Relearning to Be Sociable


March 24, 2021 by Jean

pickwick flowers 2021As Spring arrives, I feel that, like the plants in my garden, I’m emerging from a period of dormancy. Three weeks ago, I joined the ranks of those fully immunized against Covid-19, having completed the two weeks to let my immune response ramp up after my second shot of the Pfizer vaccine. But I’m finding that it’s not easy to break the months-long habit of keeping my distance from others.  I did a fair amount of outdoor socializing with others during the warm-weather months; but, despite my stated intentions to arrange at least one outdoor in-person interaction during the winter months, I instead gave in to the temptation to be a hermit. Now I’ve discovered that my social skills are rusty.

Recently, I heard an interview on public radio with a psychotherapist around this very issue; it seems that rusty social skills are a common problem after a year of pandemic isolation. The therapist recommended wading back into social life slowly rather than jumping into the deep end, so that is what I am trying to do. Two weeks ago, I visited with a fully vaccinated friend outside on her deck, and we took off our masks and shared cake and ice cream to celebrate my birthday. Last week, I cooked dinner for my fully vaccinated next door neighbor, and we both enjoyed the novelty of seeing one another’s faces, sharing a meal, and catching up on one another’s lives. I will continue trying to arrange one in-person, unmasked visit per week with others who are fully vaccinated. This week, I suddenly realized that I could ride in the car with fully vaccinated friends and go on some kind of an outing together – something to look forward to as spring turns into summer and as more and more of my social circle are vaccinated.

7 thoughts on “Relearning to Be Sociable

  1. GARY says:

    You are not alone Jean. I equated us getting the vaccine and the new freedoms like POW’s who were liberated. They were hesitant to leave their cells even with the doors wide open. It’s going to take time to feel comfortable.

    • Jean says:

      Gary, This is such a good analogy. I’m also finding that many in my social circle are feeling more cautious than I am. This hesitation about what we can safely do once we are vaccinated may be more pronounced among political liberals than among political conservatives. I recently saw a news story about some research about Covid-19 misinformation. The researchers found that those on the political right were likely to underestimate the dangers of the pandemic, but that those on the political left were equally likely to overestimate those dangers. (For example, when asked what % of people with Covid-19 had to be hospitalized, those on the political left gave estimates twenty times higher than reality.)

  2. Kelly says:

    Happy belated birthday Jean! I’ve received my first dose of vaccine and am looking forward to the next shot. I did go out briefly yesterday morning to go a garden center. I found a beautiful pansy basket that I am now enjoying. Glad to hear you are able to meet up with friends.

    • Jean says:

      Kelly, Fully-vaccinated status is definitely something to look forward to as spring unfolds. I’m even starting to think about a visit south to visit family in southern New England once they are all fully vaccinated. I have not been out of the state of Maine in more than a year, so the prospect seems quite an adventure.

  3. The Misadventures of Widowhood says:

    I have one more week of waiting after my second vaccine but already I feel freer and am planning a few things to get out and about. It will be great to see faces again!

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I am Jean Potuchek, a professional sociologist who has just stepped into the next phase of my life, retirement, after more than thirty years of college teaching. This blog is about my experience of that new phase of life.

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