Dawn O Watson/CNBNews Contributor
I’m social distancing. I’ve been at it for sixty-nine years.
As a child I was always the tallest among my friends. That made it awkward when one of them insisted on hugging me. Most of them didn’t quite reach my chin. Some of them were chest-height. If I bent down to hug one of them my behind stuck out. If I stood up, I’d lift them off their feet. Either option could cause trouble, so I usually just kept my distance.
In high school we weren’t allowed physical contact except in gym class. I was tall and extremely clumsy, so nobody wanted me on their team. I usually stayed as far in the back of the room as possible because if I was picked for a team, they didn’t even have to play the game—they knew they’d lose because of my ineptitude. Even the teachers knew. They pretended I was invisible, and I was happy to sit alone and watch.
When I married my husband went to many parties without me or we’d take separate cars so I could leave when I became overwhelmed. I called it “over-peopled”. My friends understood. I didn’t care what non-friends thought.
Over the years my clumsiness and social awkwardness became legendary. When I hit the age of sixty, I no longer made excuses for my social distance. I figured that by then, I could be as accommodating (or as non-accommodating) as I chose and not be worried about what others thought of me. When I came to that conclusion I felt as though a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders—I could just be me.
With the creation of Facebook, I can catch up with old friends and make a few new ones at my own speed and in the comfort of my home.
It’s fortunate that social media has made social distancing easy. While I still attend the occasional gathering, friends know that I’m much more comfortable speaking with just one or two folks at a time. I learned that being awkward isn’t terrible, being aloof isn’t a crime, and keeping a distance isn’t such a bad idea, after all.
But if you see me at a picnic and you choose me for your volley ball team don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Pictured: The author and a friend at a book signing