Re-engaging with Friends and Family in this “New Normal”.
When the lockdown began in Toronto, Ontario back in March 2020, I was overrun with emotions of boredom as I thought “How will I fill my days?”. At first, the social and mental break was welcomed, but as the weeks, turned into months, I started to form a “new normal” that felt comforting. I did my best to remain in contact with my close friends and family, felt I had a good grip on my workout routine, and enjoyed the excess time where I could spend an hour or two cooking a nice meal or baking a special treat. However, this “new normal” became my “normal”, so when shops and dining started to reopen earlier this summer, and my household of 2, turned into 4+ friends in a park, I was initially excited to re-engage with my old life, and see my week start to fill up with plans outside of my nightly dates with Netflix, Crave or Prime. However, I quickly came to realize I’m not the same person I was back in March 2020. Let me prefix, I have always classified myself as an extrovert. In my old life, pre-pandemic, I found that social interaction fueled me. However, a year has passed and I’ve quickly had to come to terms with the fact that I’m not the same person I once was. I still enjoy my time with friends and family, but a full day, or even afternoon, of interaction can feel draining. Now, after learning more about myself in this past year, I find comfort in my alone time, and genuinely need those moments to feel like my best, most full self. At first this was hard to articulate or even understand, so I thought I would share 3 things that helped me better re-emerge as my new self:
When I was asked to meet a friend for dinner, go hangout in the park or grab a coffee, my answer was initially YES. I had the idea that “If an opportunity presents itself, you should do it! You’ve waited a year for this”. This turned out to be rather exhausting, and I missed the endless nights where I could snuggle up on the couch, prioritize errands or just relax with a good book. Balancing your “Yes” self will be critical as we take the time to find the balance that works for us. I now understand that those opportunities will always be present, and in order to appreciate each one, I need to prioritize myself and understand where I am on the “social scale”. If it’s been a long day, or I feel like spending some time on my own, I know It’s okay to say no. Ultimately, it’s about accepting what will bring you back to your best, most happy self. It may have been people that fueled this in the past, but we’ve all evolved over the last year, and we need to take the time to appreciate who and where we are now. Finding this balance will not always easy, but acknowledging where you are at and what will fuel you that day, will be crucial.
Prioritization is Key.
It can be hard to evaluate everyone who has had an impact in your life, weather that be a partner, family, friends or colleagues. However, in these unusual times, prioritizing your relationships will help you identify what’s worth saying yes to. At one point, your “household” may have been just you, a roommate, a partner or your family. Now that we have the option to welcome others into our inner circle, it’s important to identify the role each of these individuals play. As much as you’ve changed in the last year and a half, so has everyone else. My rule of thumb is to stick to those whom I’ve valued keeping in close contact with throughout the pandemic, and eventually build out from there. At the same time, people who you may have been close with in the past may not bring the same value to you now. It’s okay to let go and use this opportunity as a fresh beginning.
Don’t create your old life, build a new one.
The first mistake I made when shops and dining re-opened was trying to embody the old version of myself, the one that existed pre-pandemic. 2 years ago, I somehow managed to work a full 8 hours and still have the mental and social capacity to see a friend or two. Trying to mimic those same traits now left me feeling exhausted. I quickly realized that I’m no longer the same person I was before numerous months of isolation and that’s okay. As a result, I’ve learned to listen to myself, rather than ignore my physical and mental queues. If I’m tired, energetic or somewhere in-between, I make my decisions wisely and accordingly, trusting that it will result in the best version of myself, for me or the person I’m choosing to spend time with.
All in all, the last year and a half has been difficult on everyone. It’s ok to feel overwhelmed or unsure, and you’re not in this alone. Trust those you surround yourself with to understand where you’re at, if you’re feeling run-down, or have booked yourself too thin, it’s okay to say no. Prioritize those that are closest to you, and build out the rest of your time as you feel comfortable. Remember that this is a new you, and you don’t need to re-engage with old habits or people, if they don’t fill you up and make you feel like the best version of yourself.
We’re all in this together.
Written by Mackenzie Worthy
At the OLVE, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We are not affiliated nor do we have an advertising partnerships with the brands we may feature.