this question: Have I possibly missed the boat? Moments that ignite above all when life at some point goes on as a matter of course.

I am a single parent, have two children – and initially I was lucky as a participant in “Team Caution”. While other families complained during the pandemic about their offspring being a gateway for the virus, the situation in our country was relatively relaxed: my daughter attended an international school. Classes were still completely online long after other schools relaxed. My son goes to boarding school, an institution that takes the Corona rules very seriously to this day.

But both of my children have always been reasonable outside of school. My grandmother celebrated her 18th birthday in our garden, just with us as a family. My daughter isn’t the party type and that’s probably why she took it easy on her social contacts. I know that both her and my son continue to wear masks, for example when they used public transport in Bavaria.

However, when my daughter suddenly moved out a while ago to start a new life in another city, it got me thinking. Suddenly there were violent accusations when I asked what the whole thing was about. “The last time was just too much,” she said without going into further detail. We had always been very close to each other, had done many things together, from theater to adult education courses. Before Corona. When the first beer gardens opened after the lockdown, we approached a new normality together: cycling there, signing up in lists, being close to people again for the first time.

Sometimes I wonder if I may have gone too far during the pandemic. Whether I unintentionally sent out signals that led to this liberation. Seen in this way, is the “Team Caution” falling on my feet?

On the other hand, I don’t see what I could have done differently. Because even if Karl Lauterbach, as the current Federal Minister of Health, admits that it was a mistake to keep the daycare centers closed for so long, I don’t think you can blame him: From the perspective of the time, the decision was the right one. This has caused great damage – that is the knowledge of today and, as is well known, one is always smarter afterwards. That’s why I prefer to look twice. It’s true that there are no longer any police cars driving on our streets and the pictures from Bergamo are long gone. But the virus is still here and it would be wrong to totally negate that.

My topic now is how I get the curve and what can help me in the future with the orientation and set the direction. This much is certain: the times when you let yourself be relieved of responsibility “as a team member” are over. I have to find my way alone now.

*Name known to editors

Recorded by FOCUS online author Elisabeth Hussendörfer