Many people think I’m extroverted, simply because I am genuinely interested in people and am comfortable in social situations. However, self-isolation is a relief because I’m an introvert – I recharge my “batteries” in private.
Simplistically, extroverts recharge in the company of others.
if you’re someone, like my husband, who is an extrovert and thrives on social connection, isolation is particularly difficult. He has spent an inordinate amount of time on phone calls – needing to hear other people’s voices – and calls out greetings to neighbors from across the street.
Note: My experiences and suggestions are EXAGGERATED because of my fibromyalgia/ME, Chronic Fatigue I’m physically depleted to begin with and overly sensitive to social interactions of the “normal kind” which drain me to the point of exhaustion. Many people who are introverted and/or have life-altering medical conditions cope a bit differently than those who are extroverted and better thrive on personal and community connections.
My personal experience in isolation:
Zoom meetings can be overwhelming: Too many people, too much to track, people talking over each other or too long silences. During the last Zoom meeting I stopped my video so no one could see me. It helped me not be concerned how I was visually responding, even if it might have bugged others. I excused myself and logged off before the meeting was over when I noticed my attention & physical energy was flagging.
Phone conversation have long been exhausting to me and I’m relieved when the phone doesn’t ring. E-mail is my chosen means of communication because there is a one-way conversation – no need to think on my feet, and can time my responses for when I have energy and focus.
Exercise is a solitary experience. I walk Freddie, our dog, late at night, when no one is out and there’s no demand to interact with neighbors. Freddie likes being able to sniff at his leisure and not have to patiently wait for human conversations to stop to resume his exploration.
Luckily, we introverts are no longer labeled as anti-social. Research by social scientists have found that while some people can’t get enough of spending time with large social groups, others find the experience more of a mixed bag: usually gratifying, but ultimately draining.
If you have a friend or relative who’s introverted:
- When you reach out keep your conversations short.
- Don’t pressure people to stay longer in a virtual hangout than they want to be there.
- Ask what their preferred means of communication are.
- Be patient if your contact doesn’t respond back quickly.
- If a friend starts wrapping it up, just wish them well. (It will make them more likely to want to reach out again.)
And MOST OF ALL Don’t take any of this personally
We’re all in this together, even if us introverts want to be alone much of the time!
My caveat: There are people, all over the world, who would give anything to be able to be with the people they love – people hospitalized, others unable to hold new born grandchildren, isolated from parents, fearful of infecting others. Loneliness is also an epidemic. We all want to make sure our friends and loved ones are physically or emotionally OK. Embracing community in a times of hardship is one of the best and most universal qualities of humanity. Some introverts are my best friends. I am, grateful for them and my introverted life.
I’d like to know how you cope socially in these unsettling times.