Shhh, do you hear that?
No? Don’t hear anything?
That’s right. It’s the sound of nothing. It’s the rise of the introverts.
We’ve all been instructed to stay home as much as possible, to practice social distancing, to lay low and wait out this pandemic as best as we can. For some, this is a great sacrifice. Being forced to be a homebody may not be fun for those who thrive on social interaction. But for others, this is a welcome relief.
If you’re an introvert, you’ve likely been practicing for this moment your whole life, unaware that your special set of skills would actually be put to the test. Being cooped up at home? Check. Binge-watching like nobody’s business? Check. Declining social activities? Check. And now, declining social activities free from guilt or FOMO because they’ve all essentially been canceled anyway? Check, check, check. For the introverts, this is bliss.
Okay, maybe it’s not bliss.
Actual bliss wouldn’t involve all this uncertainty and anxiety, or the fear of an invisible enemy, a virus and its carriers lurking around every corner. The stores would still be open and we would be able to go to them if we wanted to, although we’d be hurrying back home to the sofa, with Netflix or a book waiting for us. The groceries would still be fully stocked, and we wouldn’t worry about running out of snacks.
In all seriousness, I don’t think any of us, introverts included, would have picked events to unfold the way they did this past week. My introversion and anxiety tend to go hand-in-hand, so while I’m always happy to stay home and will gladly cancel plans, I’m drowning in the uncertainty of the situation, waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’d like to be home and scrolling endlessly through social media without being reminded of the ominous virus at every waking moment, thank you very much. And I’ll add that personally, being trapped at home with two itty-bitties, trying to keep them quiet while my husband works remotely, and trying to squeeze in a few hours of my own work, on top of housework that seems to have multiplied with us all home, doesn’t necessarily equate to fun.
In another lifetime, pre-kids, I would take this time to tackle my never-ending “to be read” list, or watching movie after movie, or experimenting with baking, or scrubbing out every last cupboard, but that’s not the case. This isn’t the introvert vacation of my dreams. This is reality, and it’s survival-parenting, and it’s rejoicing at bedtime just like any other regular day. Suddenly, my home, my absolute favorite place to be, is feeling less like a preferable choice and more like a prison, though I’m practicing gratitude and trying to count my blessings in the middle of it all. I miss the closeness of my support system and village; I miss hearing about my child’s day at preschool; I miss going to work and interacting with other adults.
When this is over, I may just embrace my limited sense of extroversion a tad bit more. I may go to that gathering or stay awhile to talk or hold that hug a little longer whenever we’re allowed to be closer than six feet to each other. Until then, I’ll try to remember how much I really, truly do enjoy staying home… since there are not many other places to be.