Social distancing is a concept we've never instituted as a society before. We have never found ourselves so far apart as a species. Despite all efforts to maintain contact with one another, human beings are social and crave human connection. We can all acknowledge how social distancing is going to maintain our society's physical health in the long term, but a subject that has been much less talked about is what social distancing feels like in the short term. After doing this for over a month, here are my thoughts on what social distancing FEELS like.
Social distancing feels like people avoiding you in your own town.
The small town that I love, where I know almost everyone I see, has become people crossing streets just to avoid coming within 6 feet of one another. It's become avoiding conversation, pulling a mask up when you see your neighbor, and not helping someone pick up their groceries when they drop them.
Social distancing feels like being displaced.
It feels like packing up your dorm room in a span of 48 hours. It feels like missing your friends and the life that you had at school. It's going on Zoom calls with your friends on a Friday night just to feel a little bit of normalcy, trying to be a leader in your clubs and organizations when you're just as confused as everyone else, and reconnecting with a life that you may not have been ready to come home to yet.
Social distancing feels like a lack of motivation.
Taking a heavy course load at school sounded like a great idea, but now there's no library to study in and your family is always around and there's distractions everywhere. How are you supposed to focus on classes without your study buddy? How are you supposed to understand difficult concepts without going to your favorite professor's office hours? How are you supposed to decompress after a long week without all of your friends and peers who are all in the same boat as you?
Social distancing feels like missing human touch.
It feels like missing being able to squeeze your friends when they're having a bad day. It's wondering when the next time will be that you'll feel your boyfriend wrap his arms around you and spin you around the room. It's feeling crazy for ever taking little things like a hand hold or a warm hug for granted, and promising yourself that you will never forget what it feels like to go without them for so long.
But, social distancing also feels like connecting with family and friends from your hometown.
It feels like seeing your grandma (even if it's from six feet away) when you didn't think that you would be able to see her for another 3 months. It's being able to drop off cupcakes to your best friend for her birthday, make TikToks with your sister until 2am, or binge watch a Netflix series with your parents. It's the excitement that your dogs have every morning when they wake up and realize you're still here.
Social distancing feels like we're doing something good.
Even though it feels distant and lonely, it feels like we're helping people. It feels like we're helping nurses and doctors who work tirelessly to save lives. It feels like we're giving grocery store workers a break after stocking shelves all day so that we can eat. It feels like we're a little more grateful for the Amazon worker who delivers our packages every week. And most of all, it feels like after all of this is over, we will never take the small things that we miss so much for granted ever again.