Phase one of easing lockdown restrictions in Ireland has taught us one thing – we are all craving human to human connections
I would class myself as an extrovert with introvert tendencies.
No matter how much I love being in the presence of people, there is a large part of me that treasures a solitary life. When quarantine began I made the most of being alone. My immediate family was beside me, but being close to relatives such as a mother, father, or sibling can sometimes just feel like an amplification of myself.
FOMO (fear of missing out) is the ultimate millennial affliction. No matter how much we fitted into our social calendars, we always felt like we were being robbed of another experience – one more exciting or Instagram-worthy. FOMO was the byproduct of too much choice. We had it all.
And then it was taken away.
But I never missed the FOMO and, for a while, I didn't miss the people either. Perfectly happy in my own cave, I was grateful for my lot. Lucky to have my nearest and dearest in the next room, when so many could only pretend to touch theirs through the glazing of a window.
Then last week, in what felt like week 110 in lockdown, I broke. I realised I was starving. The kind of intense hunger that makes you feel like you could vomit. I wanted to see people. I missed all the other people that made life before coronavirus so rich and complete. My friends, my boyfriend, my aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbours and random people who had the power to make my day.
I cried and I cried. I stayed in bed under the covers and drew the curtains. I texted a friend and told her the only word to describe my feeling was 'lonesome'.
Why had I adapted so quickly and broken apart even faster? In hindsight, I believe my body went into shock. Like any traumatic experience, there is a physical and emotional response. To protect ourselves, we adapted quickly and fuelled by adrenaline, we kept going.
In the weeks and months ahead, we will begin to see the wounds of this trauma and the deeper effects it has constructed. Lack of human interaction and touch has caused different types of heartache and heartbreak. We will have to learn to reestablish ourselves in the outside world.
Although, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Phase one saw us being allowed to meet up to four people from different households outside, once social distancing rules were implemented.
Like many over the weekend, my friends and I took full advantage. Within the five-kilometre radius, four of us sat in a back garden with our chairs two metres apart.
It was bliss.
We were the human incarnation of over-excited puppies. We screamed, we shouted, we sang. Though we couldn't hug or touch, it was enough for now. The sun shone and we did too.
I felt replenished. I was stocked up like a full shelf.
It gave us a glimpse of normality and allowed us to dream of times when fear and anxiety won't follow us like domineering shadows. Being able to experience a facet of life outside of our immediate bubble showed us that we are still who we were. Though the landscape has changed and life has shuffled, our inherent being is still alive and well.
My experience of isolation was not as severe as others and it made me think of those less fortunate. There are people living on their own who have had to battle all of the motions and emotions of lockdown without help. We need to remember them and check-in whenever we can.
They need people too.
And this is the essence of human nature; we need each other. People depend on people. Human relationships and communication in even the smallest form are as important as air. We live in a world connected by technology but it can never hold the same weight as dancing in a packed room with a crowd of people to the same song.
This pandemic has lent us an encyclopedia of lessons. The teachings we learn here are ones we will keep. However, the most eminent is that we can't do it alone.
Though sitting two metres apart in gardens will do for now, we are yearning to be closer.
Life is better together.
I think both extroverts and introverts can agree on that.
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