Thursday, June 23, 2022

Readjusting to Socializing

by Carolyn Abele, MS, LPC

Coming out of a pandemic has been one of the most challenging transitions I have ever encountered.  I constantly hear Gloria Estefan sing, “Coming out of the dark, finally see the light now, it’s shining on meeeeeeeee” when I enter the world and interact with others.  It’s like my brain picked the post random song to somehow explain to my system what is going on.  I am finding I now need to change my social battery less frequently, and it takes longer to recover after being social. Readjusting to interacting and socializing has showed me that my energy doesn’t match the output needed, and I must adjust how I move in life.

In quarantine I found I learned to slow down and just be.  Be quiet, be content, move slow.  Now as we return to some kind of “new normal” I am finding that I am giving myself permission to say “no”.  No to the party. No to dinner in a loud, crowded restaurant. No to my kids who want to go to Target on the weekend.  I mean, Target is my place, but never on a busy weekend day.  I want to quietly stroll the aisles and get the things I need versus want.  I’ve learned a sense of calm satisfaction to get just what is needed and nothing more.  No stockpiling extras, no “just in case” snacks.  Life can be simpler.  “No, thank you”, “No, thanks that’s really not my thing”, or “Nope” come out of my mouth more freely, without guilt.  

Just a few weeks ago my whole family went to a school event.  It was loud and insane.  Ahead of time, I was feeling a little peeved knowing I would have to leave in the middle of it to take my daughter to dance class.  I anticipated that she was going to have a really hard transition, and I didn’t want the drama or to have to make her leave unwillingly.  Funny enough, I worried about something that wasn’t even an issue.  My husband and I playfully argued over who GOT to leave the party and go to ballet that night (playing taxi was typically not a desired Friday night!).  After less than thirty minutes, both of us were done, and our daughter was too.  Leaving a highly stimulating buzz of activity midstream may have been a hardship two years ago, but now? We all adjusted to a quieter life, and in the transition back to the whirlwind of before, we can feel overwhelmed. It’s okay to let it be what it is now. And let ourselves feel what we feel now. Sometimes it is too much. We don’t need to be at all the events, all of the time, for the whole time.  

I’m leaning in as my system and body tell me when enough is enough.  I give myself permission when I don’t want to do something social.  I chose events that appeal to me and to my family.  When I chose what to attend, I am almost always happy I went. I also love coming home again. I have “come out of the dark” (as Gloria Estefan reminds me), and I am much more tuned in to my internal energy and the experiences that feed and deplete me.
Carolyn Abele, MS, LPC works with teens and families as well as individuals.  She specializes in working with individuals with anxiety and depression, as well has helping adolescents and their families with behavior related challenges. To connect with Carolyn, please call 215-354-7941 or visit her website.