How Introverts Feel About Social Isolation – A Two Part Essay

Part 1: I have been searching for a reason to officially declare I need to slow down.  Apparently it required a pandemic…

Schools are closed. Jobs are on pause. Work is now done from home. So long kid extra-curriculars.

I have learned the term “social isolation”. It’s encouraged. Being alone (or at least only with your immediate family) is smart thinking. Go do it for 3 weeks.

I am overjoyed. I don’t have to fake appointments to get out of socializing I just can’t swing.  Or deal with the brick of stress I have been carrying on my chest for months cuz I can’t say “No”.  Health officials have said no for me.

It took health officials.

Three weeks ago, I put a reminder on my phone.  It was meant as my past-self to remind my future-self to slow the hell down.  That’s how bad it had got. It reminds me every day. I actually had said my first “No”, pre social isolation.

Now “no” is the norm and my recluse-freak-flag is flying.

I get to clean for the first time in months, hang with my kids, husband and new dog, eat chips and drink spiced rum (my husband declared those essentials and fought the crowds valiantly for us). I get to hide in my basement and work or read or ukulele or nap.

I will also spend that time figuring out how to acceptably use the term “social isolation” after all the restrictions have been lifted.

*****

Part 2: Is anyone else humming REM’s “It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine?”

It’s happening. It’s really happening. Finally all my years of avoiding people and enjoying my own company is paying off. For every single introvert out there, THIS IS OUR TIME.

Our government, doctors and scientists are all totally onboard with what we’ve known to be true our whole lives.

  • Excusing yourself from any and all social functions is healthy.
  • Not touching people or wanting others to touch you makes really good sense.
  • Staying out of crowds could save your life.

They even have a catchy name for it, “social distancing.” It’s exactly what we’re all supposed to be doing! If this was a high school situation, WE would be the cool kids. What a topsy-turvy world we are living in.

But in all seriousness, I deeply feel for my extroverted friends. Being forced not to engage with other human beings I hear is torture for them. Living without constant social plans, small talk to be left alone with your own thoughts can be terrifying. Spending endless hours by yourself reading or enjoying a hobby is a foreign skill to many of them. What will they do?

Okay, okay, I know it seems like I’m poking fun, and I am, but I also get it. I actually have a daughter who’s an extrovert and after two days at home she is already getting squirrelly and constantly trying to engage me in conversation. (The key is not to make eye contact and run the other way.)

But in the interest of preserving her sanity and mine, here are a few helpful tips for all of you extroverts out there to survive “social distancing.”

TV is Your Friend– Watch it, it’s fun. There are people doing stuff on it and you can yell at the screen like you’re interacting with them.

Look Out Your Window – It’s kinda like tv, but with real people and glass between you. My grandmother particularly enjoyed yelling things to people walking by regarding their outfits and life choices.

Go Through the 10,000 F’ing Pictures on Your Phone – Is it me or do extroverts take like way too many pictures? Here’s an idea, cull those suckers so the next time you insist on showing them to me I don’t have to feign I’m enjoying looking at them for so long.

Hand Puppets –If you get desperate for conversation and no one is answering your numerous calls or texts, an old sock, some button or even dried up raisins, can become your best friend. You laugh, but a good puppet show can never be undervalued.

Adopt all the Dogs – We all know dogs are amazing company and way better then people. And as far we know right now, dogs cannot get or transmit Covid-19. So I think the answer for lonely extroverts out there is pretty obvious…adopt all the dogs.

But in all seriousness, stay inside and stay safe. And now I’m off to make some hand puppets…

Photo by Elena Koycheva on Unsplash

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