A friend of mine has been saying for months now that she believes she was “built for isolation.” Her tongue-in-cheek comments were often met with laughter from our little group, which has been communicating exclusively via group text since the whole COVID-19 thing started. It had never occurred to me to correct her, to share with her what I knew of human psychology, sociology and all the other “ologies” I’ve studied either formally or informally. I gave absolutely no thought to telling her at any time, that she was wrong. That none of us are “built for isolation.”
Today it hit her. Now I’ve always been a huge fan of self-realisation and insight. I love it when people discover things all on their own and don’t need to be told. For all the knowledge that I have rattling around inside my brain, I actually loathe telling people what to do or giving them advice. But I digress.. yeah, you regular readers here know I do that…
So today it hit her. Today was the day she made the declaration that she is not actually built for isolation. She spoke at length of the things she misses most, having never realised before, just how social this stuff was. She’d always felt like something of a loner. Single, mid-thirties, not close to anyone at work, with few dear friends, of which I am privileged to be one. She had always been content in her own company. Reading, watching television, playing with her beloved pet dog.
But she also loved going to the football. Doing yoga. Visiting friends. And these are things she’s not been able to do since the pandemic hit. Things she had been teaching herself to live without, but always holding onto the hope that one day, she’d be able to do them again. Her story and her feelings are shared by countless people. We’ve all given up things we adore in the name of following the rules and doing our part to help stop the spread of the virus. To stay safe and stay alive.
I guarantee you that you either know someone or have seen someone on social media making the comment or joke that they are perfect for isolation. People do often use humour to cope with stressful situations. But here’s the thing. Human beings are not supposed to be isolated. We are incredibly social creatures, constantly seeking connections, companionship, and communication. Social media has boomed since we’ve all been staying inside. Because we are not supposed to be alone. So we are all endlessly searching for some way of feeling like we are part of something, like there are others we can share ourselves with to find that common ground and delicious in-group feeling.
So, next time you hear someone saying they are built for isolation, look closer. Remember that all of us need other humans in order to survive and thrive. There are no exceptions to this, despite what some would have you believe. Reach out, communicate, and don’t shut yourself off from others. The only way we as a species are going to get through this crisis, is together.