Withdrawing into a shell as the world reopens

When the Movement Control Order (MCO) was imposed on March 18, I was a bit worried for myself. I knew deep inside it would not be a two-week affair as first announced but at least two to three months, maybe longer.

All my norms since I decided on a less stressful lifestyle in 2015 were “under threat”. Over the past few years, I had become more easy-going, less stressed and always had time to smell the roses.

How would I cope not being able to socialise with friends? How would I feel not taking leisure walks in malls? How difficult would it be ordering takeaway meals? How restless would I be not being able to take out-of-town holidays with friends and family?

But then, I surprised myself. I took to the new lifestyle like a duck to water. What did I do to pass my time? Mostly nothing, except for my job and reading a lot, especially on the Covid-19 pandemic.

The rest of my time was spent on social media, chatting with the family, and doing that ketua keluarga (leader of the family) thing – going out to buy food or get groceries – although that duty was shared with my wife.

Fast forward to today and I have surprised myself again. This time it is the reverse. I thought it would be easy going back to the pre-MCO days although many restrictions have been lifted gradually since May 4. I was wrong.

The hardest part is I feel uncomfortable with people around me.

I know it’s generally safe and with my neighbourhood hardly affected in terms of Covid-19 cases, I shouldn’t worry too much.

Maybe I’ve psyched myself too much to be wary of my surroundings. Or maybe I am discovering my true self – that I am happier (and feel safer) at home. I must have been a closet introvert, if there’s such a thing.

Even when with friends (four times since the Recovery Movement Control Order began on June 10), I feel like there’s someone in my head telling me to go home. Is it paranoia?

Then there’s the “rude” attitude I have developed. It’s most evident during my evening walks in the neighbourhood. If a fellow neighbour is approaching from the other direction, I cross over to the other side of the road (to maintain physical distancing).

Sometimes, the other person is the “rude” one and will cross to the other side. That makes me feel good as I am not the “guilty” one. There’s so much discomfort doing this but I guess you have to be “rude” to be nice. We don’t want anyone spreading the virus through droplets in the air, do we?

Does anyone else feel like me? Or am I the only one?

Let’s hope it’s just a phase and there’s fast healing for not only me, but for everyone who has been affected one way or another by the pandemic.