The Pandemic One Year Later: Feeling the Loss of Casual Interactions


As we approach the one year anniversary of the pandemic, is anyone else starting to really feel it?

I can’t quite explain what it is, but it’s an intense rush of emotions that take over when we least expect them to. With such a roller coaster of ups and downs the last year – panic, disappointment, boredom, solidarity, tightening of inner circles, new discoveries, quality time at home – we’ve all managed to survive (and in some cases thrive). 
But we’ve also felt a deep sense of loss. 
There have been the more obvious losses that have left holes in our hearts: spending time with loved ones, celebrating holidays like normal, enjoying family vacations, feeling secure with job certainty. And many have had to grieve devastating news.
But now one year in, we are really starting to feel the impact of the loss of life’s most casual interactions.
Below are the things I’m really starting to miss.
Relationships outside of our inner covid-circle. This article talks about how friendship groups have been forced to change over the course of Covid. I am incredibly lucky to have family nearby, a very tight knit group of friends in my inner quarantine circle, and a job where I engage with people (albeit digitally) day to day.
Not only do I miss friends who aren’t in my direct covid bubble, but I’m starting to feel the effects of missing out on the interactions with “day-to-day” acquaintances. I miss the small interactions with those I only see once a year at the company Christmas party, the women I see at professional networking events, the moms in the waiting room at my daughters’ dance classes, and the neighbors who aren’t directly living next to me. Basically, I miss everyone. 
Browsing for the sake of browsing. For all the moms, I know you feel me on this one. I miss the freedom and entertainment of taking my time to browse. And it doesn’t really matter where – Target, a local boutique, a furniture shop, or the makeup aisle of Walgreens. There is just something so rewarding about grabbing an iced coffee and taking a solo trip to spend 30 minutes browsing. And I miss the solidarity nods from fellow browsers who have a moment to themselves to do basically nothing. It’s just not quite as enjoyable as it was pre-covid. 
In-person experiences, big and small. Life is all about the experience and subsequently the memories created. What I wouldn’t give to experience a live show at the theater, indulge in a grossly overpriced popcorn at the movies, spend a Saturday in the cold wind cheering at a sporting event, or spend an evening around a large table of friends with the wine flowing. I miss the experience of dining out, concerts, gatherings, community events. At this point, I would take a crowd if it meant I could have an experience in return. 
Informal interactions with strangers. I miss the casual hellos, small chatter, and impromptu connections with strangers and acquaintances. According to this article, people typically interact somewhere between 11 and 16 times with strangers or those just outside of their tight knit circle. We no longer have the opportunity for these kind of interactions. 
And this article explains how Covid19 is essentially robbing us of “weak ties” we have with individuals whom we would typically encounter on the daily – the barista, the mom pushing her toddler on a swing at the park, the cashier, the person in line next to you at the grocery store. We’ve lost the experience of small talk, which at a glance may seem like a positive for some, but research shows that these informal interactions can increase productivity and overall well being. Interactions with strangers are typically positive experiences for our brains!
Hugs. For those cringing and not a fan of hugging (pandemic or not), I apologize. But man what I wouldn’t do for a casual side half-hug. Admittedly, I have accidentally hugged when I’ve run into someone I haven’t seen in months. It’s a reflex that I’m still working on…pandemic or not. 
Basically, I miss everything especially the day to day interactions with others. 

What do you miss most about life pre-pandemic? 

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Angela is the founder of Wichita Mom, the premier parenting website and community for local moms. Wife to her high school bestie, mom to two girls, and native Wichitan, she is thrilled to be raising her family in her hometown after telling her family for years she "would never move back". She is a strong advocate for mental health, believes in the power of community, and walks the talk of "babes supporting babes". She is a self-proclaimed connector, enthusiast of many things, cheerleader of moms and women, and recently converted homebody.