“The most interesting thing I have learned about myself during the global pandemic is that perhaps I overvalued that silence. I miss people. I miss the human interaction that the office brought every day. I now cherish the tiny facial tick or smile that you could only discern when you saw someone in person—something that is most definitely missing when you are on a video call.”—Annie Carroll Maffeo
Working Through Motherhood
By Annie Carroll Maffeo
BATAVIA Illinois—(Weekly Hubris)—1 June 2020—I have spent my life fluctuating between introvert and extrovert.
Depending on my age and time of life, I have identified either as minimally extroverted or minimally introverted.
My work, trade show director, means I can spend days speaking and interacting with hundreds if not thousands of people. But, at the end of an event, I need days to recover, folding myself back into my tiny little bubble of family, energy sapped by the non-stop socialization. Some of my favorite days at my job are when the show is at its end and I am making sure all of the freight and exhibitors get out of the convention center. I get to walk the halls alone and say hello to the ten lone stragglers who are still in building with me.
At that point, silence is golden.
The most interesting thing I have learned about myself during the global pandemic is that perhaps I overvalued that silence: I miss people.
I miss the human interaction that the office brought every day.
I now cherish the tiny facial tick or smile that you could only discern when you saw someone in person—something that is most definitely missing when you are on a video call. The lilt of someone’s voice that a computer microphone cannot pick up on . . . .
I mourn for the days of a hug.
My husband and son may not miss it, but I absolutely miss interacting with strangers at the store and asking them random questions while we stand in line.
Please do not be mistaken. I have spent eight weeks with a three-year-old (no silence) and my husband, both of whom are great company. But, unbeknownst to me, I need additional human interaction. I love the funny unexpected stories of life that evolve through simple conversation.
There is a reason the birthday car parades bring me to tears. They are the shadowy remnants of that human interaction I yearn for so much.
I cannot wait until we can freely and awkwardly interact again. Some of the most beautiful moments of humanity happen by chance when we get to be together. The laughter that boils over into uncontrollable with a friend. The tears that are only shed when you see someone you care about achieve a goal. That hug that only a Gramma can give.
I long for those days and cannot wait until we can have them back. Appreciate them for what they are. Simple, human reactions and interactions. I know they may not be exactly the same, and that is fine.
For now, I will choose to stay as safe and healthy as I can. I will count my lucky stars that I am not in a high-risk category and that I enjoy the company of my quarantine companions. Once the world begins to reopen, I will smile a bit more broadly at those I see, and revel in the noise of people as they wander the halls of a convention center more than I ever have before. For mine is a heart that needs people.