I was the sort of person who valued my alone time—I actually didn't mind keeping to myself every once in a while. I enjoyed hanging out with my friends and officemates, but I didn't see anything wrong with eating or seeing a movie alone. My job required me to be a ~social butterfly~, which can be tiring at times for an introvert like me, so I was really grateful for all the times I was flying solo.
Back in March, when news broke of COVID-19 being labeled a pandemic, our company enforced an indefinite work from home system. While I was thankful (and definitely privileged) for this precaution, I admit that a small part of me was glad to have some time alone. Staying in my room the entire day with just my laptop, my bed, and the internet seemed like the perfect setup for an introvert. I was okay—until I wasn't.
Six months had passed since the lockdown was enforced, and with the much-needed light at the end of the tunnel still nowhere in sight, I was forced to reevaluate the state of my mental health within the four walls of my room. I noticed that I was more emotional. I would cry whenever I looked at photos and videos from my "old life." Putting on makeup, which used to be a relaxing activity for me, felt taxing and useless. Scrolling through social media was tiring and always left me with a feeling of anger and hopelessness. Suddenly, being alone, which used to feel like the ultimate introvert's dream, had lost its charm.
Although I didn't know it yet, a huge part of why I felt so down was due to the lack of human interaction. Staying at home for six whole months with no one but my family and dog for company gave me a serious case of cabin fever. I did all sorts of things to cope: Color my hair by myself, buy things online that I didn't need, and bake way too much. They were okay, but still not enough to fill the void. It was only when I had a chance to talk to my friends through video call that I truly felt like I wasn't alone.
According to a study, friendships have a significant impact on a person's well-being. The respondents with insufficient social support were the most likely to suffer from mental health disorders like anxiety and depression. And in this era of unwelcome solitude, connecting with friends is more important than ever. Here's how to master the art of quarantine socializing, straight from an introvert:
Initiate the conversation.
Making the first move is never easy, especially if you haven't talked to your friends for a long time, but it's a necessary first step. It doesn't have to be a super-long message detailing the fun times you all had pre-quarantine. A simple "Hi, how are you guys?" or even sending a funny meme that reminds you of them their way can make all the difference.
Make an effort.
Not seeing each other all the time due to the quarantine makes "ghosting" your friends so much easier, especially if you're not in the mood to socialize. It's easy to just chalk it up to not having a stable internet connection or being swamped with work.Continue reading below ↓
But now that you've made the first contact, you need to make an effort to actually maintain the rekindled connection. Every once in a while, my friends and I would call each other up on Facebook Messenger and just update each other with whatever's happening in our lives. Since most of us are working, we really have to dedicate time to be able to see each other virtually. It takes a bit of work, but the surge of serotonin I get whenever I'm with them is worth it.
We live in strange and tough times where so many things are out of our control. It's scary and anxiety-inducing. This is why the constants in our life, such as friendships, need to be bumped up higher on our maintenance priority list. They aren't just about talking every day or sending each other funny memes. It's all about being there for them through the good and bad. Sometimes, the simplest and most meaningful thing you can do for someone is to be there for them—even just virtually.Continue reading below ↓
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