In the beginning of this necessary social-distancing mandate everyone joked, “Introverts are made for this.” You’re asking us to sit at home and not leave for months? WE GOT THIS.
We knew our extroverts would be challenged in this weird new world of isolation. My husband tells people he has a “scorching case of extroversion.” He connects with friends every day, he chats with strangers waiting in line for coffee, he even had a 10 minute conversation with the bank teller about how the new online banking trend is impacting her job. Without this constant social connection, he’s sitting in the front seat of the struggle bus.
As a card-carrying introvert, I silently celebrated deleting everything off my calendar. I’m like a cell phone battery: I get drained when I’m in big groups of people for too long, and I recharge by sitting on my couch alone reading a book. Let me make this clear: I love people. I love being around my friends and family. I can laugh and tell jokes but when my battery alert flashes I have to get to my charging station (in sweatpants alone on the couch.)
My New Normal
Here’s the thing, as an introvert under “Stay at Home” orders, I’m never really alone. Before this pandemic, my husband and I worked from home but in different parts of the house. We’d go hours without seeing each other. I could work in silence and recharge all day. When my kids bounded in from school I was ready to run homework management and carpool to sports practices like a champ. I could chat away at dinner and even have a dance party as we washed dishes.
But our new normal is making it hard for me to recharge.
As I type this, my sweet 10-year-old is laughing with his teacher and classmates in their morning zoom class. I love the sound of their giggles, but soon he’ll need some help navigating into the website for his classwork. My daughter is working independently in her room, but she’ll be down for a break soon making conversation as she makes her lunch.
Trust me, I love these little interactions. I get teary-eyed thinking of how soon they will leave the nest and take these tiny moments with them. These aren’t the memories you write in a diary, but they are what stitch together a relationship. I know this. But I’m still in desperate need of some alone time.
So yes, it’s time to check on your introverts. Especially if they have a house full of family.
Learning to Cope
We’re hacking our way into a new routine as a family. Part of this new normal is finding a way to create space for each other when we can’t truly be alone. Here’s what I’m doing to charge my introvert battery:
- Prioritize Yourself. I’ve told my family, I need to put on my oxygen mask first. You know, the flight safety briefing you get before a plane takes off? The flight attendants tell parents: in case of an emergency, you can’t help your kid if you pass out from oxygen deprivation. Put your mask on first. I can’t be a good wife and mother if I haven’t taken care of myself.
- Get Outside. I’m taking short walks (alone) early in the morning and after dinner. This allows me time to decompress, process, and recharge my batteries in silence.
- Set Boundaries. I’ve posted “office hours” near my work space. I’m trying to mirror the kids’ online classes but they change daily. This allows me to focus better.
- Hide Sometimes. I am not embarrassed to say I read a book in my closet the other day. I disappeared for 30 minutes before I heard the “MOM, MOM, MOM, MOOOOOOOOOOMMMM” calls. It was just the break I needed.
Are you an introvert? How are you handling this new normal? Tell me your tips.