April 29, 2020

An Introvert’s Ode to Isolation.

Relephant read: Elephant’s Continually updated Coronavirus Diary. ~ Waylon


Putting an introvert in isolation is like putting a baby in her crib with her favorite blankie and bottle, surrounded by her favorite toys, and then soaking her binkies in sugar water.

Go ahead and isolate me. I’ll be just fine.

I’ve been asked to stay home—my favorite place—with my favorite people? Okie dokie!

You want me to stock my fridge and wine shelves so I don’t have to go out into the world to see other people? No problem.

I have to drink alone, meaning I don’t have to worry about awkward encounters with certain people? Sounds good.

You mean to tell me that no one will randomly knock on my door? Is that a promise?

Can I also assume that my ex has nothing going on, so he won’t create any drama in my life? Fantastic!

Suddenly, all of the pressure from my socially complicated life has been turned off. All of the drama is gone. No more accidental run-ins with people I don’t care to see. No more forced conversations at the grocery store. I don’t have to dye my hair or get Botox. I don’t have to worry if my nails aren’t done just right; I can wear what I want.

Not having to talk to anyone has been easy, because if I struggled to find things to talk about before the quarantine, now it’s a nearly impossible task. I have permission to be myself, and I don’t even have to apologize for it. It’s been somewhat of a relief.

Yeah, I admit that part of the relief I’m feeling is directly related to a tough year. 2019 will go down in the books as a bad one for my social calendar, that’s for sure. The pandemic hit right about the time when I needed to reset anyway. It’s given me a chance to think about relationships and to set intentions.

Introverts reset by being alone, and the isolation has been a welcomed time to breathe. I hope I can emerge rested, with a clear mind about how I intend to live the rest of my year and the rest of my life—and to put 2019 behind me.

The hope that I will come out of this pandemic a born-again-extrovert is highly unlikely, but perhaps I will have stocked up on enough “alone time” that when all of those extroverts come knocking again, they won’t drain my energy with one single interaction.

Maybe I’ll have more appreciation for the people who took the time to check on me, even if I didn’t check on them first. And maybe I’ll pick up where I left off with all of the beautiful people in my life.

I’m telling myself that everyone else, like me, can’t wait to clink their wine glass against mine and get together so we can get back to solving the world’s problems as we help each other navigate parenthood, careers, and love.

Yes, I tried to participate in an “internet happy hour,” but when my internet kept crashing, I gave up. It was difficult anyway. Trying to be heard over the other voices and stories, and trying to feel connection without eye contact was tricky, to say the least. I have a hard enough time being heard in real life, let alone trying to compete with delayed interjection and background noise.

In an internet happy hour, no one can join me in a quiet corner to hash out the really hard sh*t in life, or to whisper that I’m understood. That’s the kind of happy hour that makes me happy.

I know it’s not healthy, even for us introverts, to be alone this much. As much as introverts need time alone, we also need human connection. Isolation gives way for over-thinking, which opens the door for anxiety to slide in. Yes, my anxiety has returned, like a silent ruler controlling my thoughts and putting pressure on my head throughout the day and night. It’s a sneaky little bastard, that anxiety.

Okay fine. I may have exaggerated the situation a teensy bit—you know, with the sugar binky thing.

I miss my friends. I really do. I want to get back to juggling happy hours, birthday gatherings, and “book clubs.” I want to feel that connection with my friend when I know she has really heard me. And I want to see her eyes well up with tears as she tells me about her own struggles and joys. I can’t wait to hug them all and tell them I’ve missed them. It will be great to catch up over dinner and drinks.

But when this is all over, I will also miss my unapologetic alone time—this, I know. So, when my yearned for, soon-to-be-recovered social hours end, I’ll be just as excited to go back home to my crib…and isolate.

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