I think most people would agree that when you go through two years of graduate school in social work and work as a social worker for a number of years, you change. As a social worker, you get an inside look at people’s lives to see their challenges in an attempt to craft a plan to help them address those challenges. After I became a social worker I was definitely less judgmental and more accepting of other beliefs and opinions. My husband, who has always worked in corporate America, frequently tells me that he is not sure why people are drawn to me and frequently seek me out to discuss life issues. I think it’s because (very much to his chagrin), I have no problem sharing my struggles. As a result, somehow others sense I am not judging them and that I genuinely care. In addition, both the school of social work and law school taught me to maintain confidentiality. Years ago (when we were all younger and less mature), a friend called me (after learning that a couple in our circle was divorcing) and said upon learning that I knew, “Why didn’t you tell me?” I thought that was odd. The devastation of a family wasn’t happy news and wasn’t something I would ever readily share. (Sometimes my blogs may seem like I’m rambling, but since no one will pay for my memoir, I’m going to share my story and beliefs here. Bear with me, I will get to the point.)
Since I was young I have always kept to myself, introvert that I am. When I got my first apartment I would sometimes get a hotel room just to have time to myself. (Mind you this was when I really had no money to spare.) My roommate would question me about this oddity relentlessly. No, no one else would be there; No, I wasn’t angry with her. Yes, I just needed space and my bedroom wasn’t enough.
My husband is completely different. I often tell close friends that he will go to a barn raising if someone invited him. When we are invited to gatherings, he is all over it; can't wait to see friends. He happily speaks to everyone. All the time. My walking partner Faye does the same thing. When we walk she speaks to everybody she sees. Faye doesn’t’ care if fifty people are out walking (before COVID-19 of course), she will cheerfully speak to all fifty. I, on the other hand, fiercely protect my space and quiet time. I think it’s partly because I used to interact so much publicly in my profession. Through the years I have done a lot of public speaking and often facilitated trainings and meetings which required that I be alert and engaged for much of my work day. I once had a colleague tell me she would kill to have my job and get to attend receptions and dinner meetings. Once during my evaluation I was told that I would be expected to attend more conferences and social gatherings. I relish my quiet time.
At least I did before COVID-19. Before the virus crisis, generally I wouldn’t even make eye contact or seek to interact with strangers in public places. This social distancing protocol has me shook. I hardly recognize myself. I am so starved for interaction that when I go for walks or (on the rare occasions) visit the grocery store I am making an utter and complete fool of myself! I am practically singing hello to every soul I see. I make eye contact (don’t know if they can tell with my mask on!) and wave frantically like my car just broke down on the highway! I yell to my neighbors when I so much as catch the slightest glimpse of them: Hello! Good to see ya’! How you doing?! Take care! Stay Safe!! Who is this person now housed in my body?! I don’t know how long this will last. However, for now, I’ll keep singing and waving.