The loss of spontaneous social plans is an unexpected downside to freedom

Don’t get us wrong, we are thrilled that we can finally see (and hug) our family and friends again. 

But it’s safe to say that spontaneous social plans are no longer a thing.

Instead, booking weeks in advance is essential if you want any kind of restaurant, pub or bar reservation.

So you can forget going for a post-work pint with your colleague or texting a friend for a last-minute dinner catch-up – social events have to be firmly locked in the calendar weeks in advance, in a post-lockdown world. 

It’s pretty stressful planning so far ahead, too, and it’s making even highly-organised people start to crack.

Do plans made two months ago still stand? 

In the coronavirus climate, we’ve become so used to thinking about the present that it’s hard for us to look so far ahead.

It’s even becoming a cause of anxiety for some people – which makes perfect sense considering it’s something we never did before. It’s an enormous change in our social lives. 

Lucy Locket, who is the director of her own clothing brand Lucy Locket Loves, has been struggling with this side of things.

She tells Metro.co.uk: ‘I’m always so busy with work, owning my own business, I usually find that my plans would be spontaneous and last minute when gaps in my schedule appeared.

‘This worked so well for me, because it helped me to destress and feel less anxious when I knew that I needed to step back – when I could text a friend and go for some food, or to the cinema. 

‘However, in a Covid world, I find it really difficult to do this, with so much need to book in advance – so when my schedule is free now I find myself not being able to do something spontaneous and, because of this, it often results in me doing nothing at all. 

‘Booking plans so far in advance makes me feel quite anxious, as I am more of a day-to-day person and – as my entire social life works around my schedule and how I’m feeling on a day – this can’t be planned or scheduled in.

‘It’s easy to schedule work in, but impossible to schedule and plan a social life.’

Yinka Ewuola, a fellow business owner, is also finding the new social landscape quite tough – particularly for balancing all the different areas of her life. 

She’s also really missing last-minute meet-ups.

Yinka says: ‘Because I run a business and have kids as well, those areas of my life are pretty regimented, so I love to keep more free flow in my social life, but it’s just impossible

‘There wasn’t a single child-based attraction in London that’s not booked up until July and, given the time slots and other such constraints, trying to navigate them with a toddler is such a challenge.

‘I understand why, but think it’s important to allow room for some spontaneity.’

However, 29-year-old Quincy Dash, from London, says she’s not letting new booking rules get in her way – but this does come with consequences.

Quincy says: ‘I hate the fact you have to book, I remember the days where you’d just go out and wouldn’t imagine where you’d end up.

‘I still don’t book – I live for the spontaneous nights. However, it wastes a good 2-3 hours hopping around trying to find a place to finally let us in.

‘Once you’re in you are scared to leave just in case you can’t get in anywhere else and back to square one – so we normally stay longer these days before moving on.

‘I really do hope everything will get back to normal, the bank holiday showed that we’re on track but not quite there yet. I mean it’s better than outdoor dining, when it was near impossible to get in somewhere.

‘Without a doubt, you feel even more exhausted by the end of the night, with all the waiting and hopping around. 

‘We do eventually have a good time when we get in, however the uncertainty of getting in somewhere is very high’

But it’s not just the social side of things. People who want to book things for solo time – to recharge their social batteries – are finding they can’t do this either. 

This can be problematic for introverts, like Anna Hamill, who love going out spontaneously.

She says: ‘I’ve found myself not doing anything apart from the odd trip to a coffee shop in the evening because I can’t stand having to think so far ahead. It takes the fun out of doing things when you can’t roam around somewhere and find a lovely little place for lunch.

‘As an introvert, if I’ve had a day where my children have requested a lot of attention from me, I don’t want to go out somewhere that was booked two weeks ago not knowing what state of mind I’d be in.’

Anna explains that she finds it stressful having to choose between ‘going and being surrounded by more people and noise’ when she wants a quiet night in, or feeling like she’s ‘robbed someone else’s chance of going out and cost the business’ if she decides to cancel a booking.

She adds: ‘It feels like I’m letting people down either way (either the people I’m with, because I’m depleted and grumpy, or others who would have taken the space and the business losing out on my custom) and I hate that.

‘Last minute plans are a great option if you’re an introvert. Being an introvert doesn’t mean you’re not sociable, it means you need quiet and time alone to re-energise.

‘If you’ve had that, a quick spontaneous plan to go out somewhere and catch up with friends as well as supporting businesses around you is perfect.

‘But it can’t be planned in advance a lot of the time. It doesn’t feel free to not have that option.’

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