How Quarantine Has Changed My Views On Social Interaction

A+familiar+sight+in+quarantine+life

A familiar sight in quarantine life

Sydney Leahy, Editor

I have never been a fan of large gatherings or group settings. You won’t find me bantering with cashiers or chit chatting with strangers. I’m perfectly content with staying home doing absolutely nothing, or so I thought. 

In the beginning of quarantine, I was nothing short of a recluse. I would wake up, “go to school”, do homework, and sleep. This never-ending cycle was enough for a while. I found joy in my paintings and my books. 

Then it was summer. I didn’t have my never-ending school work to distract myself anymore. With all my summer plans cancelled, I needed better ways to spend my time. Though most of my time was still taken up by inanimate objects, I started seeing a few close friends outside. We would hang out at parks or chill in someone’s backyard. We wore masks and remained six feet apart, which was an easy enough adjustment. It was a fun and welcomed break to see different people than the ones I was seeing every other day of my life. Summer was lovely, relatively stress free, and enjoyable.

Junior year hit me like a two hundred and ten ton freight train. Though the beginning of the virtual school year was drastically better than its predecessor, in that we were actually being taught by our teachers, it still paled in comparison to in-person learning. With a new system reliant on internet connection and self accountability, there was bound to be some hiccups in the beginning (I still don’t know what my math teacher looks like).  But eventually, I adjusted. I created a schedule and I turned my work in on time. I didn’t really understand what I was learning (and for the most part I still don’t), but I would complete the assignments and get good grades. I was fine doing homework all day. I was fine seeing my friends a few times a month. I was really really fine, until I wasn’t anymore.

I understand that my experience with Covid is better than 99 percent of the rest of the world. I don’t need a job, I have a home, I have parents who are financially stable, and I have friends who care about me. I have loving parents who I get along with. I feel so guilty feeling anxious or sad or annoyed, because my life is amazing. Recently though, being quarantined has finally begun to affect me. I find myself craving interaction. Spending time with a friend or two for a few hours is beginning to become the only thing keeping me sane. I even joined a tennis group to improve my game (with the intent of maybe making Varsity if that even happens this year), which I was always too self conscious of my lack of experience to do. The minutes I spend with friends are now the best minutes of my week. I find my days blending together, with the only indicator of time being if I saw someone who wasn’t one of my parents that day. It took a global pandemic for me to realize how much I need to see people. 

The only downside to this new found socialization is the health risk that inevitably accompanies it. I find myself wondering if it’s selfish to potentially infect my friends, or anyone I come in contact with. Is it stupid to play tennis with a bunch kids who might not be taking this pandemic as seriously as I am? Obviously, I try to social distance as much as I can when I’m playing, but all I need is one person to get too close or cough in my direction and I could become infected. My family is not a part of a bubble. All we do is stay at home, go on walks, and go to the grocery store. We’re trying to be as safe as we possibly can, and after much thought and consideration, I have decided that seeing a friend and playing tennis (while trying to be as safe as I can) are risks I am willing to continue taking for the sake of my mental health.

Quarantine has made me view social interactions from an entirely new perspective. I find myself caring less and less about that stupid thing I said that one time, or the awkward way I moved my hand while talking. Interacting with cashiers or strangers has become a little less terrifying. I’ve begun to realize that no one cares what I do. No one cares that I said something stupid because we’re in a global pandemic and everyone is just trying to survive and maintain their mental health to the best of their abilities. That’s not to say that I’m not still an anxious wreck, it’s just that I seem to be caring less and less about trivial things that would have previously destroyed me.