How Quarantine Permanently Changed How I Feel About Being Super Social
Quarantine has been different for everyone.
Some people have gone crazy while cooped up at home, stuck with family and forced apart from friends. Others, however, have welcomed the change and solitude. Regardless of where people stand, everyone's life has been thrown for a major loop—seeing as overnight, our resources became completely limited and social life totally depleted.
The week leading up to quarantine was a busy one. I packed in two bustling nighttime skincare events, went about my gym business as usual, caught up with my parents and snagged some in-person deals at Sweaty Betty's annual sale with some friends.
That doesn't sound like a recap of a week experienced by someone who doesn't enjoy being out and about, does it? Well, odd as it may seem, the minute we were locked away in isolation, I adapted quick—in fact, almost too easily. Strange, considering I live alone and I'm single. How did I not crave social interaction?
While large group Zooms became the new norm for parties and catch-ups, I learned early on that they weren't my thing. In fact, I despise them. While many people I know have consistently craved any social interaction they could grasp, I realized I was just fine. I started fresh routines with just me. I'd wake up early, whip up a homemade superfood smoothie bowl, get a workout in and then pop open my laptop and get to my job. I wasn't thinking about others, I was totally focused on myself.
Even though I was fine missing out on some birthday Zooms that left me feeling worthless just sitting behind a screen filled with 20 other faces, I wasn't entirely antisocial. It's just that I found a balance. I texted frequently and found that it was enough to fulfill my social interaction requirement. I also got into a scheduled Zoom with three friends every Sunday night for an hour. As the weeks went on and people were at least leaving their houses to walk outside, I gradually began going on social distance walks up my hill with one person here and another person there.
I've been insanely fortunate to remain employed amid this crazy scenario, and I know that's a huge contributing factor to why I've been so focused on other things instead of a social life. And it's not to say there aren't people I want to see. I'm just learning what's worth my social energy and what isn't.
Leading up to quarantine, I was very social. Granted, I've always had zero issues being alone (I do live solo, after all), but I also enjoyed dinners, fun work events and throwing the occasional party. One thing I have realized in the past year, however, is how little I enjoy large group outings. While parties are fun because you can jump around and mingle, being at a chill hangout with eight people sitting around or playing board games tends to bore me or leave me feeling like I don't bring much to the table, the way I do when I'm in a more intimate setting.
Being in quarantine made me realize I need to be more selective with my time and my friend choices. For the most part, all of the people in my immediate and extended friend group are great. There are few who stand out to me as must avoid, but sometimes when a bunch of people are sitting under one roof, it changes the dynamic. I used to feel obligated to say yes to every birthday party and support everyone's work-related social endeavors. I still want to be there for people when I can and when I have capacity to do so without it giving me anxiety. I don't want to do it because everyone else is or because I feel like I have to.
Spending three months totally alone will really do a number on you. I know myself better than I ever did before, and I also know I don't want to waste energy. Quarantine was a special time for me to evaluate my goals and work on things I set to the wayside when I was occupied with going out or just tired from the mental wear and tear of driving and traffic. Three months gave me a fresh perspective. I've been more excited than ever reconnecting with my closest friends in very small settings—and moving forward, I'm only going to commit to gatherings I genuinely want to attend, with people who don't suck out my energy.
Every time I leave my apartment now to do a social distant hang with a close friend or two, I come back home happier than ever to be back in my little bubble. I count my blessings each day because I know that not everyone is fortunate enough to resort to a bedroom or shared living space that makes them feel comfortable. That's why I'm not taking this time for granted. I'm embracing the opportunity I have to be alone, working on becoming my own best friend and making myself the best person I can be, so that I'm prepared when it comes time to face the world again.
You're not alone with changes you're feeling about your friends right now. HERE are six normal shifts every friend group is likely experiencing amid social distancing.