The summer seems to be flying by this year, and I continue to attribute that to lack of variety in my activities. My days pass by as I work from home, workout, go to the pool to tan, cook dinner, and go to bed early. Every once in a while, I see friends. Usually, I will see them outside at a park, have a nice picnic, and then we go our separate ways. This schedule stands in stark contradiction to the summer of 2019, where almost every night I was out with friends at a different restaurant or bar, attending baseball games, trying new breweries, all while working 40 hours a week in an office.
Socializing this year comes in different forms than it ever has. I’ve learned that during this pandemic, everyone is taking things at their own speed. Personally, I have been really conservative about my socialization habits: only seeing certain friends and seeing them outside, at a distance. Obviously, that is not what a lot of people in my age group are doing, and at times, it makes me feel isolated and frustrated. I constantly am wondering why people my age don’t understand the severity of this pandemic, and don’t see how simply changing their actions could make it go away quicker, so that next summer we can all enjoy ourselves again fully.
These feelings of loneliness and anger have led me to conclude a few things: 1) I cannot control what other people do; 2) BUT I can try to lead by example when interacting with friends AND 3) I can control my behavior and comfort levels while socializing. If friends want to see me and spend time with me, I will express to them that I would be happy to see them, under certain conditions.
It is vitally important, now more than ever, to be on the same page as your friends when it comes to socialization. I encourage all who are reading this to have the “COVID Talk” with your friends. What this conversation might entail might be different for everyone, but the basics are the same. In my mind, it looks something like the “DTR” talk when dating, but more like defining how and when you will be comfortable seeing your friends (and, by the way, if you are dating during this time, this conversation is important to have with your suitors as well).
No matter what your comfort level is with socializing during the pandemic, be open with your friends. If they invite you to do something that makes you uncomfortable, say no, and introduce an alternate plan; don’t just go along with it because you don’t want to upset them, or don’t want to lose them. Rest assured, if you have good friends, they will be happy to see you in whatever way makes you most comfortable. On the other hand, if your friends are still pressuring you into doing activities that make you uncomfortable, perhaps now is the time to reevaluate those friendships. Perhaps you don’t have as much in common as you think.
If you need some tips on communication, check out my post from March 2, 2020, entitled “Speak your needs”.
No matter what your comfort level is during this time, stay true to it. As hard as it can be to set those boundaries and do what you feel is right, it is not worth putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation to “save face”.
If you are someone who doesn’t have many boundaries during this time, be respectful and open to the boundaries that your friends are wanting to set. It isn’t easy to have these conversations with people, so be gracious and understanding, and try to put yourselves in your friend’s shoes.
Oh, and wear your mask!