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Disclaimer: We all still need to follow the new guidelines and listen to our health officials. We’re finally over the hump of the pandemic, let's not ruin it by being reckless :)

As warmer weather quickly approaches and the COVID cases slowly dwindle to smaller digits, many of us are excited to make plans for this renewed version of the ‘roaring twenties.’ I felt the same excitement as I signed up for my first vaccination appointment and this excitement held, right until I went to my first small get together with some close friends. Although my COVID anxiety is not as prevalent as it was before, I’ve found a new bump in the road. This seemingly invisible problem is my extremely shortened social battery. 

[bf_image id="85qvwbsfjqjq9ccjs6vv86r5"] All throughout my life prior to the pandemic, I’ve been considered an extrovert in just about every situation. I used to love going out and meeting new people. Now however, I can barely interact in a group of five close friends for more than a few hours without feeling completely drained. I was so aggravated with myself because the thought of finally getting to hang out with my friends was the only reason that got me through the pandemic in the first place. We’re                     getting to the point where we are finally able to do fun things again and now my brain can barely handle that. If you’re feeling this way too, I promise you’re not alone. Almost every person I’ve talked to about this (at least the ones that actually followed guidelines) feel the exact same way.

[bf_image id="8wb7bb4v2pq3nmrtxkhv4kh6"] Although it’s comforting to know that I’m not just crazy, it still does not minimize my problem of having the social battery of an IPhone 3. I still have no idea how to retrain my social battery or if it will ever go back to normal, which is pretty terrifying at a first glance. I will say, however, that I’ve found ways to recharge my battery faster and how to avoid social burnout. The most important aspect I have found is not to overbook yourself right now. Yes, we all want to go out and experience some of the things that we’ve been missing out on for over a year now, but there’s no reason it can’t be done in moderation. Movie nights and self care nights are more important than ever! It’s pretty hard to enjoy nights out once your social battery hits zero, and by not guilting yourself into social events that you may just not be ready for yet, you are giving yourself the space needed to fully recharge or even reinstall your social battery.

[bf_image id="68k8nx65mg3sjs6qmh9q96k7"] I like to think of my social battery as like a new pair of shoes. Of course, I want to wear them out and show them off, but wearing them too often and in sometimes unfit places, I could ruin them before I even got the chance to really use them. The same goes for your social battery. As much as I may want to, letting it run close to 0% too often makes it a lot harder to recharge and can exhaust me to the point where I end up cancelling on plans I really wanted to be a part of. Although I’m sure that all of us have had hundreds of nights in, taking another one just to relax isn’t hurting anyone either. I found this to be true especially because these new nights in are actually relaxing. I’m no longer staying in because I have to, but because I want to. Maybe I’m just a control freak, but this new sense of control allows me to actually focus on myself to recharge, rather than to worry about the world around me. 

[bf_image id="nhqmcrht57sw7j3bc4k7jvg5"] As thrilling as the next couple months may be, make sure to check in with yourself and to be patient with yourself and what you may be able to handle. None of us are the same person we were a year ago. We had to adapt and make sudden changes to every corner of our lives. It’s going to take time to adjust once again to our new normal and there’s nothing wrong with that. Enjoy as much as you can this summer, whether it’s finally reconnecting with your friends or getting to that book you’ve been wanting to read for awhile. Either way, listen well to what your mind is telling you and let that be your guide for the next few months. Your mind got you through an entire pandemic, they can probably get you through a few get-togethers as well. 

Claire Batten

Wisconsin '23

A sophomore at UW-Madison double majoring in community & non-profit leadership and economics.
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