By Rachel Puryear
When shelter-in-place orders first came down, introverts everywhere seemed collectively well-practiced for the task. In a world that we so often find uncomfortably busy, fast, loud, chatty, hectic, and rushed; it seemed we finally had a chance to take a break. Not that we were any less affected by the unfolding tragedy and horror of the coronavirus than others, nor have we been hurting less than anyone else in the economic crash which has followed.
Nonetheless, in a silver-lining sort of a way, it appeared that (many of us) would be able to enjoy a little peace and quiet. Catch up on reading. Pursue creative passions. Numerous jokes even began circulating about how little the quarantine would actually change the lives of introverts. And how it would be hard for us to gracefully end long Zoom chats, when our extraverted friends know that we don’t really have somewhere else to be.
All people, no matter where they lie on the introversion/extraversion spectrum, need regular human contact and social interaction. We all need intimate social contact with smaller circles of loved ones, and also more extensive social contact with a wider community. Introverts and extraverts have differing styles of socializing, though they both need social fulfillment.
Extraverts likely began feeling the psychological impact of social distancing before most of their introverted friends did. After all, introverts by definition need our alone/small social circle time to recharge, and we probably took longer than extraverts to miss the wider community contact. Nevertheless, introverts will catch up with missing the wider community interaction eventually – and many of us probably already have by now.
Though it has taken us longer to get there, introverts are struggling with social distancing as much as extraverts are.
Introverts may even struggle with social distancing in ways that extraverts do not. Extraverts tend to readily reach out to others to socialize, and to share openly with others what is going on with them. Introverts tend to be reticent, and to allow others to pursue them more than they to do the pursuing.
Social distancing requires a more specific and active effort to stay in touch with others than life before social distancing did. This is where extraverts might actually have an advantage in social distancing – they are already in the habit of being proactive in reaching out to other people. Introverts might also not realize initially that they miss community interaction, and thereby not make enough efforts to stay in touch with more people, and miss the benefits of such. When we are out in the world, lots of people will naturally approach us. But such social facilitation does not occur when everyone stays at home.
Accordingly, I would cast serious doubt on the idea that social distancing is really an introvert’s dream. Yes, we certainly need our down time to recharge, and normal life (especially typical work cultures) often made that difficult for us to attain. We also really do need social interaction with both close friends and lots of others, it’s just that the need for the latter was harder to notice and appreciate before the world changed so dramatically.
To get through the quarantine and stay healthy psychologically, introverts may need to – and I know how this sounds, but – get in the habit of reaching out to others more. And sharing of ourselves more. That’s especially important if you are struggling a lot emotionally, and/or you do not have someone at home that you can talk to (I am lucky to have a loving partner at home). It’s as difficult for me as it is for you. But I promise it won’t hurt you, and it will likely help you. 🙂
Here’s a quote for the day: “Let’s clear one thing up: Introverts do not hate small talk because we dislike people. We hate small talk because we hate the barrier it creates between people.” ~ Laurie Helgoe
Thank you my lovely readers for reading! If this helped you, please share. Be safe, my friends, and stay healthy. Try to help others if you are able, and ask for help if you need it. We will all get through this together. xoxo