I want to be honest for once. I am finally admitting that I am mentally and socially having a hard time right now. I am not doing okay, and I am straight up not having a good time. There is nothing fun about 2020, and if you are fighting a mental illness or working through your own matters, this year has turned that effort into a full-time job.
Before COVID-19, I was having issues with social anxiety. My weekends consisted of staying at home and enjoying the quiet. I occasionally went out when I felt like being social. In most cases, the few friends I do have would each guide me out of my dwelling for a few hours for some activity that included minimal social interaction. My friends know that if I get socially overwhelmed, I will go home. I appreciate these friends for noticing when I am socially withdrawing from the current environment.
Since quarantine started, my upstairs apartment neighbors were also home a lot more. My neighbors are noisy, and they have a pet that has been cooped up inside. I try to be accommodating with the situation, but it is hard to deal with external noise. This exasperation, mixed with the worldwide plea to stay home to “stop the spread,” has only solidified my feelings to stay away from people and has enhanced my social anxiety. I started asking myself the question, “Am I using COVID-19 as an excuse to socially distance (which is reaffirming and causing a resurgence of my social anxiety) or am I just trying to be safe for the well-being of others?” The thought of being around people and having to interact, even in a socially distanced setting, is extremely anxiety inducing. I have realized that I am using COVID-19 as a shield to keep myself from people and away from social situations. I recognize the need to socially distance, but the months of social distancing are making me feel completely disconnected from reality.
I made a bunch of social progress in 2019. I was the cruise director on a ship that finally left the dock, and I was venturing out on my own into a metaphorical harbor. I was starting to go out to social events while accompanying people I knew with some willingness to meet others. I finally felt like I could try to meet people on my own, and maybe even begin to start thinking about dating again. The progress I was making in 2019 while trying to open myself up to more social situations has been lost.
While this sounds dramatic, I do not know if I can emotionally recover. Social anxiety does not go away overnight. It takes time, effort, and consistency to build comfortable relationships. I can safely say that I am straight up not having a good time, and it feels like my ship just sunk to the bottom of the harbor.
I hope you are honest and gentle with yourself and your feelings as 2020 continues to surprise us daily.
Stay crunchy, ya’ll.