I belong to a group at my Temple. Pre-COVID, we met every six weeks on a Friday night for a pot luck dinner and a program. When the pandemic made this impossible, we did our programming via Zoom. It was so wonderful to be “together” that we started to Zoom all Friday nights even when no formal program was on the agenda.
In recent months, we followed each other’s progress in finding immunization appointments. Then we monitored how everyone reacted to those shots. And finally, when we were all fully immunized, we scheduled a Friday night event – in person – outside at a local park. I couldn’t wait to attend! But guess what? In spite of the fact that I now know all these people so much better, all my old social insecurities kicked in immediately, making it a difficult night.
Oh my! I think I like it better to meet on Zoom.
When I said this to a fellow park-goer, Rick, he agreed. And he added these other perks to Zoom meetings: You don’t have to drive anywhere, and you don’t have to put on pants.
Evidently, Rick and I are not alone in having issues with returning to “normal.” In fact, it is problematic for lots of people in lots of ways.
Here’s What Online Sources are Saying:
The Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety at the University of Pennsylvania posted this comment from Director, Lily Brown: “There are two types of people with re-entry anxiety: Those who are worried about contracting Covid-19 and those who have fallen out of practice with their social skills.”
A Today Show reporter, Rheana Murray, tackled more mundane issues when she interviewed Kelsey Darragh, a filmmaker and comedian in Los Angeles. Darragh says she used to dedicate an hour each morning to showering, applying make up, doing her hair, and finding the right outfit. Thanks to the pandemic, she now rolls out of bed and puts on comfy clothes. Saving even more time, she has given up shaving her underarms and legs. Darragh says, “As horrible and tragic as this past year has been, I do believe it was a much-needed reset for so many people.” The question becomes: How does one return to business casual after so many months of wearing sweats?
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America offers 10 Tips to Manage Re-Entry Anxiety, telling us that this anxiety is common, normal, healthy, and even evolutionarily protective. The ADAA also notes this anxiety can be experienced in the form of fear, nervousness, worry, or dread. One of their tips is to resume activities gradually, one step at a time. They remind us not to pressure ourselves and not to compare ourselves to others.
And Speaking of Comparing Ourselves to Others, Here’s More of My Social-Insecurity Story:
At the age of sixty-nine, I have lots of experience being social. And still, it’s difficult to be at a gathering. Do I need to be like a bride and make the rounds, talking to everyone in the group? How do I move from conversation to conversation? Is there an amount of time that is too long in chatting with someone? And when that time arrives, how do we drift apart? And how do I become a part of the next conversation? If I stand at the periphery of a group of people who are talking, am I joining in, or am I eavesdropping? When I stand alone, will they think me a wallflower?
None of these problems exist on Zoom. I am part of every conversation by virtue of logging on.
Truly, I think I like it better to meet on Zoom.
But Here’s What an Important Expert – My Daughter – Has to Say About That:
Shana asks: If someone told us a decade ago that in the year 2020 people would no longer meet in person, they would only meet via electronic devices, we would all have been horrified! We would have worked hard to make sure this prophecy did not come to pass. Why? Because human connection is important. Period. Even if it is difficult. We need to cultivate these skills.
As the mother of three girls ages eight to fifteen, one of Shana’s main concerns during the pandemic has been the lack of opportunities for the kids to socialize. Now that the world is opening up again, you better believe my granddaughters will be “out there.” And of course, as the matriarch of the family, I need to set the example and be out there too.
Reentering the world, I hope to take a skill I learned on Zoom with me. It seems that the more gregarious people often talk over the quieter folks. Sometimes to be heard, I had to say things a second time, a bit louder. I imagine the same trick will work when I stand at the periphery of a group in person. I’ll have to try it out one of these days soon. I promise I will. But first, I’m going to practice a little bit more on Zoom.