When a germaphobe faces a pandemic

By Murphy Obershaw, A&E Editor

Do you ever wonder what it’s like for a germaphobe to go through a pandemic? Well, it’s rough sometimes.

I became germaphobic during the last pandemic the United States faced. H1N1, or swine flu, was an issue when I was in fifth grade. It wasn’t as bad as COVID-19 is, but we took precautions. My class was still told that we needed to wash our hands before we ate, and someone always disinfected our desks at the end of a school day. This sounds simple enough, but I blew it way out of proportion.

Even after H1N1 stopped being a major problem, I would wash my hands or use sanitizer before I ate. If my hands brushed up against anything, I would have to clean them again. My dad would yell at me to stop wasting water because I would always be washing my hands, and I would be washing them for too long.

Sometimes I would deem certain items germy, like after it was taken on a camping trip or if my pet rat touched it, and I would never feel clean interacting with those surfaces again.

As time went on, I became less germaphobic, but it never truly went away. When I started college, I no longer felt the need to wash my hands before meals (though I probably should have done that), but I still had an issue with considering items germy. I also still had a problem with washing my hands for too long if I came in contact with something I thought was gross.

During my sophomore year of college, I was exposed to spaces that non-germaphobes would be freaked out by, and that broke me of most of my germaphobia. Yes, I do still have an issue with germs, but it isn’t as bad as before.

Partway through my junior year, COVID-19 happened. I was upset when we were sent home last year, but looking back on it, I think I needed to step back and figure out how I would deal with it.

I didn’t leave my house a lot while the school year was wrapping up. We were dispensed from going to church, my mom did all the grocery shopping and I only went into work a couple times before summer started.

As time went on, I went out a little more. The first time I went to Target, I couldn’t breathe because I never dealt with a mask on my face before, I was freaking out about the amount of people who were there and I was worried about contracting COVID-19. I felt more comfortable going out as time went on, but there were still more hurdles I had to face.

My first week back at Newman was terrible. I was scared. However, my fear didn’t stop me from going to class. My anxiety makes me scared of a lot of things, but regardless of how scared I am, I still have to get up and face my fears everyday. I do try to avoid some of my fears as much as possible, but when I can’t, I just go for it.

If I gave into every fear that my anxiety throws at me, I would never accomplish anything. The more frequently I face my fears, the more I learn how to live with them and not let them control me.

Now that we have been in school for four weeks, I feel better about going to class in a COVID world, but I stay cautious. I think that’s the one good thing about being a germaphobe. I know how to keep myself and those around me safe.

No, I’m not smothering myself in sanitizer every hour or spending my days freaking out. While there are times where COVID-19 does stress me out, I have figured out how to take precautions and follow the guidelines to keep myself and others safe without blowing things out of proportion like I did when I was in fifth grade.

PHOTO: Leanne Vastbinder, Opinions and Online Editor