My ‘New Normal’

For some, making friends is the easiest thing in the world. I have a best friend, and it’s obscene how quickly he forms personal relationships with people. He talks to everyone, everywhere, and by the time we’ve had a quiet drink together in a local pub or bar, he has a dozen phone numbers and a plethora of invitations to parties and gatherings.

If only it was that simple for the rest of us.

I’ve always been quite private, and I could spend some time reflecting on when and where that started, but, it’s still true today. What some people see as cold indifference, is in fact just an anxiety around meeting strangers. I would rather die than make small talk with someone. Some days are better than others.

Whilst the Covid-19 pandemic has started a wave of people taking up fitness classes in their living room courtesy of YouTube (I thought I was quite good at Zumba – the hips don’t lie), participating in family quizzes over video-call, taking the time to be more creative, completing those lingering jobs around the house, or literally trying to get through a day of home-schooling/entertaining children, I’ve surprised myself by actually making friends.

I have work to do at home ; I’m a key worker but my school is closed. I spend each day planning lessons for my students to access online, and providing support to them when needed. I support my family who are NHS workers and try to adjust to a ‘new normal’ like the rest of society is, and I spend the gaps in between engaging with strangers, and new friends.

This isn’t what I expected.

I DM for a number of different groups – but there is a group I play with frequently during the week and talk to every day. We cross counties, countries, and continents. That’s insane. These people have burst into my life at the most surreal time in my entire existence. I’ve shared things with some of them that I never thought I would, and I work really hard to create stories that they will enjoy and look forward to. I want to make their lock-down better. I want them to remember the lock-down the same way as I do: difficult, emotionally and physically challenging, and punctuated with some wonderful moments.

I’m incredibly thankful that I reached out in response to someone brave enough themselves to go looking for a DM on social media. And feel incredibly lucky to see their reactions over video-call when they experience an amazing moment as players in our game. They’re the reason why I’m writing this, and why I write about D&D at all. If something positive arises from the whole world having to stop and take a breath, then it’s this: I’m doing OK. And…thank you for helping.

Our little geeky world might seem very strange to some, but to others it’s wonderfully poignant. Who knows what will happen as our ‘new normal’ evolves. I’ll still be amazed by how easily my best friend connects with people, but then I’m sure he’d be amazed by what I do with my new friends. I hope you’ve all found some time during this period to connect (or reconnect) with the people you love and the things that make you happy. Try not to be so hard on yourself, and reach out whenever you need to.

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