emerging from a cave


How many of you are a little nervous about re-entry? That delicate process of re-engaging with friends, family and coworkers as the restrictions on interactions loosen and the immunization rates rise? For months now I have been sad about the inability to see people in the way we’re used to, to cook dinners for a dozen or more, to have an actual party with multiple guests. And now that we’re looking at some version of social interaction, I’m a little anxious. I am afraid that I may have lost what slim social skills I once possessed and will not be able to carry on a conversation that isn’t about COVID, or BC Ferries, or vaccines.  But truly, what else have we been doing to share with others? That trip we took or are planning? Nope. That concert we attended? Nope, unless it was online, and they all have been. The conference, the shopping spree, the restaurant visits? Nope, nope and nope.  Thank goodness we can talk about all the books we’ve read, the shows we’ve binge watched, and the social media spiral we’ve become trapped in.

Researchers are finding those with social anxiety are most stressed about reentry but even normally gregarious extroverts are feeling the pressure of coming out of the bubble in great shape, with new skills, and loads to talk about. Because human beings like patterns and routines, we adjust to change and it becomes our normal. Now, after adjusting to the isolation of staying at home for over a year, we have to adjust to the reality of being freed up. Imagine we have been in a cave for months and now emerge, blinking against the brightness of the sky, wondering: what do I do now?

Interestingly, while many of us have missed the social interaction that comes from live events and face to face encounters, many introverts are reporting they prefer this virtual world and even find it less intimidating than the real thing. That, in comparison to non-introverts, who admit to camera anxiety even though they were never awkward in “the world before”.

And what protocols will we follow or abandon? Mask use is almost voluntary, or will be soon, but will you continue to mask up in the grocery store? Will you go back to hugs?

One of the hallmarks of contemporary leadership is the ability to show vulnerability and doubt. This is a good time to have frank conversations about what the next phase of our lives is going to look like and how we can help each other over the threshold.

This will be a significant communication; if you need help to get it right, get in touch.

Joanna Piros