Tips on Reentering the World
This week, I am going to a party. I do not know if it will be a good party or a bad party, and, if I’m being honest, it does not particularly matter. It’s really less a party than Starter Social Event, a slight tiptoe back into the world as we once knew it, way back when, way back Before.
Do you remember the last party you went to? I am not sure myself. It was probably a 2019 holiday party, and I was probably dreading it. Another holiday party? Why, I’m so busy! Who has time for all these parties? There were so many people to see, and to talk to, and be awkward around, and cover the same topics: Kids, politics, sports, how’s your mother, good to see you, hey, what was that guy’s name again? We complained about having to go to parties until suddenly, dramatically, we stopped.
We’re all about to come back, though. This summer, in the United States at least, promises to be the re-emergence, millions of vaccinated Americans (and also some non-vaccinated, unfortunately) heading back out into polite society. All the stuff you haven’t been able to do for more than a year? You’re going to be able to do almost all of it this summer. You are about to see other humans again.
It’s going to be weird at first. You’re going to be bad at it. I’m going to be bad at this too, but I’ve been thinking about this for, oh, 14 months or so, and I tried to draw up my own playbook. So, don’t fret: I’m here to help. Here are seven tips to remember as you head to your first public events since Covid-19 became a daily part of everyone’s lives. I hope this helps.
Shake hands, and hug. First thing. This list will be going under the assumption that everyone at your parties are vaccinated, or, at the very least, you are. I can’t tell you what you are or are not comfortable with; if you don’t feel like you are ready to go to a party yet, then I certainly am not going to push you. But if you are comfortable with going a party, and feel informed enough on the vaccination status and safety of the people around you at this party, then you really need to go full-bore. You’re not going to have a very good time if you’re paranoid everything you do is going to give you Covid-19. So the best way to show, to yourself and others, that you are ready to be around humans again is to act like it. Shake hands with people when you see them. Hug your friends. You’re at a party. If you are too nervous about being a vaccinated person hugging another vaccinated, I would argue you are not ready to be at a party and should probably stay home. But once you’re there? Hug. Shake hands. Nuzzle. That’s why you came. That’s what you’ve missed. And it’s a great way to break the ice for people who are having the same awkwardness and nervous thoughts as you. I bet they hug you back even harder than you hugged them.
Don’t worry about talking too quickly and too loudly. Everyone’s going to be doing that. You haven’t talked to people face-to-face in more than a year. It’s perfectly reasonable that you’re going to be lousy at it at first. You just have so much to say. Accept that you’re going to fall over your words, and tell stories that don’t go anywhere, and lose your train of thought. It’s been a while! The rest of the party is having the same issue. You’ll get there.
Don’t force an activity. You don’t need your first outing to be a Game Night, or a Book Club meeting. (Though if you need a book for your Book Club, I have a suggestion.) Don’t waste time on distractions: You’ll have plenty of time for all that next year, when everyone is bored of each other again. Just get into a room with people and start talking. That’s activity enough right now, isn’t it?
Be aware that everyone has changed a little bit in the last yearincluding you. This pandemic has done a number on all of us, and we’re all different than we were, in our own ways, than we were when this all started. Keep this in mind if someone says something that strikes you as very out of character … or if you do.
Remember you don’t have to be perfect. Just because it’s your first outing in 14 months doesn’t mean it’s some sort of eternal judge of what’s in your soul. This is new for everybody in that room. Just relax as best you can: You just gotta get this first one out of the way. There will be another party, and soon. Just because it’s the first one doesn’t mean it’s the last one ever.
Make more plans. Parties beget parties. Seeing big groups of people allow you later to see smaller groups of people. The social web can be reconstructed. This is how this works.
Appreciate every second. As the next few weeks and months move forward, we will slowly return to some semblance of “normal,” we will, inevitably, lose this sense of discovery, this legitimate excitement to be out in the world again. We will cancel social plans, we will stay home to watch Netflix, we will cocoon again. This feeling of re-emergence, the euphoria of it, it will only happen once. So soak it all in. This is what you spent the last 14 months doing the right thing for. You’ve miss this, them, all of it. Drink up every second of it, in big huge gulps. You’ve earned it. We all have.
Will Leitch writes multiple pieces a week for Medium. Make sure to follow him right here. He lives in Athens, Georgia, with his family and is the author of five books, including the upcoming novel How Lucky, released by Harper on May 11. He also writes a free weekly newsletter that you might enjoy.