How comfortable are you socializing?

Asking for all my friends

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Listen to this series on Black Canadian history by Media Girlfriends and Historica Canada. We are so proud of it. Because Black history is Canadian history. Episode 2 now available.


I’m a super-social person.

I already knew this but had it confirmed a few years ago when I took a Myers-Briggs personality test at a leadership conference. I pretty much scored off-the-charts for extroversion.

When I saw the number, my eyebrows shot up and I couldn’t get over it as I read the rest of my profile. It just didn’t seem very…balanced.

Fast forward to Covid times. Slamming the door shut on socializing last year was easy.

Sure, I love a party but I’m also very decisive and action-oriented about priorities (also in my personality profile, ha ha). There was no way I was going to endanger myself or others.

Today, vaccines and vaccine passports are thankfully providing protective measures.

However, I’m not doing social re-entry the way I predicted. Are you?

All this change is kind of too much for me. It feels fast. Previously, I had always identified as someone who loves change. But maybe there’s a limit.

The one time I recently went to a bona fide party was one month ago. It was a special occasion, kind of work-related, in a beautiful outdoor setting, with a few friends, lots of strangers and the friendly faces of acquaintances I hadn’t seen in years. Hors d’oeuvres. Music. A dress and heels.

We all did Covid screenings before entering and of course, I was double-vaxxed. But let me tell you one aspect of boozy, loud parties that I totally forgot: when a person talks too close and a tiny—but perceptible—globule of their spit lands on your face.

Reader, this happened to me. It’s a very common pre-pandemic experience for a night out. But in that moment, my mind began whirring with panicky mental math. Instead of running away screaming, I continued to nod, holding my wine glass aloft. (We’re such strange creatures — why do we need to stay cool even when we feel like dying inside?)

How I feel on the inside — byeeeee


When I woke up the next morning, I became immediately alert and had one thought: “Spit. Spit on my face.” Picture every movie scene you’ve seen of a genius in a lab, figuring out a cure for cancer, except it’s just me, in my pajamas, frozen in bed, trying to calculate viral load multiplied by risk to the power of OMG. Very science.

What are the chances of getting Covid at a party where everyone has been screened for symptoms? Not zero. And what would be the chances of passing on the virus to my family, were I to become infected? Very high.

It made me realize that I’m not ready for that kind of socializing yet. I jumped the gun. I don’t regret going, but I’m taking my reaction as information about my comfort level.

I don’t need to be on the forward edge of what’s permissible and socially acceptable. I will be fine right here on my couch under the blanket with my phone and group chats and bowl of chips. Now that we’re coming indoors, it’s that season. Again. Especially for people who live with children too young to be vaxxed.

I started out in the pandemic as a super-social person. Today, I’m just not the same and I’m okay with that.

Recently, I was with friends in a backyard, which felt special but also pandemic-normal, sitting around a fire at night. This is how I socialize now. And when it was brought up that there might be a plan to go dancing at a bar, I blankly asked, “Inside?”

Inside is my scary place, virus-wise. Going into urgent mental math mode, of trying to evaluate risk, is an imprecise coping mechanism. I’m not a scientist — I’m just a lady lying in bed, waking up the day after a party, and replaying the scene of the spittle.

With the weather changing, I’m trying to figure out my current boundaries.

While I don’t have all the answers, here’s what I’m thinking for me:

  • Socializing outdoors in cold weather works if you keep it moving (walk!)

  • There’s a small circle of adults, all vaxxed, who I will invite inside

  • Restaurants are on a case-by-case basis, but very low on my list

Meanwhile, I’m taking notes for myself on what I have done recently that felt comfortable:

  • I went to a small, outdoor wedding (it was gorgeous)

  • Thanksgiving dinner with my children and parents indoors (yes, some worry beforehand but we made this choice)

  • Book club, friend catch-ups, a clothing swap with friends, all outside

Right now, I’m trying to be okay with change and the fact that I’m adapting much more slowly than I predicted. 

Getting vaxxed in the spring and then going into summer didn’t turn out to be flipping a switch back into high-gear. There were lots of “I can’t wait!” vibes but maybe our nervous systems want us to wait. Or at least chill. And tread slowly. 

The emergency part of a crisis requires fast change, and how awesome it is that our brains are capable. But the slow denouement toward exiting this pandemic is just that — slow. Our brains sense there are still threats to our health and there’s this whole emotional toll we haven’t processed. And in any case, as it turns out this fall, I am still tired.

I asked on Instagram how comfortable people feel about socializing, and I heard back from many of you that social circles have shrunk. Makes sense. And several people wrote back that they’ll keep it low-key until their young children are vaxxed. Also makes sense.

While I really miss those larger circles of friends, acquaintances and neighbours, I feel lucky to have my inner circle. And each time I see someone in real life, I think to myself, “How special is this?”

Early in the pandemic, there were lots of think pieces on how we’d see a new roaring ‘20s once this was behind us. Sure, that will probably happen. But it’s not here yet and I’m fine with hibernating until it feels right.

Find me on Instagram and join the conversation. 

Thanks for reading, 

Hannah

✨✨✨ ATEOD is edited by Laura Hensley ✨✨✨


Further Reading

Six Rules That Will Define Our Second Pandemic Winter, The Atlantic

How the pandemic has rewired our brains, Maclean’s

The Labour of Immigrant Women, The Local

Freezer-burned bread and our problem with food waste, Carrick on Money (for Globe and Mail subscribers). How fun to open Rob Carrick’s newsletter to find a shout out to ATEOD. I had the pleasure of producing a couple of seasons of the Stress Test podcast he hosts with editor Roma Luciw. If you are looking for personal finance advice in a pandemic, look no further.


Did you know?

Media Girlfriends, the podcast company in which I’m a co-founder, created a podcast on Black Canadian history in collaboration with Historica Canada. Making this podcast, I learned so much about the legacy and innovation of Black hockey players in Canada. How much do you really know about Canada’s favourite sport? Listen to “Strong and Free” (find it in French as, “Fort et Libre”) and share it with the history buffs, life-long learners, teachers and students in your life.


Your next gig?

Chatelaine is looking for an executive editor to join their small but mighty team in a pivotal role. The ideal candidate is a seasoned editor with a far-reaching network, a wide range of ideas about what issues are relevant to Canadian women and a deep respect for a 35+ audience. Click for more here.


The Walrus Talks at Home: Reimagining Resilience

Come to a free, online event from The Walrus and listen to speakers explore the concept of resilience.

What does it mean when entire communities face daily challenges to living? Many communities are faced with systemic challenges that leave them with no choice but to be resilient.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. ET

Register here.


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