A Different Distant

Social Distancing is not a foreign notion to students who have long struggled with social anxiety. But the quarantine has provided new insight.


courtesy of Unique Mindcare

Social anxiety can warp young people's minds into doubting their own true friends.

Katie Golden, Co-Editor-In-Chief

I wasn’t disappointed about missing Prom. In fact, I had zero plans and still hadn’t bought a dress by the time school closed and we went into quarantine. I’ve gone to a grand total of two dances in high school, and I’m content with that. I have always felt self conscious and uncomfortable at dances, so missing one wasn’t a big deal to me. 

I also don’t mind not having a real graduation. Personally, I don’t really understand why it’s that important. My mom says that it’s to celebrate our achievements and the transition to a new stage of life. I think that it’s strange to segment life into different stages when change is gradual and you’re still that same person. I also think that there’s no real way to commemorate four whole years and experiences of over 600 people in a single event. 

My only problem with quarantine is, to a certain degree, my own fault. You see, in the years before coronavirus, I had already been doing a great deal of social distancing simply because of anxiety. 

I’ll simplify it and just say that sometimes I think that all of my friends secretly hate me. I know that everyone deals with this once in a while, but this is always unprompted and completely out of the blue. 

One of the most clear examples in my life occurred after spending the night at my best friend’s house. This is my best friend of six years I’m talking about. We’ve never even had a real argument. That morning, everything was good; her mom made pancakes for breakfast, we watched a movie, and then I went home. When I got home, the only things I could think were “what if she actually hates me and only hangs out with me because she’s a good person and she feels obligated to?” and “she probably thinks I’m annoying, so I should just leave her alone.”

Later, a good friend of mine invited me on a family vacation, but I declined because I was afraid that we weren’t close enough for that. 

I was sort of on the edge of a friend group for a long time and it’s partially my fault because I was too nervous to make a real effort. Whenever plans were made, I always had to speak up and ask if I could come. I could only do this a couple times because I worried that they would find me annoying or think that I was being too pushy and inviting myself somewhere I wasn’t welcome. 

I even hated summer because I never saw my friends and we seemed to drift apart over those months. The only person I really saw and stayed in contact with was my aforementioned best friend. 

I didn’t even realize how bad it was until winter break this year. 

When I got home, the only thing I could think was ‘What if she actually hates me and only hangs out with me because she’s a good person and she feels obligated to?’”

I have this app that tracks what I’m doing. No, it’s not Life360. This is entirely voluntary because I’m a statistics kind of person and I was just curious how much time I spent doing certain activities. 

It’s called Life Cycle and, according to this app, I spent 98 hours with my friends in 2019. Compare that to this year where I have, to date, already spent 112 hours with my friends. 

This is why quarantine hit me so hard. I had finally gotten through this rough patch. I had started going to therapy and working through my problems instead of just ignoring how I felt. I have friends I know I can count on. And while I still get those anxious thoughts, they happen a lot less frequently and I’m able to logic my way through them. Basically, I felt better. 

Then came coronavirus and it seemed like all the progress I had made was slipping through my fingers. I lost all my motivation and it became increasingly hard for me to do even basic work like filling in a Google Form. And just when I finally learned how to deal with my social anxiety, it became impossible for me to see my friends. 

Nevertheless, I was determined to stay in touch, even at a great distance, and in recent months my friends and I have formed plans for the summer. I wish I could say that all of my anxious thoughts have gone away like magic, but now I know that I’m able to work through them. 

But quarantine taught me that it’s important to live in the moment. There’s no time to waste waiting for things to get better — you have to do that yourself.