Meeting a new person can be awkward sometimes, but amidst a global pandemic, meeting a new person is always awkward. I don’t get embarrassed easily, but I found myself blushing after meeting some new people the other day when it came time to say goodbye. I never thought hugs, handshakes, and high-fives would have the potential to spike my anxiety.

My cousin will be having her virtual wedding ceremony this Saturday, so to celebrate her upcoming day, my other cousins and I went to her house for a “spa day." We each sat at our own personalized nail stations, equipped with files, lotions, and polish, as we watched the movie Bridesmaids and ate junk food. It was a safe and fun way to get my cousin excited for her big day, but when the day was coming to a close, my awkward side crept up.

It was the first time I met a few of her bridesmaids, and quite honestly, it was the first time I met new people in about 10 months. I forgot what it was like to introduce myself to someone, and that’s when I realized a typical goodbye may not be appropriate.

As we all said our goodbyes and I turned to one of my new friends, I extended my arm for a fist bump. But at the same time, she came in for a hug. I quickly changed my fist to an open gesture of accepting the hug, but then she simultaneously changed her hug to a fist. I then extended my elbow, as we ended our awkward interaction with a nervous wave, and it was at this moment I realized that post-COVID life might do a number on my anxiety levels.

How are we supposed to know how to greet someone or say our goodbyes without making the other feel uncomfortable? Are hugs canceled?

It was a lot for one day; my awkward little heart is spent.

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