On Being Not Social


I tagged along with my parents to a family friend’s house party this weekend, where I saw friends’ parents whom I hadn’t seen in months, if not years. “How long are you home for this time?” they asked. Bracing myself against the fear of judgment that covered me, I took a breath and replied, “Indefinitely, I guess. I quit my job.”

Telling a group of Chinese parents that you’ve quit your job without anything lined up is pretty scary: in a culture where practicality and stability are highly valued, my risky plan and unemployed status probably banish me to the dungeon category of “people we don’t EVER want our kids to be like.” But now that the cat’s REALLY out of the bag to arguably the most intimidating group of people to tell, I can freely talk about what it’s been like for the past two weeks!

The past two weeks have been interesting because I went from leading an extremely active social life to basically having zero social interactions (besides my family, of course) for literally fourteen days. I know, because I counted: from an awesome lunch with the Tanakas to celebrate my newly engaged best friend + her fiancee, two weeks had passed until Laura and I caught up this weekend at a cool coffee shop nearby (check it out – really cool shop supporting kids with Down Syndrome).

This, I told my parents, is probably the longest I have EVER gone without seeing someone from outside of my family (not counting cashiers and librarians and people I run into on errands). Because of the fact that most of us spend our time either in school or at work, in fact, it’s nearly impossible to go more than maybe the weekend without conversation with a classmate, a coworker, a friend.

I guess it’s technically cheating to say I had no social interactions, because of course I’m home with my parents and grandparents. But while living in New York, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, I got into the habit of having or making plans nearly every weeknight and weekend – it was definitely a way to make sure I wouldn’t feel lonely or homesick in a new city, and I was so stimulated by the unending places to see and places to eat in these huge metropolitan cities.

Suffice to say that I thought I would quickly go stir crazy being back home in the suburbs, particularly with two weeks passing without seeing any friends. But interestingly enough, I didn’t mind it at all. So here’s what I’ve learned from this experience of being not social:

  • There’s more time to get stuff done. I had time to do arts and crafts yesterday. I cook lunch and dinner for my grandparents every day. I cleaned my room of my childhood belongings and high school scantrons. When I’d come home in the past, I would spend my time going out to meet up with old friends or just enjoying time with my parents; I never made the time to just sit down and take care of stuff around the house that needed to get done.
  • The suburbs are really pretty. I’d started appreciating being in Hoffman Estates again on my breaks from the cities, but I’m just so reminded of how pretty the suburbs can be. I like seeing the houses with the yards all lined up neatly on the streets. We are lucky to have an awesome library with surroundings that are nice enough for people to make it a pre-prom photo option. My grandpa has become a regular visitor of two turtles that live in Victoria Park. The sky is so, so, so blue. When I’m not being too distracted to get somewhere or to see someone, I’m able to appreciate what’s around me a lot more.
  • I’m okay being not social. More okay than I thought I would be, anyway. I’m still an extravert at heart, and of course it helps that I have my family to hang out with while I’m home. And I recognize that I’ve only been home for a few weeks. But these past two weeks, despite not seeing any friends, I didn’t feel at all antsy or bothered – and I’m proud of myself for it. It’s refreshing to remember that what makes me tick is really just being around those I love, not leading a packed social life. I’m excited to being more of a homebody, especially when Chase and I get to spend more time together.

So far, I’m enjoying this quiet break from working. I’m sure things will change if I stay unemployed too long, but wish me luck, guys – let’s hope that this isn’t TOO long of a break!


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