Socialising Will Take A While To Feel Right

by James Hendicott

I’ve been meeting new people, at a distance, for the first time this week since the start of all this coronavirus carry on.

While I’m not claiming any titles when it comes to being the most social animal you’ll ever come across, this is something I’ve been looking forward to for some time. I’ve moved to a new community during all this, and there’s only so much time you can spend looking at four walls with your connections largely half a city away.

Truthfully, though, I’ve found it hard. I’ve lost the art of small talk, at least to some degree. I feel like I don’t have a lot to say or the natural fluidity to say it, in part because for a long time, I’ve not had a lot to do. There are no great sweeping achievements to my last year, but nor are there really and funny anecdotes or natural talking points. It’s had its moments, but there’s been a lot of sadness, isolation and the struggles of change.

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I think it’s important, though, that we acknowledge that things aren’t just going to bounce back easily. It’s unfortunate that I’m learning this lesson in the relative discomfort of a new community rather than surrounded by familiar support, but it’s part of an adaptation process. It’s ok not to be able to connect in quite the same way; to feel like the concept is a bit alien.

Real connection, after all, doesn’t revolve around the weather or the plans you have for the weekend. It revolves around empathy and shared interests, understanding and synchronicity, and all of that feels a bit lost. I’m hoping, as those plans for the weekend come back a little stronger, we can connect over a return of normality, and the sheer act of meeting people you don’t already know and having a conversation – rather than leaving a firm two metres – becomes normal again.

I’m anxious about those days, as I’m out of practise. But I’m craving them, too.

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