For the Introverts

This post is for all the introverts out there.

I know a lot about being an introvert. That’s because I am one. Hanging out at home has been no hardship. On nice days, I may venture outside to enjoy nature—by myself. And frigid, snowy days such as today? Give me a cup of tea, a warm blanket, and a good book. I’ll take my socialization vicariously as I turn the pages. Yes, social distancing is made for introverts.

There’s just one problem. It’s too easy. I’m too content.

My job has mostly ground to a halt. While I normally work from home, right now there’s just no work to be done. The house stays clean with just the two of us, and meals for two are easy to fix—we don’t eat that much. It’s too soon to plant my garden. And while I have plenty of long-term projects that could keep me busy, I’m finding that I have zero motivation to do any of them. It’s too easy to coast.

There are no deadlines. No one is anxiously waiting for me to do much of anything. Weather permitting, I could go birding, but “non-essential” travel is being discouraged, and I’m hard put justifying driving to walk somewhere else when I can easily walk my own neighborhood just by stepping out the door.

The more I focus on life at home, the more the outside world seems unavailable, distant. I did the laundry and discovered that all I’ve worn this week are t-shirts, old jeans, and yoga pants. I laughed when I first read this on Facebook, but it’s true:

UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE THE DAYS OF THE WEEK
ARE NOW CALLED THISDAY, THATDAY, OTHERDAY,
SOMEDAY, YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND NEXTDAY.

And so I find myself retreating into myself. I read. I pray. I putter. Otherwise, I accomplish little. And inspiration for blog-writing? Hah. Not happening.

This should bother me. Sometimes it does. Then I grab my Kindle and check out another book from the library.

After checking up on some single friends who live alone, I realize that I’m not the only one who is withdrawing from life. They’re more than bored—they’re depressed.

Apparently, even introverts are social creatures.

Pete, the extrovert, is doing fine. He’s as busy as ever. Yes, he’s working from home, but he spends a lot of time on the phone or in yet another Zoom meeting. When he isn’t working, he’s catching up on his “honey do” list—with plenty of trips to the hardware store. When we decided to heed the advice to pick one person to be the “household shopper,” he immediately claimed the role. If he’s outside shoveling the latest spring snow off the driveway, he catches up with the neighbors across the street. And while he’s careful to maintain the required distance from others, when we go for walks he stops to chat with everyone we pass.

I need to watch and learn.

It takes a lot of effort emotionally, but if I do nothing, I’m likely to turn into a grouchy recluse. Therefore, I’m making a few “social distanced resolutions” to carry me through:

  • I will set goals for myself. Someone suggested waking up and listing three things you want to accomplish that day. I like that idea. It keeps me from having goals so large I never get started on them, and I love the feeling of accomplishment when I succeed in crossing all three off my list.
  • I will set up a weekly online “date” with my closest friends. Many of my friends are still working, either from home, or in essential roles, and I’ve let our unmatched schedules become an insurmountable obstacle. But we managed to get together before the pandemic, and surely we can find some time to get online and hang out.
  • Any day the temperature is at least 45 degrees, I’m going for a long walk. The fresh air makes me happier, and besides, with the gym closed I really need the exercise!
  • Every day, I will find a way to bless at least one other person. (Ideas appreciated!) Focusing outward is an excellent cure for moping.

I’d love to hear from you—what are you doing to maintain sanity while the virus keeps us apart?

2 thoughts on “For the Introverts

  1. I am an engineer who works for a manufacturer who is classified “essential” to keep the factory open. I have been working in the office, mostly alone. The people who normally populate the office are working from home. (I don’t have enough bandwidth out of my rural DSL provider to support any real work from home. Not much useful can happen on line at 300kB/s.) Coffee pots, microwaves – anything that looks like it might be touched by multiple people – all declared off limits. While there, I end up being the arms and legs of those who need to touch something where they are not. This on top of my normal responsibilities, which form quite a pile. I’m not bored yet. That’s for sure.

  2. The reason I call my friend, Leslie with questions about birds and plants is not because I can’t find the answers anywhere else, but because I really like my conversations with Leslie. I always find it awkward to call someone just to say “So, hi, how are you doing? I miss you.” It seems like it is too open ended and perhaps suggests a lengthy conversation at a deeper level that someone might be in the mood for. But if I have a factual question that I know someone has the expertise to answer, I’d rather reach out with that question, and then go on to chat about feelings and family if they have time. What do you think, especially from a personal or generally from an introvert’s point of view?

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