We look at things we forgot to do after living with the pandemic for almost a year and a half.
Americans are slowly but surely coming out of their pandemic habits. To think, it was January 21, 2020, when the CDC confirmed the first US case in Washington state. Back then, it was still called the “novel coronavirus.” Today, we can scarcely remember those days.
Ever since then, Americans’ lives and even personalities changed. For many introverts, they discovered a hidden survival skill in being antisocial. Others found distancing a real challenge, but at least there were some silver linings. Suddenly, we had way more time for hobbies and pursuing interests like baking bread or reading.
For many Americans, time reading may have made them feel smarter, more open, and agreeable. However, now as we slowly emerge from the “new normal,” it seems we forgot how to do many things.
For example, according to many social media posts, people are discovering they feel a bit socially awkward. Ok, a lot awkward.
In other cases, even the most basic skills, like driving or otherwise “adulting” as they return to workplaces. Others note the surreal feeling of returning to places like movie theaters or crowded airports. After so long away, it can be hard even to contemplate. Today, we forgot how to be part of a day-to-day bustling, hustling American life.
We Forgot How to Be Social
If you’re feeling this way, you’re not alone. Now, many are wondering how to re-learn how to simply be around others again. For astronauts in space, unused muscles atrophy, and it’s similar to unused social skills. What used to seem mundane can now cause undue anxiety.
For some, it might feel like we’re awkwardly coming out of a sort of cocoon.
According to author and social anxiety guide Arlin Cuncic, there is good news:
“The good news is that many people are experiencing the exact same things as you right now. That means that our social awkwardness is a collective experience we can relate to and commiserate with as we are going through it together.”
Now, extroverts may have the advantage as we resume interactions. On the other hand, introverts may need to take more time to readjust. And, they may even decide they feel better without as many interactions as before.
Embrace the Awkwardness
To help, as we begin to find ourselves in social situations again, Cuncic advises embracing our awkward feelings rather than fighting them. Thus, try joking about it with others, being friendly, supportive, and lighthearted.
Further, since most people feel this way to some extent, it’s best to be especially kind. If someone doesn’t behave as you would expect, give them a little extra leeway and compassion. At the same time, be especially forgiving of yourself, giving yourself time to adjust to social situations again slowly.
Best Time to Improve Social Skills
If you’re feeling awkward, it’s a great time to re-learn and polish communication skills.
“In fact, never in history has there been a better time to work on improving your social skills—pretty much everyone is experiencing the same thing!” says Cuncic.
For many, remaining socially distanced remains the best option for now, and that’s perfectly fine. Do what makes you feel comfortable, and negotiate with others to reach a mutual agreement. After all we’ve faced, it will take time and gradual effort, so be easy on yourself and others.
For more, check out Arlin Cuncic’s TikTok for tips on social anxiety.
Below, we look at some funny Tweets as people say they forgot how to act, dress, or simply be after the pandemic.