Anxious About Going Back to the Pub? Here’s Why


The pub is my absolute favourite place to be.

Tap beer. Friends. Conversations with humans you’d never otherwise have the opportunity to meet. That one weird guy that’s always in a fedora lurking in the corner. Three-digit sums wiped from my bank account. Everything about the pub is the best and I miss it very much.

And this is why I find it extremely odd that I find myself becoming more and more anxious about walking through the pub’s welcoming doors come October, or doing anything that involves being around anyone other than my roommate. Have I become a hermit crab during lockdown? I hope not, because a crab would have a very hard time carrying a beer, which I am looking forward to a lot. And yet also dreading. Turns out, this anxiety about going back to normal is something a lot of people are feeling.

A report back in March by the American Psychology Association found that 49% of Americans were hesitant about in-person interactions following isolation. Same with 49% of the Brits. So it isn’t just me. Here’s why many of us are experiencing pre-pub jitters.

At the Pub, Brisbane 1982 by Rennie Ellis

How do we say hello again? 

Not interacting with people for a long time is a lot like not playing your childhood sport for 10 years and then being roped into a game on a Tuesday because Michael broke his leg and his team needs a sub. You know how to pass the ball off, but 100m is definitely double the length it was when you were 15. The same goes for hanging out in large groups of people in the flesh. Right now, we’re very unpractised in social settings, therefore anxious about doing something we haven’t done in a long time. I love chatting, but the thought of holding a conversation with someone where I can’t just press ESC is kind of wigging me out. I’d be more comfortable talking to a table than around it.

There’s a bit on

Any change, either good or bad, is somewhat stressful. It is particularly stressful if that change means going back to a more hectic pace of life than we are currently at. Even if the change in pace includes more positive social events like going to the pub, sport, or hanging with your mates, it still means a lot more decisions and things to factor in. Also, going back into the world means you have to put clothes on and be somewhat presentable which requires effort. Damn.

Should I stay or should I go

The end is in sight. This is exciting. We want this to be over. We’re excited. Because we’ve been waiting so long for this, we feel like the only thing we should be is excited. Except right now, our autopilot is stuck on restriction and hypervigilance. We’ve been in lockdown so long we’re used to it, so going back to normal sort of feels like we’re doing something wrong. Clinical psychologist Julia Faulconbridge from the British Psychology Society says any time in isolation leaves after effects. And that’s what we are starting to feel now: we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we’re not sure how to navigate it. Rest assured, just as we adjusted to life in lockdown, over time we’ll adjust to all the social goodness we’re equally stressed and excited about. See you at the pub!

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