It’s Summertime, And The Living Is Marginally Easier

By Jack Canfora

“Do you always wait for the longest day of the summer and then miss it?” asked Daisy Buchanan. “We should do something,” American literature’s shallowest character continues, before asking, “What do people do?” It’s a fair question. We’re heading into perhaps the most eagerly awaited summer of many of our lives. A year and half of cabin fever and panic, there’s finally a sense that we can maybe inch our our way back to some feeling of, well, feeling.

I went to my first post-pandemic party last weekend – an engagement party for a friend. I had a great time, but what I found, not very surprisingly, is that I was exhausted afterwards. Bone weary, despite the lack of physical exertion or even conscious stress.

When we’re first learning to walk, our body has to consciously learn the dozens of slight muscular adjustments and rebalancing it takes every second just to stand up, let alone move where we want to. I think the same thing the same thing happens to us socially. The countless, fractional, subconscious adjustments we make to read body language, tone, group behavior, in short – being with other humans – are ingrained in us early and often. Granted, some of us are less adept than others, just as some people can run faster than others. But we all have these muscles, and they all work beneath the radar of our conscious minds constantly.

Foe me, anyway, the last 15 months or so have caused a slow but inexorable atrophy of those muscles. Not the walking ones. I can still walk as well as ever, which frankly, has never been my forte. The social muscles have slowed and lost any sense of stamina. But I expect they’ll return, even if they lag a bit longer than we would have expected.

That’s OK. Give yourself time. And realize everyone around probably needs some time, too. Also, wear sunscreen. Have a happy summer! That, Mrs. Buchanan, is what I’m planning on doing.

To be clear, that pool isn’t mine.

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10 thoughts on “It’s Summertime, And The Living Is Marginally Easier

  1. My social muscles have also atrophied but I don’t think I really want to regain them… I’ve learnt an immense amount about myself and have grown so much since not relying on the social crutch. 🥴

  2. I never had social muscles to begin with. The unsocial period of COVID did not bother me as that is how my life has always been. No change there. The crisis is drawing to a conclusion and I get to feel alien again.

  3. I can relate to this. I’ve become almost a recluse but I’m quite alright with it. I’m turning my attention to my physical muscles now.That’s a good thing.

    Wish you a happy summer!

  4. I’m echoing the general theme: I suppose I’ll get back out there some, but I’m enjoying my inner recluse 🌝

  5. Like you, I’ve had to relearn what it means to be with other people. (I’m not talking about being with their faces, on Zoom; we’ve all gotten fairly good with that. I’m talking about being with them “in the flesh.”) I have noticed that I tend to be somewhat extreme in my interactions. I either get weirdly uncomfortable during mundane exchanges–for example, while in the grocery store, asking a shelf stocker where I can find mayonnaise–or I embarrass myself by being a chatterbox. In the latter case, I find that I’m way overtalking. I go on and on, elaborating about things that are perfectly self-evident. I guess I need to work on finding a good middle ground.

  6. Thank you for explaining what happened to me earlier this week when I led 2 groups in a treatment facility for the first time in a year. I was surprised by how tired I was. You’re right – we’ll build these muscles back and find the stamina we once had.

  7. I have become this awkward person telling stories that people don’t want to hear and laughing at odd times. Who is this person! I was a social queen before. I could small talk my way into anyone’s heart.

  8. Well said, Jack. It’s definitely a slow-go getting back into the social scene. We could all use—and show—a little grace. Hope you’re enjoying summer, friend. 🦋

  9. my social skills have also definitely atrophied. The bright side, I found time to write and read more than I was able to before, which I am immensely thankful for. It has enabled me to set goals for my future and work towards that every day. If that comes at the expense of lacking some social skills, that’s fine. America has always favored the underdog anyways 🙂

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