‘Anxiety, social awkwardness and starting again’ by The Maydays, Rhiannon Vivien.
I’ve always had the capacity to be wildly anxious. But these past 12 months have really turned that dial-up to Whoops It’s Come off In My Hand. Probably for two reasons. One, the world feels like it’s gone to the dogs, and two, being cooped up inside has made me feel like I don’t really know how to do human interaction anymore. I mean even in the Before Times, I wouldn’t say I was an effortless raconteur with flattering chat. But I wasn’t bad (with the exception of reviewing most exchanges a hundred times afterwards in my own mental ‘wash-up’).
But it seems now, both my Olympic standard anxiety AND my social smarts have descended deep into the Bin of Life. Where only wrappers and corn husks live. And I am not too sure how to get down that far to retrieve and fix them without a winch. This metaphor. AmIright?
Just the other day I was walking to the dentist and a car slowly turned into the road I was trying to cross. That is all. A nice, slow turn that the DVLA would’ve loved. But it made me jump out of my skin. A millisecond of heart-stopping, skin shredding what-the-f**kness. For literally no reason. I mean you get that skin back on pretty quickly, but boy is it exhausting.
So unsurprisingly, I am slightly dreading the lifting of lockdown. Lemme hear you say, hey-o (Hermit the Clown tries to work the crowd). There are things I am supremely un-excited about experiencing when things become more normal, and here is a short list:
Party night sick splats on Saturday morning pavements, noise, any reason to have to commute, offices, crowded pubs, drunk people, the creeping fear people will die from partying too hard, Covid 2: Return of the Germ, busy tubes, pressure to do all the things, pressure to be everywhere, pressure.
And yet, the fact remains if we stay like this indefinitely, I think I’d dissolve (I refer you to paragraphs 1 and 2). I need walks and hugs with my family and friends, I need ‘good’ noise (laughter, excellent music, wood pigeons, applause), I need the magic of performing improv shows, I need harmonies, I need comedy, I need camaraderie, I need pre-show poos, I need quiet trains, I need fun trains with friends, I need nature, I need peace, I need an allotment, I need green, I need a cat called Quest (long time dream, don’t judge).
If I can get through the teething problems of ‘life back to normal’ I think this anxiety and recluse time has to be good for something. So at the moment, I (like tons of you I’m sure) am thinking this: what from the Before Time can I successfully jettison to have a better After Time? And what do I want to keep? I don’t have the answers yet. Perhaps my pros and cons here are a starting point. And I’m probably not going to overthink it either, despite loving a list and having a favourite Biro. I think the best way is to just let the dust settle and slowly pick up the things that feel good.
As I can’t think how to end this (or even if I’ve imparted any particularly enlightened life advice), I will leave you with a truly, truly diabolical ‘joke’ that I made up the other night:
What kitchen utensil does a unicorn use? A spoonicorn.*
Ps – if anyone has any tips for post-jail social awkwardness send them my way in the comments below. That, or we can all admit we’re in the same boat, and see what solid gold verbal rubble we can spout at each other when the time comes. Maybe that would be more fun.
*My husband’s guess was a uni-tensil. Don’t worry about us. We’Re F i N e …?? ?