Will I be able to hold a ‘normal’ conversation in a ‘normal’ environment?
I don’t know about you, but my social skills seem to have taken a hit during the latest (and hopefully last) lockdown. Talking in a bit too much detail about random subjects, taking awkwardly long pauses and asking far too many questions are a few of my new traits. I’d quite like to get a grip on this.
Like everyone, I can’t wait to get back into a normal (whatever that is) existence; one that humans were designed to thrive in. Naturally, there’ll be a temptation to accept every social invitation on offer. But after such a long time, this excitement has an underlying edge of uncertainty. Will I be able to hold a ‘normal’ conversation in a ‘normal’ environment?
I believe relationships are going to play a huge part in this. Surrounding ourselves with the right people is really going to help – people who make us feel safe, share our core beliefs, genuinely want the best for us and allow us to shine.
Our social relationships (and every relationship, but that’s another story) have undergone immense pressure. Socially distanced or virtually connected, we’ve had to maintain them in the most unnatural conditions. Even the most solid of these will need care, understanding and patience.
We’ve all reacted to this extreme social hurdle in our own way. There wasn’t a manual telling us how to interact with people from a distance during a pandemic. We’ve had to go with our instincts and do what we felt was right at the time. As we come through the other side, we’ll all adapt in our own way and at our own pace.
But as we make this transition into the outside world, it might be a good opportunity for a social spring clean. Who do you want to share this long-awaited experience with? Who are the right people for you? If in doubt, here’s a quick checklist. Try to think pre-pandemic (if you can remember such a time) when answering.
If the answer to these questions is yes, you have a very special person in your life worth hanging onto. Let’s look at the flip side.
Answering yes to these questions should speak for itself. In theory, this may all seem fairly obvious. But an unhealthy relationship – whether it’s a friend, a partner or someone you work with – can creep up on you. Initially, these relationships may seem exciting and fun. But as they take hold, and you increasingly end up in uncomfortable situations, the lows soon outweigh the highs. Looking back, I used to attract them. Once I spotted the pattern and took control, which took time and practise, everything changed.
Walking away from someone who isn’t good for you is always the best option. But people will come and go throughout your life simply because you both move on. You may have great memories with people who were there through a certain stage in your life. You change. They change. Life carries on. Ellie Tattam writes more about this in Friendships: Make it or break it?
The outside world will soon be ready to welcome us back. Dinner (in a bustling restaurant), drinks (sitting at the bar and without booking) and the cinema (with every seat taken and obligatory packet–rustling from those around you) are going to be the best things ever. Everyday social activities are going to feel like a treat. Just make sure you’re doing them with the right people for you. These people will accept the lockdown traits you’ve developed, and you’ll embrace theirs. Traits that will most likely amuse and entertain you both.
You will adapt to this new world together. They are lucky to have you in their lives, and you are lucky to have them.
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