Social Anxiety and Self-Isolation
Back in the day, and by that I mean a month ago, I barely noticed my anxiety. I had gotten to a point that I was actually looking for social events to connect with people, which I was embracing. As someone who has manageable social anxiety, I had gotten to the point that I could control when I saw people and when I did not. A happy medium between being by myself and others. There is a lot of comfort being happy by yourself.
Then we were all told to stay inside and not see anyone. In week two, Zoom came into my life. You would think that I would enjoy speaking with people over video chat, but the truth is, it causes me anxiety. At first it was really hard identifying what this feeling was. I was annoyed, I was trying to create a new routine and in the midst of everything, I felt like I had to make small talk, something I am bad at. At the beginning of a Zoom, it's always fine, but I then feel disconnected. After a lot of reflection, I remembered the feeling. It was exactly how I felt when I attempted to go to a wedding by myself; scary, unknown, and stressful. By the way, don't go to a wedding by yourself.
I feel I should be energized after a Zoom call and I know there is no pressure, but the feeling is still there. I participate, but it takes a lot of energy and I miss in-person meetings; I hope that no one feels offended. I am afraid no one will understand how I feel because "why wouldn't you want to see your friends?". It's not that I don't want to see my friends, I feel joy when I see those I love, it's that I feel worse after a Zoom chat than I did before. The video chat hasn't changed the situation I am in, I don't feel closer, I feel more distant.
I haven't been in a mood to chat, which is normal. I go through phases when I am creating new routines that I just lose touch and it's not that I don't love everyone around me, but I am working on establishing a life that works for me. I am trying to find comfort zones because right now, none of us are in a comfort zone (unless you are in which case, yay). All of this constant online presence has taken me out of my comfort zone. I know I seem like I would love this, but it's been hard and I am out of my comfort zone.
We as a society are trying to find ways to adapt to a life in which physical closeness is not an option, but the issue is that there is no opt-out button. Who knew social anxiety would be an issue right now? I don't always want to participate and I used to be so good at setting that boundary; people understood. Now, I have no idea how to set boundaries when I think everyone is thinking "what else does she have to do?". I feel I will be judged if I am not up to seeing people. It takes a lot of emotional energy and that sounds horrible, but it's reality.
We have to find ways to say no in this time; it's self-preservation. We have to find a way to accept that sometimes our friends aren't always going to be able to video chat. The last thing I want is to feel resentful and guilty when I am joining a video chat or saying no to video chat. I am trying to manage the stress of isolation and some would argue that getting together over a video chat might alleviate some stress and be fun. I would argue that I didn't always say yes to social engagements before, so why do I feel the pressure to do so now? I know, "way harsh", and it's not that it can't be fun, but I used to only do social activities every two to three weeks or so, I am not used to this. Managing stress is different for everyone. I much prefer one-on-one zoom calls or phone calls, I still like catching up, but not all the time.
I along with many others we are trying to find peace in a space that is simultaneously work, the gym, a yoga studio, my sleeping space, a spa/bathroom, and everything else. It takes time and all we can do is try our best and be gentle with ourselves.
Good luck, all my love,