To say that I’ve been in a social rut since COVID began would be a complete understatement. I’m not even sure I can tell you the last time I had a night out without my kids. And I’m not even talking about a night out with just me and the wife. I’m talking about a night out with another couple. And I’m talking about a couple who we like and who likes us. Not the kind of couple where two women (or men) are great friends and their husbands have to just stare at each other the whole time and try to come up with shit to talk about. I’m talking about where it’s truly operating like a square. There are nice moments where sure, the men do their thing and the women do their thing but there’s inevitably 4-6 solid moments where the entire group is humming along as a unit. That’s exactly the kind of evening I had the other day. Just a simple dinner in a nice restaurant without the worry of COVID, wearing masks, or thinking something was out to get us. Zero pressure. A night both couples seemed to have looked forward to. Great conversation. Plenty of laughter. Solid eats. And that feeling at the end where you think to yourself, “we could definitely be solid friends with these people.” And to say that I needed that night out more than anything would be very long overdue.
Too much of anyone will piss you off
Hell I wrote an entire article about this already. COVID was the eventual catalyst that lead me to getting my own office. Being in my home office with the kids just outside in the kitchen for an entire year when they remotely learned eventually became unsustainable. While my wife and I made it all the way through intact, I cannot say it was without issue. She too was working from home and the entire thing just gnawed on us all. Tensions rose, arguments surfaced, and I simply was not in a good place. And as I’ve mentioned before, it was no one’s fault. I didn’t hate anyone. No one hated me. But when you only have a few people you are physically interacting with, they become your soundboard for every emotion possible. It’s inevitable you’re going to get pissed off at each other. So when things began dying down with COVID, I finally got my own office space and things really started to improve. Well…initially. From the standpoint of “now I can work in peace” things have been excellent but there was still something missing.
We were almost there but not quite
When Delta waned, the kids returned back to school and we were seeing family again, things definitely improved. But I also noticed something. Even in the midst of the improvement we still weren’t seeing friends enough. My wife and I weren’t doing things alone enough. We just weren’t paying enough attention to “living.” We were merely functioning. Each day was the same, Every. Single. Day. While the wife and I weren’t arguing or resenting each other as we did when all four of us were essentially home for over a year, something just felt off. I felt bored. My wife felt bored. The lack of travel, going out to dinner, just “switching it up” began to take its doll. I started getting depressed. Honestly, it just sucked. So one day I just decided, “screw it.” I needed to take this upon myself. The thing is, I have plenty of friends. There’s enough out there to last me the rest of my life. I have enough money to travel. There’s enough locations out there I haven’t been to that can last me the rest of my life. Everything’s there for the taking. I’m just not taking it. So I finally took the first step.
Just one dinner and how I felt afterwards
All it took was one dinner out with a nice couple and it’s like my brain completely switched. All of a sudden I felt an optimism I hadn’t felt in a long time. Instead of thinking the worst and that life would simply drudge on day after day, I began thinking “hmmm, maybe I can travel more” and “wait, we should be doing this once a month with ALL our friends.” I started to think, “hey it’s not too bad doing this office thing all day, but maybe I can pick up a hobby (which I have, I’m learning to draw).” I began to look at my wife differently and I think she began to look at me differently. We realized that “hey, oh yeah, we are these people we thought we were and there’s a reason we’re married and it’s not just solely to be parents and just doing our day to day.” It’s to be people, human, above anything else. And to be human means to interact with other humans. Too little of that and you’re going to fall into a rut. I don’t care who you are or how introverted you might be. If you’re not interacting with other humans (in person), things get pretty dark pretty fast.
It’s a very distinct pattern
As I look back at various periods in my life where I recall being in a “good place” most if not all involved times when I was around other people. Most involved times when I was “doing stuff.” The more active and social I was, the better a place I was in. Is this a coincidence? Absolutely not. I usually refer to college as being one of the best times of my life. Why? Aside from the new found freedom you have, it’s because college was where I had such an amazing community around me. There was always someone to talk to or hang out with. And there was always something to do. I never felt stagnant. I never let my mind get the best of me. But you know something? There’s absolutely no reason you can’t have that as an adult. Sure you might not be able to drink as many beers and stay out as long as you once could, but you can still “be involved.” You can still have a great community around you. It just takes more effort. It just takes more planning. But if you do all of it, it’s 100% worth it.