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Pandemic Pod Panic: Is Your Social Life Causing Angst?

Have you spent more time worrying about your–and your child’s–social life since the pandemic hit? If so, you could be suffering from Pandemic Pod Panic, aka “P3” (I just made this up). I read this interesting piece in the Boston Globe that detailed how many of us have been gripping about how we and our families are left out of social activities during this time of social distancing and isolation. Is this you? I have been guilty of it, I must admit.

First off, let me define a Pandemic Pod, for those of you not in-the-know. It’s essentially a small cohort of families who have stayed together and played together throughout the pandemic. The Pod subscribes to the same level of concern about COVID and, for the most part, interacts socially with an equal level of discretion and safety. Some pods may have more stringent policies when it comes to traveling by airplane, riding the school bus, or dining indoors. Others may be a little less rigid and feel those activities are okay. Typically, what one pod member believes, so does the other. This is why there is not much cross-pollination of pods! And there can be apparent judgment of pods that do not think–and most importantly ACT-alike. This is sounding like a cult..

Let me be clear: I am not judging anyone here. And no one’s beliefs are wrong. Unless they are not mine. Wait, joking! No, I mean, be safe, people. Obviously.

Anyway, back to the topic at-hand: Pandemic Pod Panic. I have noticed that I don’t see or talk to some of the friends that I used to since last March, the onset of COVID. This has caused me to wonder if it’s because of something I’ve done, or how I choose to live during Covid, or if it’s just something about them wanting to isolate. Some of it, too, is because we don’t run into each other at soccer, for example, or during school activities.

I don’t really know. I think we can only assume that it’s that, but who knows!? This reminds me of my recent blog post, Too Many Friends = Too Much Drama, and the feeling of being back in high school. And then, when you find out that friend you don’t see or talk to is actually hanging in her own pod? Then you panic: is it me? Why am I not in that pod? Are we no longer friends?

COVID is killing more than our spirits–it’s killing friendships! (insert scary music)…

Um, that’s a little drastic.

Now, aside from myself, I sometimes wonder about my kids. My son, for example, isn’t as social as my daughter. He basically has lived like a sand mole in the basement and on video games for a year now. Well, that’s not entirely in isolation, though, because he’s on a headset laughing his head off with friends. I’ve wondered if he should go outside and play with our neighbors, but he really has no interest, and I get concerned. Like, is he antisocial? Is he going to have friends when this is all over? We can’t really invite people over who he hasn’t seen or been “podding” with, and hence the P3 begins (Pandemic Pod Panic)

I have been fortunate to have a nice group of friends in my neighborhood, and we have been kind of like our own Pandemic Pod. Our children are the same ages and have played since the pandemic hit. Similarly, we adults have met around the firepit and had some wine and been able to socialize while social distancing. But I have heard others lament that they don’t have those opportunities and feel left out. This sense of isolation is magnified when they see it posted on social media–revelry around a firepit with friends. In the Boston Globe piece, they recommended not posting those types of photos to social media so others don’t feel left out.

Wait. But I only post so others feel less-than, right???? (Insert Mean Girls voice). Just joking.

Anyway, what are your thoughts and experiences with this? Have you felt left out, or judged, or worried about social nonsense during the pandemic? Maybe we are just bored! Perhaps this is self-manufactured stress.

🤦🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️🥴🥴

#relationships, Self-Help, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Too Many Friends = Too Much Drama

Have you ever noticed that the smaller your world becomes, the easier it is to manage emotionally? I feel that way these days, as I go to work and home, home and work, with very little in between. I see my children, my boyfriend, maybe a couple of friends here or there, and that’s it. I keep it tight. I have, as my sister used to say, “Circled the wagons.”

She told me that circling the wagons was the the best methodology to avoid drama. The more people you interact with, and have in your direct sphere, the more chances there are for drama. While I thought that seemed sort of grim and isolating at the time, I now realize she had a point. It’s a self-preservation thing.

I think back, for example, to when I was the most social I’ve ever been as a parent (we can’t go all the way back…even though, obvi, I wish I could and stay there #ihearthighschool). So it was when I had my first child, and he was 2. I was so busy out and about with girlfriends, meeting at the playground with moms, going to “Mommy and Me” at the library, and chatting for hours on the phone. I remember I even had to get a new data plan on my cell phone, because I was on it too much. Now, I sort of hate talking on the phone, unless it’s Facetime over wine. 🙂

Anyway, at that time, there were all these fights and paranoia and, “Don’t say anything but…,” or, “No offense, but…,” and “Oh, you weren’t invited?” etc.

It drove me INSANE.

Like, I was 40-years-old and legit cried to my partner about a girl fight! I was 40–and in eighth grade! I was so crazed, in fact, about this one fight, that I literally lost my geographical bearings and drove straight over the Bourne Bridge off of Cape Cod, where I live, headed towards Boston. I was, in short, deranged.

Um…now, circling back to my point of circling the wagons (double circle here), I never feel that anxiety anymore with my friends. I never feel that, “Oh my God, is she mad at me,” or that “Wait, what did I not get invited to” feeling. Ya’ know why? ‘Cause I do nothing! Yeah, that’s right. Naturally, the pandemic has something to do with it. But, even before that, I have found that keeping my social interactions to a minimum has made me feel more at peace. This seems counterintuitive, as I am super social and gregarious and I’m not good at being alone. But, keeping it tight and small, that’s the way to go…for me.

That’s the one issue I have with social media. It’s like the tight circle is inevitably larger, because you are seeing what everyone else is doing, which you are not a part of. Suddenly, your small circle is now 800-people wide (well, except the algorithms make is so I see the same 10 people). Sometimes, I’ll see two people I know socializing, and I’ll feel this sense of FOMO, like I’m missing out.

But, then, I get over it.

And I feel okay and am grateful for the peace.

It’s kind of too bad it is that way, but, I mean, for me it was. How about you?

Uncategorized

Be a Good Friend–To Yourself

Today, I almost sat on a wolf spider that camouflaged into my couch. It was grey, and my couch is grey. I put him in a glass, covered with a piece of paper, and took him outside. He hopped away.

IMG_2727
Wolf Spider.

Then, I went to get water, and there was a spider that was next to my water bubbler. He was eating some sort of moth he caught, probably from when I had the screen door open last night. I thought to move him, and then I thought, “No, maybe I will keep him, or her, as he’s enjoying his time here, and he’s keeping the insects at bay.”

You may be wondering why I don’t just get an exterminator!

IMG_2721
Here is the one next to my bubbler

But, I have realized, that I kind of love spiders. I used to be grossed out about them. I was freaked out and would vacuum them up, or squish them. Now, I realize most of them won’t do any harm, and they’re sort of sad and victims, because they can’t see well.

I sort of feel like a spider today, and that I can’t see well.

I can’t see myself. 

Sometimes, I can’t see my own self-worth. I talk down to myself, am punitive, and I wish I was different. I look at other women and think, “Wow, I should be more like her. I would look so much better if I just had that Dolce and Gabbana belt or the blown out hair with spiral curls.” Or I think, “If I was just ten pounds skinnier, and I had some Botox.” Or, “I wish I made more money” or “I wish I had a boat.”

These are things I can’t fix. Well, at least not today. What I can fix is my relationship with myself.  

Then I think about all the amazing  gifts I have, and the people in my life, and how I can’t believe I talk to myself this way!  I think how we must be kind to ourselves, as we are our own best friends.

Our internal voice is the one we hear the most. I read this blog post today by Dr. Eric Perry, and it resonated- not only with me, but with many others.

Be gentle with yourself, at least for today. xx

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