My Troubles Trying to Talk and Be Around People After Social Distancing
April 15, 2022
Since April 2020, I, like the rest of the world, tried to social distance from others. For me, the pandemic really hit me and the area where I live in April. Even though panic buying started earlier than that, the effects of the pandemic such as social distancing was not implemented until April. Now, it’s April 2022 and I began to realize that I spent so much time away from other people that I’m struggling trying to adapt to interacting with people in person again.
I’m a normally soft spoken person, but the volume of my voice isn’t an indication of how much I can talk. I can be a very talkative person if I feel like I have the chance to talk to someone who wants to have a full blown conversation with me! I just can’t talk at a loud volume. Yet, after the start of social distancing, I feel like my ability to talk and use words in a sentence that I don’t normally use on a daily basis decreased badly. I can still do it and this is not a memory problem, but I seem to be “out of practice” when it comes to communicating with others. Around the start of the pandemic, a family member of a friend of mine told me that they are telling my friend to call me on a daily basis. The reason is to keep my friend and I’s communication skills sharp. I didn’t understand why until this past week.
This past week was an odd week. There was a special event near where I live that draws tens of thousands of people to the area for the event. It’s normal to see many new people in the area and communication with them is sometimes hard, especially if they came from out of state for the event and they talk with a thick accent and slang terms I have no idea what they mean. Still, it was a wake up call to me that, after two years of being away from people except through phone calls and video chats, I’m not as well practiced in talking and communicating around people. And neither are they.
After a few confusing sentences were exchanged, I though about the way I phrased my words and realized it was confusing to them. So, I decided to change the way I talked and the words I used to talk. This fixed the problem and, much to my joy, the person I talked to changed the words they used as well. To be honest, I haven’t had a great conversation that is easy to understand with someone I haven’t talk to on a regular basis since the start of the pandemic.
And this is why I started to watch myself and the way I talked to people I didn’t know. I am still soft spoken, but I also began to see I’m not able to communicate or enjoy being around people like I used to. I started to catch myself acting standoffish to people at the store and not wanting to talk to someone while standing in line at the grocery store. I didn’t do this because I hate being around people. I did this because I was still nervous to be around people because of the pandemic.
As things start to open up again, I’m starting to see how hard it is to start talking to people and to be around people in general. Whenever the event takes place, I am put off not only by the amount of people in the area, but rowdy behavior of some of the people that come for the event. They also don’t try to act respectful of the people who live in the area or anyone that uses different slang terms or has a different accent that what they are used to. And that’s why I’m so glad I continued to talk to my friend daily from the start of the pandemic onward.
My friend’s relative knew I talked differently than my friend. I phrase my words differently and describe things differently than she does. They also knew they talked differently than me. My friend’s relatives are not originally from the United States, so their accents are different than mine. That’s why, even though we couldn’t see each other in person, we could still talk to each other and keep our communication skills sharp. The reason why my friend’s relative wanted this is because they knew people when they were children and well into adulthood that lived in rural areas with few people to talk to. The more time they spent away from people, the harder it was for them to speak to people once they came into town. There wasn’t anything wrong with them or their memory. They were just cut off from other humans, which caused them to no longer need to communicate with others. And like the saying goes, if you don’t use it, you’ll loose it.
My friend, her family members, and I all live in rural areas. No where near as remote as the area the people my friend’s relatives knew, but remote enough to potentially cause problems with us and our communication skills. Talking to them as well as their extended family, their friends, and anyone else they knew who wanted to talk to me just to have some to talk to was so important not only to my mental and emotional health and well being, but my physical well being as well. Talking to them made my brain think and work in ways it wasn’t being pushed to do prior to the start of the pandemic. I didn’t need to push myself to think the way I did back then, but I am happy I did because I’m better now because of it.
Not everyone had someone to talk to as much as I did. Not everyone has someone in their social circles that is aware of the problems that come from being cut off from other humans like I did. Yet, I think it is still important to continue to talk to someone in person by mouth, especially if the area where you live is starting to open to the rest of the nation if not the world again. If you don’t have a group to talk to like I do, find ways of talking to others at work or while shopping. You don’t need to talk to someone specific or someone who is from a different area than where you live. Just talk about normal things, such as the weather or how busy the area is at that time. You don’t need to go into depth about your personal life or anything you don’t feel comfortable talking about (Such as politics or your love life).