Hey guys! Long time no chat. So, update on my life— I’m engaged! I know what you’re thinking. Yay, you but what does this have to do with strengthening my social muscle? Well, let’s just say that in the last month all I have been thinking about are social gatherings- engagement parties, bridal showers, dress fittings, family dinners- and while all of this makes me giddy to plan, I know that there are plenty other people in my world that are having anxiety about how to do this safely and in a way where everyone can still enjoy one another.
Let’s begin by calling out the elephant in the room. Regardless of your political belief, we cannot argue that COVID is still a thing. A thing to consider, to monitor and that many are basing their decisions around. We have been waiting for the day when concerts are back, we can go watch a football game and weddings don’t have to be elopements. As wonderful as it is, now that it’s here many of us are experiencing a new type of anxiety- how to reintegrate after a year and a half of being fairly isolated from the world at large.
My clients and friends have shared that they feel like they suddenly have social anxiety; that the mere thought of seeing people in real life is striking a nerve that was never sensitive. What I have encouraged each of them to do is to pinpoint what part of the social situation feels scary. Yes, I’m going back to my favorite therapeutic mantra of “name it to tame it”.
Some clients feel self-conscious to see people after believing they’ve gained the COVID-15. Other people are uncertain of their friends’ and families’ vaccine status and don’t want to ask questions for fear of insulting them. Many teens are feeling out of practice when it comes to talking IRL (in real life) after leaning so heavily on social media. The variables and intricacies go on.
It’s important to identify what your specific concern is so that you’re able to figure out the best solution. Once you know the concern, I encourage you to identify what your boundaries and needs are. This will vary based on pre-existing social anxiety, vaccine status, if you’re immunocompromised, etc. This boundary is yours to create. You do not have to apologize or feel bad for it. You need to own it, honor it, and then communicate it with those who matter. Acknowledge that it may feel uncomfortable or awkward but that ultimately sticking to your boundary will allow you to participate and enjoy whatever is going on.
If you’re worried about putting yourself out there, start small. Try out gradual exposure where you chat with people at Trader Joes. Next, grab coffee with a friend. From there you can graduate to dinner and before you know it a party, concert or a wedding may seem more doable. Throughout the exposures continue to monitor how you’re feeling, if the boundaries are helping or if you need more, and if you are communicating your needs enough. This process will likely need to be repeated for each event as all gatherings are not created equal.
The biggest take away is this: all of these experiences and emotions surrounding them are temporary. Fortunately, the pandemic is continuing to improve and we will adjust to this new normal soon enough. During this transition time be gentle with yourselves and your loved ones. We are all processing this on different levels and need to create space for that.
Things will continue to get better. You are not alone. Millions of people are feeling this way and there are plenty of people that can help. If you don’t have anyone in your immediate support system, it has never been easier to find a therapist that can help walk you through this, virtually or in-person. What I want for each of you is to be able to get to the other side of this wonky time is to know that you’ve stood up for yourself and your values, all while continuing to stay engaged in the world as much as you can.
Hi! My name is Marina. I am a twenty-something therapist living in a plugged-in world, with a pressure to do it all, all while trying to stay sane. I recognize that the twenties and entering in adulthood can be both a trying and exciting time. Because of that, I want to use both my clinical and real-life education to provide support for those out there that are trying to figure out how to make it in the real world.
In my practice, I love working with this demographic because of the amount of opportunities and possibilities available. I am fortunate to have the unique ability of being able to relate to individuals living in this decade on a real level and provide tangible support and tools. When I am not talking to someone in my office, I love talking to large groups of people, providing presentations at schools, community organizations, and businesses on topics ranging from teens and technology to work-life balance.
Additionally, I am an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology program
I am thrilled to learn more about the readers of The Daily Feels and help each other figure out this crazy and exciting time of life together!