Learning to like Facetime
I’m alone in my apartment right now, just as I have been since the end of spring break. It’s been weeks since I’ve seen anyone I know in person, and I’m starting to feel the effects of that isolation.
As an introvert, I had no trouble dealing with the first two weeks of quarantine. In fact, I actually really enjoyed the chance to slow down and reconnect with myself. I got back into healthy habits, such as yoga and journaling, that my busy schedule had pushed aside during the normal school year. I read for hours, watched several films, practiced photography and spent a lot of time with nature (away from other people of course). I even dove into some new hobbies, including painting and drawing. Basically, I was spending my time exactly how I wanted to, and I was happy with that.
But then the loneliness started to creep in. After this past week of almost no social interaction, I started to feel a little homesick. Not really for my home itself, but for the people who make me feel at home whenever we’re together.
Still, the feeling was only at the edges of my consciousness, evident but not overwhelming. I soldiered on in the name of self care, continuing to focus on how I could emerge from quarantine as the best version of myself.
Until this weekend, when the isolation seeped further into my brain. I woke up one morning and wanted nothing more than to hug my mom, laugh with a friend, look a loved one in the eye; I wanted to catch an in-person glimpse into a world other than my own.
I realized that although I do enjoy my own company, it’s not always enough. I was craving connection beyond myself. And I still am.
But now I’m putting more effort into finding ways to meaningfully connect with my family and friends from a distance. I’ve never been a huge fan of Facetime, usually preferring to save conversations for when I see someone in person. From the beginning of quarantine, I’ve been Facetiming my friends and families back home, but the interactions still felt cold to me and only served as reminders of our distance.
The breakthrough finally came when I started to use Facetime more creatively, opting to use it for something other than simple conversation.
For example, a few days ago I played “Just Dance” with my sister over Facetime, dancing alone in my dorm room as she did the same in our living room back in New Jersey. I used Netflix Party to watch “Ozark” with my high school friends, Facetiming afterwards to discuss the show.
Yesterday, I Facetimed my 11-year-old cousin and we each painted a sunflower, spending time together despite our distance. This was especially meaningful because I don’t usually talk to my little cousin much except for when we both find ourselves at family gatherings. I really valued the chance to connect with her in a way that I probably wouldn’t have been able to if we were still in the midst of a busy school year.
All of these online encounters were fulfilling to me because they went beyond simple conversation and brought my loved ones and I together through action. We were spending quality time together instead of just talking over the phone. That’s what made the difference for me.
So, I guess what I’ve learned this week is that I need to get better at communicating with people when it’s not necessarily easy. Even when we’re not in the middle of a global health crisis, I sometimes get too wrapped up in my own life and forget to reach out to the people who I love from a distance. This includes my family, my high school friends and some of my UM friends who have graduated and moved away from campus.
Facetime isn’t my favorite way of communicating, but it’s better to spend time with someone through a screen than not at all. I hope I take this message with me beyond quarantine, learning to use Facetime creatively so that I can share experiences with the people I care about, no matter where they are in the world.
After all, life is better when shared.
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