Good God, yes.
All the time, even. Here’s a little story that might sound familiar to Many – coming out of the Covid Years (also known as QuaranTimes), as I was slowly and tensely re-entering the world and beginning to see more people, things felt… different. It was harder for me to connect with people. I found that, even when talking to people I’m close to, I was slower, more anxious about what to say, and found myself feeling stand-offish & weird. I couldn’t tap into a conversational flow as easily, leading to more stilted silences than I was used to/preferred. On top of all of that, I found that my stamina to socialize had decreased in a major way and I needed much more time to recover – which is to say, time to lie on the floor in the dark (but like, in a hot way). In short: My Introvert Season had begun. After all, I had spent the previous 2 years living and working in my apartment, predominantly alone, mostly talking my plants.
It made sense that my ability to verbally connect with people had decreased, because I hadn’t had the opportunity to do it. It's the equivalent of the pull-up bar I have hanging in my hallway. If I hang on it every day (because I can’t *technically* do a pull up yet, which is one of this years goals so stand by!), then I’m able to sustain for a while - tens of seconds, even! However, if I let a week go by in between a hang-sesh, the next time I try is always much harder for me to sustain, and I give up much quicker. This medium metaphor is a way of saying… Use it or Lose it. Muscles can atrophy, abilities can soften & get sloppier, and without consistent thoughtful effort, skills are harder to maintain.
But Despair Not! Because if it can weaken, it can be strengthened. Mental cobwebs can be dusted off and socializing can feel easier. Like all things, it will take effort, intention, and patience.
Your authentic voice can never truly be lost, it will always be waiting inside of you, ready to be deployed with fresh energy.
Humans are innately social creatures (none of this “Long Wolf'' mess) and connecting with others is our birthright. In short - it will get easier each time you try. If you Build it, They Will Come (#fieldofdreams).
And now, for some Practical Advice:
If you’re feeling insecure about your ability to speak to people and feel caught up in your head about, try this: Ask questions and actively Listen.
Good, classic communication isn’t just one person talking (that’s a monologue), it’s also having the grace to open up a conversation for everyone. This is an opportunity to set others up to share and give you something to relate to, which will generate the good conversational flow.
And One Final Note of Hope:
This is something I’m seeing consistently with my clients. The Post-Covid Reunion Tour has been a challenge for so many of us, and if you are feeling the isolating pain of disconnect as well, I want to reassure you that you are not alone.
Be patient with yourself as you build the skill back and trust that it can become stronger than ever with time and effort.
Or more simply…. Show up and hang on tight to that pull-up bar. Do you have a communication challenge or question? Submit to firstname.lastname@example.org.