It’s the first big week back since lockdown restrictions eased, and one writer already has social fatigue.
I don’t know about you, but this past week since pubs re-opened has been a bit of a blur.
My phone hasn’t stopped buzzing with flurries of plans, working out where is still taking bookings and frantic WhatsApps about WTF to wear.
And while I’m grateful for the spike in activity reviving our slowly dying group chat – if not slightly worried about how I’ll afford it all – it’s safe to say that it’s been A Lot to deal with.
Like many people, I was counting down the days to being able to return to a restaurant or drink in a pub garden. The thought had been a beacon throughout a gloomy March and knowing that I’d soon be reunited with the company and cocktails that I love kept me going.
In preparation, I’d made every plan conceivable. Monday was for hitting my beloved charity shops for all the gems cleared out during pandemic purges. The rest of the week, I would be meeting a handful of friends for casual catch-ups.
And I didn’t even go that hard. One friend told me she’d made both lunch and dinner reservations on a few days to maximise being able to see as many people as possible.
But it’s not even the weekend and I’m already a bit exhausted. Can it really be that, after just five days, we’ve peaked? Over the past year, we’ve spent so long inside that you’d think we’d still be raring to go, but I’ve noticed a little bit of lethargy when it comes to making plans now that the initial hype has vanished, especially for plans made well in advance. Surely the novelty isn’t already starting to wear off?
More likely is that we’re just not used to socialising, and we’ve forgotten how to pace ourselves. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels hit by a big old wave of social fatigue after so long in lockdown. But it’s not just the mental implications of all this sudden busyness that I’ve noticed, there are some physical ones too.
I’m realising now how ill-prepared my body was for my social life to return. I probably should have trained, or at least put on a belt in the last year to get a bit used to my organs being squished again. I wore heeled boots – hardly my most daring shoe – out again for the first time this week and actually got a blister…
So while this week has definitely been exciting, and I’ve loved being back in the world, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t overwhelming too.
The whole thing feels eerily like the disorientation of going back to school in September. After a long carefree summer, you’d spend the week before preparing like mad and training yourself for a new routine. When you got back in the classroom after so long, you’d realise you’d forgotten how to hold a pen and spell your name.
That’s how I feel: out of practice and a bit out of sorts. “Have I really forgotten how to socialise?” I texted a friend, because the days of going out several nights a week, all spontaneous and energized, feel like a distant memory.
I genuinely got a bit lost walking to my favourite pre-pandemic spot this week, somewhere I’ve been countless times and know like the back of my hand. But I took a wrong turn and had to, much to my shame, consult Maps to get me there. It feels like navigating the school halls all over again.
Of course, not everyone has been out and at it all week. The overwhelm and re-entry anxiety has meant some people aren’t ready to participate just yet. But most of my friends have said that they’re going along with plans regardless of their fears because they’re so worried about missing out.
There’s this very strong “seize the opportunity” feeling at the moment – that we don’t know how long this good thing will last. After the false start of Summer 2020, I think there’s a very real fear that, just as we thought normality was returning, we could go back into another lockdown. So we’re getting our kicks while we can, even if that unfortunately means exhausting ourselves in the process.
I guess when it comes to balancing play with rest, practice will make perfect. We will fall back into socialising eventually, in a way that feels safe and comfortable. But for now, I think it might be coffee dates I need to schedule more of, for a much needed caffeine hit.
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