Skip to main content

Being socially awkward in a social world

by Ash McGuinness - July, 2021

I spent most of last year wanting to be allowed out into the world; to see my friends and family, sip margaritas under a palm tree by the ocean and return to normalcy. But now I’ve had a small slice of freedom, it doesn’t feel the same as I’d hoped for. As a very social person who gets FOMO on the regular, I seem to be retreating to the safety of my home when instead I should be out enjoying the start to the summer.

Have I become socially awkward?

The irony is, after spending the last year partaking in “forced fun” Zoom quizzes (#sorrynotsorry) and dreaming of socialising IRL, up until recently, I was convincing everyone that I was keeping a “low profile,” so I didn’t come across as boring.

I’ve come to realise that our new-found freedom is more like forced fun. With the pre-booking, app downloading, and 2-hr table turnaround, there’s no longer spontaneity about popping to the pub and seeing where the day (and night) takes you.

The past 18 months has programmed us (me and my close friends) into entirely new beings.

What I have done, is taken the time to listen to myself, focus on my health and mental wellbeing, started new hobbies, hit new personal bests, stepped into new routines, cut back A LOT on social hobbies and just prioritised myself for the first time. Unravelling all of that inner work by going out on a bender seems a little excessive.

I’ve come to realise it’s about spending time with people I want to – who lift you up and who adds value to your life, instead of spending time with people because they are with the group of friends you want to see. It’s not about that anymore. Gone are the days of “look at me and how popular I am” on social media, although I feel like that is creeping back into existence. Of course, with that in mind, you might be invited to fewer social events moving forward. Still, secretly you’re cheering inside because the thought of waking up with one less hangover and having free time to work on yourself and your personal goals is more satisfying than being validated by strangers on social media.

That, my friend, is what we call #growth.

(Or just the realisation that you’re about to spend £35 on a bottle of Prosecco, whilst sat on the pavement of the high street, is just the same as the £10 bottle you can enjoy from the comfort of your sofa at home.)

And now, offices are starting to reopen too. For many, the thought of going back to work is an exciting prospect. For others – the introverts that have thrived during remote working – it’s pretty daunting. And then you have a bunch of people who are indifferent.

For me, it’s time to get excited about life again, but on my own terms. There might be occasions that I feel overwhelmed, but it’s important to push through my comfort zone and open up to all the experiences we’ve all been missing out on. For everyone who feels this way, we just need to remember to safeguard our practices, not feel the social pressure to conform and be a shepherd in life, not a sheep.