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If you’re like me, you are grasping for any sense of “normalcy,” while trying to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Without relevant past experience to guide us, we are making this up as we go. As I try to keep up with the changing rules and latest news, I find myself questioning my comfort level with venturing into the world beyond my house – sometimes on a daily basis.
This is hard! As an extrovert and recovering control freak, I sometimes don’t know what to do with myself. The dinner table gets quieter on the days when my energy is low or I’ve run out of questions to ask.
“What did you do today?” doesn’t go very far when your household is within 10 feet of one another all day. “Hey, here’s something funny Robert said at work today…” I start to tell my husband. He interrupts, “Yeah, I could hear you on Zoom.”
After 10 weeks of total lock down, and as things started opening up, I decided I really needed to see others, in some safe, 3D capacity. But for the first time in my adult life, I didn’t know how to socialize. The topic seemed slightly taboo, potentially awkward and, sadly, possibly mixed with judgment.
So, like a good consultant, I scheduled brainstorming time with my smart co-workers and thus the “My Social Comfort Scale” was born. With some quick market testing of additional co-workers and friends, we found success: a simple tool to help start a conversation about socializing during a pandemic.
I have friends and colleagues at various points on this scale. It doesn’t matter why they are where they are – we shouldn’t have to explain ourselves. What matters is that we are able to have a conversation and navigate this difficult time together. I don’t want to damage friendships or professional relationships because of miscommunication. So, I realize I can’t assume everyone has the same comfort level as me. By sharing the scale, I’m able to gain insight into what I should suggest for “getting together” – a coffee meet up over Zoom or a socially distanced, outdoor version.
Most people both want and need socialization, so the term “social distance” is truly a misnomer. I look forward to the day that I don’t have to have this conversation and I can go back to the “hugger” I am. I’d even take one of those awkward was-going-to-shake-hands-but-you-went-for-a hug moments. Until then, what I want is social interaction with physical distance. A month ago, I was a 1. Today, I’m a 3. Tomorrow, I may be a 2. What are you?