An article I wrote for Red Magazine about dealing with shyness, as lockdown eases and we’re expected to become sociable again…
Towards the end of the first lockdown, I arranged to meet a neighbour for a socially-distanced cup of tea on the street.
All day, I felt excited about nattering to a female friend. But as the time approached, I started panicking. I wasn’t sure I wanted to meet her anymore. Perhaps I was concerned I wouldn’t have anything to say but I’m not sure, because all I felt was ‘panic’. There was no rationalising.
I went for a walk to the shops and on returning, noticed that my neighbour was already out on the street. As I approached her, shopping in hands, she greeted me warmly.
We started chatting and quickly slipped into a comfortable conversation – opening up about what we’d been struggling with, laughing about our homeschooling efforts and just generally being friendly and sociable. It felt so good.
This apprehension I’d felt about meeting, even in this casual setting, is what many others might be feeling as restrictions are slowly being lifted.
Psychotherapist Kemi Omijeh explains that if you’re naturally a shy person, lockdown will have brought that out in you. She says: ‘Perhaps you have adjusted to socialising, working, because you know that society expects that. Lockdown gave you a welcome break from that, no more pretending.’ But following the quarantine, she says we may need to learn to socialise again.
Click here to read the rest of this piece – with tips for reintegrating after lockdown – at Red (Magazine) Online