Anyone who knows me knows these things about me: I am an introvert and I do not like to start conversations. However, if an already started conversation is about a topic I like and know well, I will probably take over the conversation. I would prefer to spend a night at home reading a book or watching a movie from the Golden Age of Hollywood than spend a night out. Nevertheless, if a close friend of mine is going to a school-hosted event, then I may be persuaded to go. All in all, I’m a pretty typical homebody.
However, since March 2020, I have been in a very untypical situation. I stayed at home for longer than even the typical homebody would, namely a year and a half. This is long enough for even the most content isolationist to go mad. The tiny house I shared with my family started to feel like a magician’s disappearing box. My family’s faces became so familiar that I could describe them down to the tiniest detail. Food got delivered by an anonymous, amorphous being. Essentially, I had become a hermit living with other hermits. Though I love my family, I could not help but be nostalgic for the “simpler times” of 2019. School had become a faraway, somewhat foggy memory for me. All I knew was Zoom. My motivation started to deplete.
Yet, it was not all bad. I didn’t do many of the cliché things to do during the shutdown: I didn’t make sourdough bread, give myself a “trendy” at-home haircut, or binge too many shows. I sort of became content with doing, well, nothing. I am normally a doer. I get involved in activities. I plan things WAY out in advance, down to tiny details. Staying at home gave me a rest from all that. There wasn’t anything for me to plan or do, outside of my few commitments, chores and schoolwork. And the longer I stayed at home, the more this became fine. In a time where there seemed to be no control, staying at home actually gave me more control in my interactions. Other than my family and school, I could determine who I wanted to interact with and at what time. I might be powerless to fix what’s going on in the world, but I at least had this. Ironically, Zoom might’ve brought me closer to people I had only just started to get to know. I personally can’t become well acquainted with others in a group setting, so I benefited from the one-on-one interactions of Zoom where there isn’t much to distract. It also allowed me to reach out to people I hadn’t seen in a while, such as a friend who had moved to Iowa.
I frequently get asked how I feel about being back on campus, and my answer is complicated. My initial reaction to starting this semester was nervousness. I was nervous that the safety precautions I had taken would be for naught, and I was quite reluctant to pop the bubble I had made for myself. I was excited to hang out with my friends in person again, but what about the people I had become friendlier with over Zoom? Would they like me as much in the flesh, and would I too? How am I going to react to the spontaneous interactions that come with “normal life?” Would I be able to respond correctly, or would I bluescreen? Despite my concerns, things have been going well so far, and I am curious to see how they progress.