Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Should I stay, or should I go? This is the question that’s been haunting me the past couple of months. It’s the question on all of our minds at the moment, and I’m sorry to say, I don’t yet have the answer. In a non-Covid world, the answer is simple. I’d go. In a heartbeat. No questions asked. Not even a question, in fact. But in a Covid world, with so much uncertainty, it becomes much more complicated to decide. What’s the best thing to do? What’s the safest? What’s in my best interest?

The question on my mind, as an international school educator, is whether or not to go back home this summer to see my family. I always go home (well, there was that one year I traveled Europe instead) for the summer, where I spend time with my family and see my friends I haven’t seen in a while and drive all around the great state of Texas to visit far-flung relatives and eat my favorite foods (in Austin, mostly) and shop for all the things I always buy in America (here’s looking at you, tampons with applicators, Mexican spices, deodorant, toothpaste, makeup, all the books, and much more).

I mean, I didn’t get see them at Christmas (another one of those trips I almost always make), which means if I don’t go home, it’ll have been a year without seeing them except for through a screen. And then there’s the new baby who’s due in May, a new niece that I can’t wait to hold and cuddle and love on. If I don’t go home, she’ll be more than 6 months old the first time I meet her. Also, I could use some family time, what with a worldwide pandemic causing all kinds of stress and undue worry and anxiety that we’re all dealing with.

But with Covid and all the stress and risk that comes with it, do I dare? Going home means leaving my safe bubble on Jeju (where the cases are really low…like ridiculously low…as in about 500 total cases since the pandemic started and only one death) and going to America, where the cases are crazy high and the death count is astronomical. Not to mention the actual travel there, with long haul flights, crammed in a small space with lots of people and germs galore. And then there’s the Covid tests, the ones that have given me anxiety ever since the last one I had in Seoul during quarantine, where I screamed and cried for a long time after. I’ll do anything to avoid that again. It’s not just one test either, it’s five at minimum. I shudder at the thought. Quarantine, while now only when I return to Korea (since Texas has lifted all restrictions), is still not something I’m excited about. Frankly, I had enough of that in 2020.

The biggest fear I have though is if I actually get Covid. Apart from the obvious fear of contracting a horrendous respiratory illness that could kill me, I’m worried that contracting the virus might mean I lose my job. I love my job and my life in Jeju, and I don’t want to give that up, but the reality is that if I were to get Covid in the states, I could very well lose my job (legitimately- I’ve checked) if I were not able to quickly recover and return back to work. Is that a risk I’m willing to take? Does choosing not to go home for fear of catching Covid and possibly losing my job mean I love my family any less? Does it make me selfish? Am I overreacting?

What’s the right decision? I feel like I’m damned if I do, and damned if I don’t. I thought that writing about it would make the decision clear, that processing the pros and cons would somehow show me what to do, but it hasn’t. Does anyone have any advice?

27 thoughts on “Should I Stay or Should I Go?

  1. dianelisa2

    You’ve explained the dilemma clearly and thoughtfully.

    Patience. That is what I keep telling myself about seeing family. I live in very high risk area, and I haven’t seen my son from across the coast for over a year. I have seen my 89-year-old mother, my sister and my brother, all of whom live in neighboring states, only once in the past year. However, all of us talk on the phone, text, email, and occasionally video chat, so we’ve stayed connected. Recently, my mother and brother were vaccinated. In time, I will be too. For me, keeping everyone healthy is worth the wait.

    Reply
    1. aggiekesler Post author

      Oh wow…a year without seeing family and you live in the same country! It’s all just so sad…:( I agree, health is worth the wait. Thanks for the perspective.

      Reply
  2. glenda funk

    Have you been vaccinated? That makes all the difference in the risk factors. Have your family been vaccinated? Are there anti-vaxxers in your family? At present 20% of the U.S. population has been vaccinated. All will have had the opportunity to be vaccinated by early summer. Summer 2021 will look much different than 2020 in the U.S. You do have a big decision, but unless you’ve factored in the vaccine you have not really considered all possibilities.

    Reply
    1. aggiekesler Post author

      Not vaccinated yet…foreigners in Korea won’t be able to get the vaccine until later (earliest will start in June/July and latest will finish in November). If I was vaccinated, it would be an easy decision. I wish we could get it earlier. Thanks for the advice!

      Reply
  3. edifiedlistener

    I hear your struggle and share a lot of your concerns. Not sure how you will end up deciding but this seems like a useful slice to come back and weigh your options as more information becomes available, as regulations shift, as others conduct the experiment before you. Wishing you all the best!

    Reply
  4. Ms Victor Reads

    I share your struggle, having not been “home” since July 2019. I have made the decision to stay here for many of the reasons you mention, but still sad about it. The quarantine here in Cambodia upon return is too scary for me… Good luck with your decision.

