Dear Eli, I get that we have to self-isolate for the greater good, really I do. But my family seem to feel that because we’re cut off from the rest of the world, we must spend every waking moment together, and it’s really draining. I love them, but does wanting alone time make me selfish? – Alex, 24
You have family? Because of my superhero origin story…well you get the idea.
First off, no. Wanting to spend time by yourself does not make you selfish. We all experience stress in different ways and we all have different coping mechanisms to deal with it. Family TikToks to Eurovision songs may look fun and appealing, but I guarantee you they are the exception and not the rule. Don’t judge your relationship with your family in comparison to what you see in 60 second video aimed at getting traction online.
Giving them the benefit of the doubt, your family are probably concerned about your well-being just as much as they are for your elderly relatives. We’ve all had to make sacrifices during this pandemic and your commitment to observing the social distancing guidelines are to be commended.
Saying that, you’re a 24 year old adult who is capable of making their own decisions, and your family need to respect that you are your own person with different needs to what you needed as a child.
I also fully respect the pragmatic thinking that distancing yourself from people you are constantly in close proximity to, to benefit the sanity of the whole group. We don’t know what will happen if a second wave of coronavirus hits and quarantine conditions are extended. Cabin fever is a very real experience that in the long run will almost certainly damage relationships.
Whether they believe that communicating with friends via social media is the same as communicating in person can be argued. We exist online as much as we exist in real life. Technology has moved on grandma.
Even though you don’t owe it to them, If it makes them feel better and more open to the idea, plan out your alone time and have things to do during it such as chatting to friends, binge-watch The Umbrella Academy or make TikToks on times the tv show Glee was problematic.
What’s the worst that could happen? They can only throw you out 5 km from the front door.
If you have any questions that you want Eli’s advice on, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: Advice Column question, and I’ll be sure to pass it on.