- Natalie Collins
Stumped for conversation? Navigating post-pandemic reunions
With lockdown lifting, restrictions easing and our social lives a glimmer on the horizon it’s time to start getting back out there, into the world again. Although we’ve probably just got used to our inner monologue as a main source of conversation - or our partners grunting and children’s caterwauling - many of us are really feeling the distance and the pressure mounting.
Anyone else struggling to schedule plans, hold conversations, and totally forgot about that pedestrian jig (you know when someone’s walking towards you and you both do that dance to decide who will take the right or left to pass by?), kind of forgotten how to socialise?
After a difficult year, we’re eager, albeit apprehensive, to get back to reality and start living life to the max! But it’s taking a toll on our mental wellbeing that we probably weren’t expecting because 2020’s lack of stimulation means we might be feeling overstimulated just by stepping out of the house, and the total exhaustion and brain melt felt once we’ve returned home, can be a bit much.
Not to mention when we’ve actually braved the outside world, we’ve got a table in the beer garden or coffee shop, we’re reunited with friends and the greetings and niceties are out the way, but it turns out our conversational cups are running empty before we’ve even taken a sip of that first delicious pint - after a year of doing next-to-nothing, we’re a bit stumped!
"The social distancing practice over the last year - although important for our safety - has left us feeling a little disconnected from the outside world, our friends, families and people in general." Grace McMahon, Beingwell Life Coach
Just like the heels and dinner jackets that are hidden away gathering dust at the back of the wardrobe!
So if like us, the post-pandemic conversation is running dry, the brainpower required just isn’t there, or we’re feeling distanced, here’s a powerful go-to topic ready for the reunion!
Everyone’s had something good, bad and ugly going on behind the front door
Whether we’ve been graced with few challenges or had to embrace many, we’ve all had stuff going on in our household bubbles, and we’ve felt the strain. Try talking about how we are really doing, talk about yourself, ask others how they are, normalise that this hasn’t been nor is it going to be an easy time for everyone.
Celebrate accomplishments, despite the unforeseen circumstances - the lockdown babies, birthdays, engagements, new jobs, promotions - even simply keeping the house tidy for a whole 3 days (although we’d argue even one day is an achievement at this point).
Commiserate the difficulties that have dampened our spirits - losing loved ones, the moments missed with the family, job losses, financial troubles - even the broken washing machine (a nightmare in lockdown!) - this might be a tear-jerker for some but that’s totally ok.
Make it a game - each person gives a best and worst moment or a ‘peak’ and ‘trough’ of the last year (although it might be hard to pick just one), it could give numerous conversation starters, spur tantalising tangents and inevitably end with the weather - remember when it snowed in early April?
Here’s why talking about how we’re really doing can help reconnect;
It’ll normalise the struggles we’ve faced, individually, as groups, as people. Even though we’ve all had different experiences, we’ve all had something going on, and finding we’re not the only ones can be a great source of relief.
Our mental wellbeing has taken a hammering, and supporting each other will remind us it’s ok to not be ok, and we don’t need to put unnecessary pressure on ourselves (on top of existing pressures) to be upbeat, laughing and loving life.
It will bring that sense of community back, sharing what we’ve learnt, loved and utterly despised about the situation - remember lockdown 1.0 and all that banana bread, the increasingly tedious Zoom quizzes, and the daily hour of fresh air? Laugh (or cry) at that remix of Boris Johnson telling us “Just say no!” to our friends if they ask us to go out or how many times the news mentioned ‘uncertain and unprecedented times’ - as if we could forget.
Rekindle the connection: These conversations don’t have to last all evening, it doesn’t need to be a show and tell, and if it feels uncomfortable or weird just keep it brief. But by talking about how we are doing, really, we will begin to feel more at ease, reassured and reconnected by creating more meaningful conversations that spark the bonds in our friendships and rekindle the social love we have so dearly missed.
P.S. If you don't want to hug that's ok too.