Right about now, we’re all feeling a bit twitchy. Whether you’re quarantined alone, with a roommate or two, or with your family, we’re not used to feeling so isolated and limited. There will either be more babies come the holidays, or more divorces.
While I’ve seen plenty of stories on how families or people with roommates can cope during this time of crisis, I’ve seen very little on the approximately 36 million Americans who live alone can endure this time of self-quarantine and social distancing without losing their gosh darn minds.
Singletons, like yours truly, who live alone and have always worked from home are no strangers to a form of “self-quarantine”. For the most part, we’re happy to just hang in with our pets on any given night and binge on Netflix.
I’ve always been comfortable being by myself. People often mistake being alone as lonely: “Don’t you get lonely sometimes being by yourself just the dogs all the time?” Nope. I am perfectly content in solitude. It doesn’t bother me, but since this whole thing started, I’ve wanted to be around people. I’ve actually considered going on a dating app, something I swore off years ago. There’s a difference between forced confinement and chosen solitude, and with the former, I’m beginning to get cabin fever. Social media and video calls have been my lifeline.
The beauty about being alone before is I could always leave. I could meet a friend for happy hour or take a quick trip up to my favorite sushi place and share a beer with the itamae. However, now I don’t have a choice. I technically can’t leave and have nowhere to go.
To help combat the desolation doldrums, I’ve hosted virtual Wine Wednesday and happy hour group video chats with my friends. We talk like we haven’t seen each other in years. We played games, listened to music, danced, put our pets on the call... We’ve had so much fun!
In a time of social distancing and quarantines, we crave some sort of touch point with the outside world beyond the TP run to the grocery store, if you can even find it. Seeing a familiar face these days is like a breath of mountain fresh COVID-free air.
We tend to take for granted that which we see every day or at least very frequently. I had forgotten how great it is to see my friends. It was so wonderful to actually speak with them in person, see their faces, and hold up a glass for a toast!
And as single ladies, going out to happy hour usually requires at least on hour of doing hair, make-up and figuring out what to wear. However, for our virtual happy hour, we were all in sweats, no makeup, hair up in buns. We let loose. Had fun. We felt more free to be ourselves. I would NEVER get up in a bar and lip sync ‘You Are Not Alone’ by Michael Jackson and dance around while doing so. My friends know I don’t dance, but there I was via Skype, singing and dancing like I was on ‘Lip Sync Battle’.
I think in our seclusion, we’ve realized that we don’t have to try impress others. We are all in it together even if from afar. We are reaching out to people to whom we haven’t spoken in years. We are actually calling each other, like dialing the number and hearing someone’s voice, having real conversations. We are making the most of our time together even it it’s together virtually. The true paradox is that in time of social distancing, we are actually developing stronger bonds.
This can also breed creativity. We’re finding ways to keep ourselves busy and entertained. Here are some ways to combat being alone when you live alone:
- Share how you’re feeling and what you are personally going through. Just because you’re alone in your home, it doesn’t mean you’re alone in the world.
- Offer to help others. It is so fulfilling. See if you can help an elderly neighbor with getting groceries or walking their dog.
- Volunteer virtually for your favorite charity or host a virtual fundraiser.
- Take an online course (psst Udemy is offering screaming discounts right now on courses).
- Check on people. See how they’re doing and if they need to talk.
- Set up a Facebook group and host group challenges, e.g. a 5-day home workout challenge; or a group where people share their favorite books, streaming series or movies.
As concerns about the virus continue to spread, and people are on lock down in their homes seemingly indefinitely, it’s important to maintain our sense of community, compassion and sanity, especially if you are living alone, and like that Michael Jackson song, you are not alone. We are all on this together. Please stay safe, healthy and sane. I’m here if you want or need to talk.