Who knew I would miss the simple smile of a stranger walking by me at the grocery store. The wrinkle on the side of their lips reassuring me with happiness. Who knew I would miss that snarky side-eye by a random person judging me as I walked past them at the mall. Who knew I would miss those little kids who would stick their tongues out at me and giggle. Who knew I would grow so fond of a stranger’s “hello” and “have a good day” … I didn’t.
I wish I knew how much human interaction and connection meant before it was all taken away. Something so simple yet so necessary. There was nothing complex about a hug from a friend, a grin from a stranger, a compliment from a familiar face. Pure happiness was what I felt when someone held the door for me or simply asked me, “How are you?”
When these innocent yet significant interactions were taken away from me – wait, humankind – I saw the ripple effects in our society. There was distance, fear, and panic. There was loneliness and pain. Our community ached like never before. The entire world was told to keep a distance from the people they needed most.
I wish I knew how much human interaction and connection meant before it was all taken away.
We had no choice. It needed to be done. Wear that mask and stay six feet apart. I had to, for the safety of my family, friends and my community. I did it all, but it didn’t stop my craving for human connection. I mean real authentic interactions, not a digital screen that slowly burned my eyes. It felt as though my laptop wasn’t the only thing being drained of battery. My Zoom and FaceTime calls were drinking up my social battery. I hated it.
Supposedly, a human needs four hugs a day as the bare minimum for survival, eight hugs a day to nurture oneself and 12 hugs a day for self-growth. I was shocked. It had been over a year of six-feet-apart and little to no hugs. I thought the hug thing was a joke, but it wasn’t. I felt deprived of human touch. I could sense a part of me shrivelling up inside, barely surviving.
I know now. I get it. We are meant for social interaction and community. It took all these restrictions for me to realize how vital it is for our society to be there for each other. It may be silly at first, but share your lovely smile with a stranger. Compliment that person on the street with cool style. Hug your friends and family. You never know how much they’ll miss it when it’s taken away. Who knew? I certainly didn’t.
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Thanks for sharing your experiences from the pandemic, and your insights about what we have lost and need to regain once we open again. Young people are experiencing it at a different level.