How to Deal with Social Isolation
May 13, 2020
Maryam Masood

This year, the end of the winter semester was relatively anti-climactic. There were no in-person goodbyes, no hastily packing nine months of accumulated junk in a couple of hours, no last-minute plans with friends, no car (or plane) ride home. There was nothing that resembled what I typically associate with the end of the school year, except for the relief I felt turning in my last exam. 

I say this all with tremendous gratitude that I am healthy and safe, and as a sophomore who did not have to miss out on their graduation on top of other unexpected changes to the school year.

Point being, although many students have transitioned into a new chapter of the year, our post-COVID-19 lives have remained largely the same. For one, based on what I’ve gathered from family and friends, a communal feeling of disconnectedness has continued, especially as we enter another month of social distancing in Michigan and in many areas around the world.

As an introvert who thrives on minimal social interaction, I didn’t think this would become a problem for me. But when classes ended, I – like others – found myself with more time to think than I’d prefer and began feeling the effects of social isolation.

I think a big part of it isn’t just that I’m not able to see my friends and relatives, but that I don’t even have the option (per current social distancing guidelines). I could happily go a week or two without leaving my apartment at U-M, but this would be pretty impossible given the nature of a college student’s schedule. At home, I don’t have friends or events to nudge me out of hermit mode. It’s up to me to replicate the social interactions that were a natural part of university life.

To be frank, I’ve done a pretty lousy job of it. At first, I put off reaching out to others because I was so caught up in wrapping up the semester. But once I turned in my last paper, I didn’t really have a good reason to not catch up with friends and relatives.

I wasn’t sure how to start other than just reaching out to people who I hadn’t talked to in a while. And once I did, I realized a lot of the feelings I was having – wanting to connect but not being sure about when or how, bored of the monotony of quarantine – were mutual. I also discovered one positive aspect of the situation: a lot of the awkwardness that accompanies reaching out to someone who you may have not seen in months or years seemed to dissolve. We are all experiencing (to various degrees) the effects of COVID-19.

If you’ve been needing a nudge to reach out to friends and relatives, consider this it. Wolverines are better together.

Maryam Masood

Maryam Masood is an sophomore in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts with plans to major Economics with a minor in Spanish, although her plans are always changing! During the year, she keeps busy as a student employee for CommonGround and Treasurer for the Michigan Refugee Assistance Program. Outside of class and work, she enjoys travel, ice hockey, and is most likely watching Kim's Convenience or Criminal Minds on Netflix.