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Singlehood And Self-Isolation

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Social distancing is the goal during this pandemic, but self-isolation has also pushed millions of people closer together over the past month. Working parents are now home with their children 24/7, and roommates may have no choice but to self-isolate with each other. But what if you're single and live alone? What do you do when you just need a hug?

Shani Silver writes about this and a lot of other things in the Every Single Day essay series for Refinery29. Her latest is titled "Coronavirus And Single Scaries: I Just Want A Husband Right Now." And that's because, Silver told us from her place in Brooklyn, New York, living single during this moment is a very different experience than choosing the single life in normal times.

SHANI SILVER: This is not a typical day at home in any capacity. I think when you remove choice, and you dial up fear, being home by yourself is a very different experience. And I think when we are - as human beings, when we're scared, it's helpful when you have someone to be scared with. You are alone for the duration of this, and that duration is uncertain. And that doesn't take away from being very comfortable being a single woman. It's just adding on new feelings that I was not experiencing before the pandemic.

MARTIN: Well, one other issue you mentioned I think probably feels very real to people, even if they haven't considered the other things that you've pointed out, is you mentioned in your essay that your insurance provider sent you some recommendations that made references to another person watching you for possible symptoms. Or if you are unwell, it's, like, how to quarantine - like, have somebody else bring you food. Who is that person going to be in your case?

SILVER: That person does not exist. The email you're referencing was from my insurance provider, and they were sort of categorizing symptom levels and indicating which could be dealt with at home and which required a hospital visit. And one of the symptoms that required a hospital visit was somebody is having trouble waking me up. And there is no way for me to know if (laughter) someone has trouble waking me up because there's no one here.

So that scared me. That was a very isolating moment. That was a very terrifying moment - I mean, among plenty others, but that one especially. Like, how am I - is that a symptom? Does this have to be monitored by someone else? Because that's absolutely terrifying.

MARTIN: Have you come up with some ideas about how to deal with this new reality?

SILVER: A lot of it comes down to perspective. And I - there's this weird kind of, like, contest vibe of, like, who has it worse right now. And I don't like that, and that's not my intention in saying this. But, like, having perspective for how safe we are and how comfortable we are in any given moment really helps - like, identifying for yourself that you are safe and you are OK. Despite being alone, I'm still very, very safe. And sort of maintaining that perspective and understanding that I'm OK, and that many people are not is a comfort.

And then in the moments that are really hard, what I've started doing is every time that I'm sort of here, and I realize, like, no one cares if I'm OK right now - in those moments, I try to check on other people. I try to text all of my single girlfriends and make sure that they're doing OK. I text my friends who have young kids and ask them how they're doing.

So anytime that I don't feel well, I make sure that I'm actively reaching out to other people because there's a good chance that they're feeling like I'm feeling, too, because we're all experiencing this. And checking on other people, I've found, is just a nice thing to do in the first place. But it also has the added benefit of lifting my spirits as well.

MARTIN: Shani Silver writes about being single for Refinery29. She's also the host of "A Single Serving Podcast."

Shani, thanks so much for talking to us.

SILVER: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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