I’ve been thinking a lot about how the world, in light of COVID-19 has been flipped upside down. The movers and shakers have been immobilized. The powerful and the popular pushed aside. If you have been on social media at all you know that the extroverts feel they have been thrown into a desert with no water in sight.
I am an introvert. I need spaces of quiet and solitude to recharge and refocus. Without that I can not survive. In light of that, my career choice of nursing seems sheer madness. On a normal day I am around people all day. I have to be “on” all the time. I have to be ready to care, communicate, educate, calm and perform.
In healthcare, most people are not at their best. I am seeing them because something is wrong. By the time they get to me they have not only had to deal with their illness and uncertainty about their future, they have had to navigate the baffling and infuriating maze of healthcare systems and insurance. By that time I have to become a sort of diffuser, a buffer and a pain absorber to help them manage. Then there are the phone calls, and the computer, and the email.
Extroversion is valued in our culture. The more outgoing, you are, the more you are seen as competent, proactive and a leader. The introverts are portrayed as, shy, wallflowers. We are seen as the side-kicks, and the supporting roles to the stars of the world. We learn very young to observe, work around, and adapt to being an introvert in an extrovert world.
There are many ways that I have learned to manage my space and time. Before and after work my car is a haven. It is my own personal bubble of peace. I think of it as my personal “Cone of Silence”. I can play music, drink some coffee, sing, or not. At work putting away supplies in the storeroom can be a temporary quiet spot. Even though grocery stores can cause sensory overload, I have found a way to manage it, I put in earbuds and listen to a podcast or music.
At this point in time I know you extroverts are not doing okay. Forced confinement, even if you are with family or roommates is not what you need. I expect this is so much harder on you because you have not had the time or resources to adapt to this lifestyle, it was just suddenly thrust upon you. I am sorry that have to learn to cope with what has become an introvert world. Connecting via Zoom or Skype is not the same as being there. There is no replacement for the face-to-face and physical contact.
I’m afraid I don’t have any great advice for you. I just have one request: when the world does get back to some semblance of normal once in awhile think about your introvert friends and family. While you have to deal with this for a little while, they will have to deal with the normal way of things for the rest of their lives.