The Social Distancing Extrovert

Hi, friends. Writing is one of my go to stress and anxiety reducing processes, so I imagine for once I might actually hit my blog posting goals, what with a global pandemic and self-isolation producing all sorts of internal turmoil.

I’m an extrovert. And even though I have found that I’ve become slightly more introverted with age, that underlying need for external stimulation from other people’s energies is still very much there. And guess what? Kids don’t count. I’m not sure why. I think maybe it has something to do with their constant neediness. So no matter how much energy they are giving out, they seem to be draining just as much, if not more, from me. Which is probably why I have felt more introverted the longer I’ve been a parent. The need for a quiet house occasionally, or at least a quiet space to withdraw too, has become essential.

We’ve been in WV for less than a year, so we are still building relationships and finding our community here, which means that I really haven’t had a lot of external interaction in my weekly schedule. It’s something that I had been thinking I’d like to change, but since it was fairly routine to not have it, you’d think that social distancing wouldn’t have changed much in my life now that I am stuck at home. But it feels different, this not being able to to go out. And the little bit of social interaction that I did have each week is sorely missed. I guess I didn’t realize how much Sunday morning, for instance, meant to me. I miss that chance to smile and say hello and exchange a few words and shake a few hands. 

We are, of course, not completely without outside interaction. My husband, an Episcopal priest, has been working long hours setting up virtual services and other opportunities for people to connect. But it’s not the same. I get a bit of an energy upsurge after virtual meetups, but not nearly as much as in person interactions. I’m aching for human touch, not just physical touch, but eye contact, the mingling of emotions in a group, even the feeling you get when you walk down a crowded street. I never realized before how much I live within the energies of other people, how much I need to feel and see and hear people in order to thrive.

But, maybe it isn’t that I’m not getting any of that energy right now. Maybe what is really bothering me is that I am very much in tune with the energy of the people in my community, but that that energy is overwhelmingly negative. Are the tears in my eyes a response to the anxiety in the air around me, the ache in my heart the fear that everyone is sharing for those they love and care about, the hopelessness in my head an echo of the words that people whisper in the darkness after the children have gone to bed?

Wherever it is coming from, I feel overwhelmed by it right now. I’m realizing that if I don’t find a way to counteract it, I will be swallowed up. There is still hope to be found, if we dig deep enough. Love can counteract that same fear that it has given rise to. There is more than anxiety in the air if we pause long enough to listen to the totality of our world, all the voices, and not just the human ones. Perhaps now is a time when I need to dive down deep within myself to the core. The piece of me that makes me an extrovert is the same piece that gives me the ability to be present without being overwhelmed, to see joy in the tiniest speck of light, and to love optimistically with open hands and heart.

 

5 thoughts on “The Social Distancing Extrovert

  1. These are very, very challenging days, to say the least. I don’t think I am either an extrovert or an introvert, but balanced somewhere in between. Like you my social interactions are limited to when I go to work and/or the grocery store. Some days the lack of social interaction makes me very restless, WordPress and social media are helping somewhat, but are not entirely satisfying. I miss the eyeball to eyeball interactions, the shared jokes, the banter with coworkers etc. etc. So, I feel much like you do. Hang in there, nothing lasts forever, not even pandemics – I hope!

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    1. One of my kids is also an extrovert and struggling as well. The number of times I’ve had to bring him in because other neighbor kids are out and I can’t trust him to maintain 6 feet of distance has been numerous. Poor kid. I have allowed him to call his friends on the phone and that has helped somewhat. Hang in there!

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