    Reply
    1. aggiekesler Post author

      Not home in 2 years?!?! Poor thing!! I’m so sorry…:*( I will probably stay, but I’m going to wait and make the decision at the last minute. Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  5. elsie

    What a decision you need to make! Your health is priority #1. Situations change so quickly with this virus. Areas thought to be safe suddenly become hot spots. I know the urge to just go ahead and make plans, but waiting is necessary. Things will get better, especially when the vaccine is available to all and all have taken it. Think about long term, short term will pass.

    Reply
  6. karpenglish

    It is so hard to decide, isn’t it? I have not seen my dad and stepmother in person since August of 2018, and my sister and her family a few months before that. My mom and stepfather were here for Thanksgiving in 2019. They are all in Southern California, a major hot spot in the United States, and I have been worried sick about all of them and miss them so much. My dad and stepmother both developed COVID-19 in January, when the hospitals were over capacity and it was terrifying. My immune compromised stepmother was fine, but my dad kept getting sicker and more confused and, for a while, unable to speak coherently or track a thought. Ultimately, he did recover, but I had a lot of long dark nights where I kept thinking that the last time I saw him, I was busy and distracted with a new job and did not spend enough quality time with him. (He’d flown up on a whim to look after my son when I suddenly had a new job and full days of inservice before the kiddo’s school year started.) Even so, I am not quite ready to travel into such a hot spot yet. FaceTime and patience for now, and hopes that things will be safer in the summer!

    Reply
    1. aggiekesler Post author

      Oh wow…that’s so long! I’m so sorry!! There are so many things to consider, especially when you factor in health concerns. You’ve definitely put things into perspective for me. I hope you get to see your family soon!! Are you well yet?

      Reply
      1. karpenglish

        I am more well than I was, but I think I am still a ways from 100%. But today I woke up with clear breathing and more energy than I have had in while, and it is Spring Break, so I can have a more relaxing schedule, so that will help. Tomorrow we will get the results of my son’s EEG and on Tuesday I get a new chest x-ray, so I hope for a week with everything being declared normal.

  7. Lakshmi Bhat

    You can see your relatives and family through video calls and talk to them regularly. maybe you can wait for some time because getting Covid or losing your job are big minuses. At the end you have to listen to your heart, your instinct. All the best 🙂

    Reply
    1. aggiekesler Post author

      You’re right…those are huge minuses! Some people have it way worse than me. At least all my family is healthy and I am too. I can always wait til Christmas.

      Reply
  8. Terje

    Decision making can be challenging, and there are various strategies to make good decisions. It might be a good idea to talk to a coach who would know what questions to ask to help you to make the decision, eg, how do you want to feel and which of the choices supports you. In a long run, you can disregard any advice others give, and just flip a coin (also a way of making a decision). I kind of believe that you will find a way to make a decision in a thoughtful and self-compassionate way.

    Reply
    1. aggiekesler Post author

      That’s a good idea…I should talk to someone who can help me lay out the pros/cons in a systematic way. haha…the coin toss! I will find the decision that’s right for me, but it feels like no decision is clearly the “right” one. Thank you!

      Reply
  9. standingtall47

    Ugh! What and awful situation to be in. I’m such a family person and have been vaccinated so would lean towards going but totally understand the other side of the coin to. Good luck!

    Reply
    1. aggiekesler Post author

      If I was vaccinated, I would totally go! But I won’t be by the summer, and none of my family are (they don’t want to), so it’s a tough decision.

      Reply
  10. Diane Anderson (newtreemom)

    A very tough decision. No advice because the choice will have to be yours. Covid has been so hard. I have a great niece I haven’t met in person yet… she has already had her first birthday, and we are only about an hour’s drive apart. But for health reasons, my niece and her husband have kept a pretty strict quarantine with their two little ones. Every family has to choose what’s best for them. You will know what is right for you.

    Reply
    1. aggiekesler Post author

      I know…the decision has to be mine. I will figure it out as the time gets closer. I’m sorry you’ve been isolated from your family, too. It’s probably harder knowing that they are so close, yet so far away.

      Reply
  11. soundofwaterblog

    That’s very clearly laid out — so much so that it is clear that there isn’t quite, yet, an obvious decision. Perhaps, now that you’ve written it out, you can let it percolate a little; reread this in a few days and see what you see. I wish you luck!

    Reply
    1. aggiekesler Post author

      It’s definitely been percolating a lot since writing it out. I’m now 70/30 leaning toward staying put this summer. But I’m waiting to decide until much closer to the summer.

      Reply
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  13. cbeaulac

    I feel you sister. I have the same worries and it’s so stressful trying to make a decision. It will need to be made soon but there are some things that might change which would affect the choice I make. Thanks for writing about this, it’s helped me too (though I still haven’t made a decision).

    Reply

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