#SWAAYthenarrative

How I tackled Isolation and Loneliness in a Time of Social Distancing

4min read
Lifestyle

Amidst a time of global turmoil, I had finally acknowledged the turbulence in my own life and confronted the truth about my own feelings on what I had been feeling for a long time now. I was down and lonely and needed change. The solution I found demanded creativity on my part and a little flexibility in approach, but I wasn't alone in doing this.


For me, using online dating for socializing was the key that myself and others desperately needed to overcome the feeling of loneliness that the isolation of the lockdown brought out.

When I looked into studies about how online dating could be helpful in tackling loneliness in uncertain times for people who were already feeling it, I found a range of answers. In the end, the bottom line was that there was potential to help, but at some risk. However, for someone who was vulnerable, the risk felt worth it.

In the end, for me, it was.

What for me were once lonely nights at home struggling with boredom, exhaustion, and mixed dating matches have now become nights where I chat with people who are in a similar situations as myself. Without realizing it, others and myself who were using online dating platforms realized that these just happened to be some of the best ways to meet new people for socializing and to make friends.

Shortly after New Year's Eve, before the Corona virus had fully been swept into the topic of everyday conversation and thought, I had been working in an editorial office. My day-to-day routine was as cyclical to me as sunrise to sunset and I had become numb to anything beyond it.

Single but hooked on a few dating apps, I would wake up alone in my apartment, shower, get dressed for work, and then grab something to eat on my way to the office. From 9-5 I would be doing my thing. Finished with work, I would go home, grab something for dinner and then make that before crashing on my sofa for some solo Netflix and chill.

Sleep, wake-up, rinse, repeat.

Weekends were marginally better if I had anything to do. I often didn't. Friends would stop by as if my tiny apartment was some sort of pop-up store with vaguely interesting knick-knacks not quite interesting enough to buy. Online dating was spontaneous but infrequent. I'd make the rounds on occasion to meet friends, but these kinds of trips seemed to naturally space themselves further apart throughout the year for me.

January had rolled into February and the news was slowly starting to make the rounds that there was an outbreak of some virus that few knew much about. At the time it seemed minor and people's reaction to it a tad overblown.

However, by March things had begun to heat up, and by the middle of the month bars were closing and offices were switching to having its workers do their 9-5 from their own impromptu home offices.

There was something strangely exhilarating about the experience, despite the pandemonium that seemed to be hitting people as they in their quiet panic bought out supermarkets. I, like people all over the world, was acclimating to my own living space being used for something other than simply living in. I wanted to embrace the experience as an opportunity to enjoy some flexibility with my work.

The reality of living in this kind of situation struck home quickly. What little social contact I had kept up prior to the outbreak had dwindled to nothing. I stopped looking for dates altogether. My own self-practiced, subconscious social distancing that I had been slowly ramping up over the past few months hit home as the world around me pushed for an isolation I had already been on track for.

I went from becoming out of touch to completely being a ghost.

Technology is great when it comes to communicating and maintaining these kinds of relationships. But as someone who had unwittingly been socially distant for some time now, it was apparent that I had not kept up with the necessary maintenance relationships, online and in-person, need.

My own situation became something else entirely, looming over me as if this enormous veil I had thrown over my lonely, boring life had been torn away. Now it was plain as day and I was confronting it whether I wanted to or not. I was, and realized that I had been for some time, isolated. I wasn't happy with where I was as a person and felt like my routine had become so large that it was more my identity than I was.

It was a mask to my own exhaustion, boredom, and solitude.

Perhaps it was the threat of COVID-19 that forced me to take a look at my life. Maybe it was being stuck in my small apartment, cooped up with my little bed, tiny kitchen, teensy desk, and a mirror that was growing by the hour.

Whether I had isolated myself bit-by-bit or if my friends had moved on to other, more interesting things I don't know. I was feeling down and was wallowing in the kind of loneliness that had been ever-present but conveniently hidden by my old routine and half-hearted attempts at online dating and socializing.

After weeks of this, I began to take initiative. What triggered my new approach wasn't anything more special than a friend doing her own rounds of catching up. I began to talk with her and we realized that we had completely abandoned some of our older online socializing along with the usual in person meet ups.

That was when it hit me: rather than getting eaten up by how tricky dating and socializing had become, why not use these online dating services to just make friends and have some positive emotional entertainment, maybe even make a friend or two along the way? Sure I have downloaded Bumble, Tinder and Hinge in the past, per the popular hype that millennials give these apps but in my case it didn't feel like any of them offered the substance in conversations I was looking for. It seems as though many people on the app were looking to fill a void they didn't know they had. So I decided to look into other less "hyped up" options that may feel more authentic.

