Social distancing doesn’t have to be negative. The people who were the most social and spent the majority of their time, if not all of it, in the company of others are the ones that are among the most affected by COVID-19. If you’re one of those people, then you are probably coping with FaceTime, chats and other forms of technology that allow people to have contact across long distances. However, I think this is actually the wrong approach to handling social distancing.
When a person has something that is important to them taken away, the knee-jerk reaction is usually to try and find something to replace it. It’s a fairly natural reaction because it is easier to do that than it is to find a way to live without it. However, in this case, I think the more difficult path is actually the more optimal. If anything, this time of social distancing gives us a real chance to focus on ourselves as individuals.
To me, the amount of time and energy that went into maintaining an active social life was a lot, and as much fun as it was, it did prevent me from having time to do my hobbies in my free time. An active social life is just something that naturally needs constant attention if you want it to be a healthy and productive one, but now that this virus has broken out, all that time and energy that would normally go into it can be put towards other things.
For me, I’ve had a lot more time to read and write outside of class, and it is quite a pleasant change of pace. I still see some of my friends via video chat on a weekly basis, but because I’m no longer at Drexel, the time that we spend talking is obviously reduced. Since that time is reduced, it’s also become more meaningful to me. I can only speak for myself when I say that I took having the luxury of seeing my friends every day for granted.
One thing that is interesting to think about is how much presence we actually put forth in our social environments. For me, there were many days when I would just show up for the sake of showing up and hanging out with people. I was present in body, but my mind was elsewhere. I’m sure you can probably relate to this in some sense, and this has changed drastically since I’ve started practicing social distancing. Before, I felt as though the number of times I saw my friends was important when it came to maintaining healthy friendships with all of them, but it really is about what you do with that time, and social distancing gives everyone an opportunity to think about this.
You can reduce the amount of time you put into your social life, without having it suffer. So, when COVID-19 finally goes away and things return to normal, don’t immediately start trying to see everyone all the time again just because you haven’t seen them in a long time. Rather, think about what you are going to do and say that first time you see them again. The virus is giving you time to work on the things that you do in your personal time, so there’s no reason to throw that to the wayside and go back to devoting an unnecessarily large amount of your time to your social life.
Please take everything I am saying here as just one person’s view, because that’s all it is. This virus has really made me realize that my personal life has been rather stagnant. Being a college student has made me kind of obsess over socializing because it is so effortless to always be around people, and I know others have experienced similar things when they felt the need to go out on the town with friends for a night just because there was a certain level of expectation that needed to be met.
This virus will subside eventually, and when it does, we will all go back to situations and environments that are more familiar to us. So when that happens, there will undoubtedly be an urge to also return to the practice of putting large quantities of our time into our social lives, but do your best to distribute that time carefully. I believe that there is a proper balance for each of us, but the only way for us to figure out what that is is to first distance ourselves nearly entirely from our social lives and have a reboot of sorts. Surprisingly, the virus has given us that opportunity.