Social Distancing is the MOST IMPORTANT TIME EVER to Perfect *This* Social Skill
When people ask me what my blog is about, I want to tell them, "Playfulness." Playfulness is why I started this blog. It's on my About page; it's discussed on some of my most popular posts...
Yet one recurring theme has been assertiveness. Assertiveness seems at odds with playfulness... but, in fact, I've found assertiveness to be a crucial skill that enables my playfulness.
And it's probably one of the most important possible social skills you can learn and use during the current lockdown/quarantine/social distancing protocols.
See, if I didn't have the willingness to stop my mansplainer from mansplaining, a playful, perfect evening would turn into a tedious hour of listening to some dude jerk himself off.
If I didn't have the courage to scream NO in someone's face because he kept trying to kiss me, I couldn't accept the number of invitations I accept. I could't go out without a male companion to protect me. And kisses wouldn't even be special anymore -- I'd just give them out to anyone who demanded one. Gross!
If I didn't have the assertiveness to stand up for myself and defend my boundaries and interests, I certainly couldn't travel alone or go backpacking in the wilderness by myself.
From: @TheHappyTalent on Instagram.
And I never would have had fun at basketball (if I couldn't look some sexist kegbelly in the eye and ask, "Why?" when he tried to make me guard a mouse instead of the biggest, best player on the other team, what even would be the point of playing?) or ultimate frisbee (if I didn't say, "No," when the men tried to switch the gender ratio from 3-4 to 2-5, all the women on my team would have been robbed of play time we'd been promised when we signed our checks and joined the league).
That is a LOT of missed opportunities for play, joy, and adventure.
Thinking about how many people I've talked to (on Facebook and Quora and Zoom, obviously) over the last few days, I've realized just how many people seem completely uncertain how to maintain social distance while out buying groceries, hiking, or walking their dog.
Assertiveness, I've realized, is a crucial skill for any playful person and solo adventurer... But right now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it's also a crucial survival skill that will literally save lives. Maybe yours. Maybe your husband's or your mother's. Maybe a rude, stupid stranger's.
For example, several people have wondered what to do if they're out buying groceries and people start to come within six feet of them.
Easy! Use your words to tell the person/people to stay away.
Here are some phrases I've used:
Then there are situations where you need to pass someone, either on a trail or a sidewalk or in a grocery store aisle. Often, "polite" people will take a small step to the side, making enough room for you to pass by, but not at social distance.
It's definitely awkward to shit on this politeness -- but you have to. If you care about the people you love, if you care about maintaining your lung capacity and protecting vulnerable and at-risk populations, you have to shit on this show of politeness. Here are some phrases I've used:
Another situation that's come up for me is, I reluctantly agreed to go biking with this dude I know, but specifically told him we had to maintain social distance.
Yet the first thing he did when I pulled up at the trailhead was get super close to my car and start breathing all over it. So I'm like:
He's all, "Ohhh! You're being paranoid! I haven't interacted with anyone except my roommate (who only interacts with these three other people, who only interact with...???)!"
So I'm like:
So he backs up. We start this epic ride, and there's no one around for miles.
From: @TheHappyTalent on Instagram
We get to a gorgeous viewpoint. He tries to hand me his phone and says, "Can you take my photo?"
I leap backwards and say:
He bitches, "I feel like you're too stressed about this."
And I'm like:
We continue on across the slickrock, which eventually turns into singletrack.
From: @TheHappyTalent on Instagram
Up ahead, I see two other bikers. They're not as fast as me, and I know I'm going to have to pass them pretty soon.
Instead of squeezing by them at the soonest opportunity, I come up about ten feet behind them and say,
They stop, "politely," to let me pass. I reiterate,
So I biked a little more slowly than I would have preferred for, like, two minutes. I wasn't thrilled that this was going to affect my Strava time... but it's better than killing my mother!
Once they arrived at a little turnout-looking thingie, the guys got off the path, and I passed them. "Thanks!" I shouted back once I'd passed them.
Later, a guy was walking his dog, walking towards me. He moved a few inches off the trail for me to pass.
I shout, getting a good 15 feet off the trail and indicating that he should go ahead, even though he's already made room and yielded to me.
I know this sounds so awkward and weird.
I won't lie. It is.
I'm not 100% comfortable with acting like this -- but I do it anyway.
One of the greatest joys in life is the kindness of strangers. I love making eye contact, starting conversations, smiling, meeting new people. It's been said that I "flirt with basically everyone" -- and I love this about myself!
It seems like only yesterday, I traveled to Show Low, Arizona, to visit with some new friends I met at the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival... But is also seems like forever ago. Image: The Happy Talent on Facebook.
In normal, non-pandemic life, assertive skills are important not only for your safety, but also for your happiness and joy.
But right now, those skills will literally save lives. Maybe mine. Maybe yours. Maybe the person you love most's. Maybe a stranger's. Maybe 20 strangers'.
If ever there was a time to get comfortable with this kind of discomfort, it is right now.
I leave you with this obligatory gif from The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Gif ALL Women Need To See IMMEDIATELY:
Try to #StayHome. But if you must venture out, please remember that now is the time to #BeAssertive.
4/6/2020 12:37:31 pm
This is so important. I keep hearing from women who say things like "my neighbor keeps coming over when I'm on my porch" or "someone stopped to pat my dog" and it's like WHY?? Did you not ask them to stop?
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Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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