Working with my friend, she and I found a collection of online dating sites at Datingroo that gave us options to work with and opened us up to a world of people in the same boat as we were who had come to the same conclusion. The experts at Datingroo laid out ways to improve our odds with meeting people, as well as what to watch out for when signing up. In a time of great change the world over, we were making a change in our own lives that felt somehow greater.

For myself, I wanted to be happy, and I was going to be happy on my terms.

We are now over two months into an age of social distancing and its tempestuous beginning has led me to calmer waters. I have found a way to engage with others that people all around the world are latching on to: online dating apps. I honestly feel that now more than ever has led me to using these as a way to get a lot of emotional entertainment and to stay positive. Just chatting with people about this has done wonders.

I learned that online dating is more than trying to find a date for many people, myself included. For the past few weeks, I have made almost a dozen friends with people who matched with me, sharing my interests. I'm happy chatting with people who are just as starved for human connection (as opposed to quick hook ups) as I was.

Slowly but surely, we're all coming to terms with who we really are as we are forced to isolate ourselves and remain socially distant. However, as we begin to connect with more and more people, be it for actual dating or simply just meeting new friends and communities, we are also slowly helping each other and ourselves through these difficult times.

How to Learn Much More From the Books You Read

It is one thing to read and another thing to understand what you are reading. Not only do you want to understand, but also remember what you've read. Otherwise, we can safely say that if we're not gaining anything from what we read, then it's a big waste of time.

Whatever you read, there are ways to do so in a more effective manner to help you understand better. Whether you are reading by choice, for an upcoming test, or work-related material, here are a few ways to help you improve your reading skills and retain that information.

Read with a Purpose

Never has there been a shortage of great books. So, someone recommended a great cookbook for you. You start going through it, but your mind is wandering. This doesn't mean the cookbook was an awful recommendation, but it does mean it doesn't suit nor fulfill your current needs or curiosity.

Maybe your purpose is more about launching a business. Maybe you're a busy mom and can't keep office hours, but there's something you can do from home to help bring in more money, so you want information about that. At that point, you won't benefit from a cookbook, but you could gain a lot of insight and find details here on how-to books about working from home. During this unprecedented year, millions have had to make the transition to work from home, and millions more are deciding to do that. Either way, it's not a transition that comes automatically or easily, but reading about it will inform you about what working from home entails.

Pre-Read

When you pre-read it primes your brain when it's time to go over the full text. We pre-read by going over the subheadings, for instance, the table of contents, and skimming through some pages. This is especially useful when you have formal types of academic books. Pre-reading is a sort of warm-up exercise for your brain. It prepares your brain for the rest of the information that will come about and allows your brain to be better able to pick the most essential pieces of information you need from your chosen text.

Highlight

Highlighting essential sentences or paragraphs is extremely helpful for retaining information. The problem, however, with highlighting is that we wind up highlighting way too much. This happens because we tend to highlight before we begin to understand. Before your pages become a neon of colored highlights, make sure that you only highlight what is essential to improve your understanding and not highlight the whole page.

Speed Read

You might think there have been no new ways to read, but even the ancient skill of reading comes up with innovative ways; enter speed reading. The standard slow process shouldn't affect your understanding, but it does kill your enthusiasm. The average adult goes through around 200 to 250 words per minute. A college student can read around 450 words, while a professor averages about 650 words per minute, to mention a few examples. The average speed reader can manage 1,500 words; quite a difference! Of course, the argument arises between quality and quantity. For avid readers, they want both quantity and quality, which leads us to the next point.

Quality Reading

Life is too short to expect to gain knowledge from just one type of genre. Some basic outcomes of reading are to expand your mind, perceive situations and events differently, expose yourself to other viewpoints, and more. If you only stick to one author and one type of material, you are missing out on a great opportunity to learn new things.

Having said that, if there's a book you are simply not enjoying, remember that life is also too short to continue reading it. Simply, close it, put it away and maybe give it another go later on, or give it away. There is no shame or guilt in not liking a book; even if it's from a favorite author. It's pretty much clear that you won't gain anything from a book that you don't even enjoy, let alone expect to learn something from it.

Summarize

If you're able to summarize what you have read, then you have understood. When you summarize, you are bringing up all the major points that enhance your understanding. You can easily do so chapter by chapter.

Take a good look at your life and what's going on in it. Accordingly, you'll choose the material that is much more suitable for your situation and circumstances. When you read a piece of information that you find beneficial, look for a way to apply it to your life. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge isn't all that beneficial. But the application of knowledge from a helpful book is what will help you and make your life more interesting and more meaningful.