Social Distancing in the Era of COVID: Even Loners Struggle to Cope

COVID got me like “Bam! Knew you were full of sh*t!” All those years of typical loner attitude and introversion just weren’t quite enough to prepare me for this long haul social distancing.

I used to dream about how nice it would be living away from people, not having to interact with anyone and just living my life. But I still live in a neighborhood surrounded by people. I don’t have to worry about knocks on the door or getting cornered in the driveway for neighborly chats anymore.  It just doesn’t happen. And it feels weird.

When everything started shutting down in mid-March, I thought nothing of it. Four months later things are starting to open back up, but numbers are climbing.

Every time I go somewhere I get all done up in my bank heist gear (face mask – required in all public spaces in Pennsylvania, page 2 section 2), do what I need to do and quickly return to my car to sanitize and de-mask. No loitering. No chatty small talk. Nothing.

And sure, I used to find that sort of pressure frustratingly annoying. But now, now I think I’m craving that. No one to smile at, no one smiles back. If you do, I can’t see it behind your mask, just like you can’t see it behind mine. It feels cold and distant.

I guess that’s the point of social distancing–it’s right there in the phrase: distant.

Who knew? The absence of those simple little gestures I’ve taken for granted my entire life are having such a negative impact. Which only goes to show how innately social the human race is at its core.

Even for those of us who have always been a little socially awkward and struggle with all those social cues that seem to come so naturally to everyone else.

Yeah, COVID, ya got me. Social distancing is hard. It’s lonely. It’s stressful.

And we’re only just beginning….

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