A few hours after my last post in this series back in May, L tested positive, as have many other friends and family members in the months since. As someone who still has yet to contract Covid, I may now be in the minority among the people I know. Nevertheless, between staying on top of my vaccine regimen and absorbing the zeitgeist, my day-to-day caution is almost back to pre-pandemic levels. I usually carry a mask with me, but apart from doctor visits and interstate travel, it’s rarely worn anymore. However, with “tripledemic” as the buzzword of this year’s approaching winter, I know better than to assume there’ll be continued smooth sailing ahead.
In the meantime, though, with relaxed caution comes increased socialization, and my post-pandemic [sic] interactions are routinely followed by a new neurosis, a persistent second-guessing of my conversation skills. Whether I’ve been with strangers or close friends, and whether or not my participation seems to have been appreciated, later reflection inevitably convinces me that my conversational contributions were long-winded, self-absorbed, boorish, and vacuous. It’s like a social imposter syndrome, and it makes me wish I had either stayed home or just kept my mouth shut, as if subjecting other people to myself were damaging to us both, tantamount to an addict relapsing. I’ve never been without insecurities, so this isn’t an entirely new thing, but it’s definitely more pronounced than it’s been before. Is it all in my head, or is my self-awareness acquiescing to a dismaying reality, or is it somewhere in between? Do the lingering effects of the world turning upside down play a part?
If I were still using Twitter, I’d probably ask if anyone else were experiencing this, but I’m not. While I’m not keen to replace Twitter, and I love my website, this is one of those moments when writing into the void feels pretty lonely. So hey, if you’re feeling a similar uptick in social anxiety and would like to share, please do.