By: Ira Rishi, SFU Student
It’s probably safe to say that, for many of us over the last year, our social skills have been collecting dust. So naturally, there will be a certain amount of reluctance, fear, and anxiety as things reopen. We’ve all been so accustomed to seeing each other through screens that our return to in-person activities might be overwhelming.
Many of us are looking forward to the return to normal. But, it is likely to induce anxiety about being back in public spaces and what that means for our safety and health. It’s completely valid to feel hesitant or worried about engaging in activities that are supposed to be normal but were restricted because of the pandemic. We may exercise some caution in approaching any kind of physical interaction and we might still feel a little out of place as we venture back into the physical world again. We will encounter all kinds of people and social situations again — when people stand too close, those who hug tightly, people who are going to be partying hard, and those who will choose to stay home and binge-watch Schitt’s Creek (I don’t blame them).
You may ask yourself, “Is it okay to shake hands now? Am I standing too close to this person? Is it okay if our hands accidentally touch?” While these thoughts may seem trivial, they can be pretty overwhelming, and it’s important we try to be mindful of the circumstances we’ve been through.
Some studies emphasize that the traumatic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on adults, children, and especially frontline workers, will be reflected even once we’ve returned to normal. Whether we’ve experienced fear over losing a loved one or struggled with general COVID-19 anxiety, our subjective experiences throughout the pandemic have exhausted us all at some point.
It’s totally okay to feel anxious, overwhelmed, or confused as we combat the discomfort of having to socially readjust. There’s no shame in feeling exhausted after one social interaction or feeling scared of not being able to maintain a safe distance.
Social and cooperative behaviour is something many of us thrive on. As exciting as the return to the real world may be, it can be just as overwhelming. But there is a good chance that everyone might be just as nervous as you. All your feelings, worries, and thoughts towards the post-pandemic world are valid. Remember: you are not losing your social skills; they’re just the same, but it might take you some time to get back into the same groove that you had before the pandemic.