Learning is one of my superpowers. I enjoy discovering something new in this “nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1: 9) world. I’m entering the fourth week of mandatory “stay at home” orders during the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine and decided it’s time to share a few early lessons.
First off, I hope this quarantine will end on April 30. That would mean the number of new cases has stopped rising and the risk of new infections is less. And it would mean I can “move about the cabin” freely.
What is an Introvert?
It’s an urban legend that introverts are shy and don’t make eye contact when they meet people and scurry into a corner when introduced to a new setting.
I’m not a fan of the definition on my usual defining website either. It says an introvert (definition two and according to Psychology) is a person characterized by concern primarily with his or her own thoughts and feelings (opposed to extrovert).
Nope. The wider more accepted definition is a person who is energized by being alone and is drained by interacting with too many people at one time. That’s me.
In light of that definition, a quarantine with my husband and three cats should be totally energizing, right?
That’s what I thought.
Why This Introvert Went Stir Crazy
This is what happened. It rained. So I couldn’t get outside.
Then it was Tuesday. I wanted to go to my bowling league, but that was cancelled because our members are conscientious citizens. This was actually the week before the order to “STAY HOME” came down from our governor.
Fine, but we’re still going to have church because our congregation is small, and we can practice social distancing.
But we didn’t.
There were no trips to the coffee shop with the ladies I meet the first Wednesday of the month. I couldn’t hold my newborn grandson. I had to wave from the porch to friends who were walking by the house.
Maybe it was the fact I couldn’t do the things I wanted. After all, that certainly rubbed me the wrong way as a teenager. But I thought I’d outgrown that tendency.
Truthfully, I’m not much of a digital correspondent. Texts are for quick messages not for connecting in a deep or meaningful way. And Zoom or Skype are fine in a pinch, but they didn’t fill the craving for human contact.
According to this Healthline article, we need eight hugs a day to maintain our emotional health. I’m really NOT a big hugger, but I started glomming on to my husband every other hour. The man thought I was going crazy.
I was. Stir crazy that is.
So what did all this teach me about being an introvert? Here are three things.
1. Choice is Important
Most of the time, I choose to stay home. I have a few things I leave home to do each week – shopping, bowling, church services – but for the most part, I’m happy to be home with just a quick walk to the mailbox and a jaunt around the block to stretch my legs after lunch.
Staying home because I have to is like being grounded as a teenager. Most of the time, I happily cocooned myself in my room reading and writing, but occasionally my friends would have plans and I’d plot how I could escape the punishment or sell the event as something my mom would allow.
2. Interactions are Heartening
I’m thankful for technology. What would I have done without it? Certainly, I would have been irritable much sooner if I had to go three weeks without seeing my beautiful grandchildren and talking to my kids.
But chatting via electronics is not the same as being there. Those Facebook Live video services I watched for three Sundays gave me an excellent dose of truth, but they lacked the personalized interactions my heart craves.
Yes, the introvert doesn’t despise people. She wants to see who she wants to see in limited doses. (Sounds a bit like a cat, doesn’t it?)
3. Mandates Cause Claustrophobia
Then came the dawn of the face mask. At first, they told us only to wear one if you were infected. Why the sudden switch?
More rules? Isn’t it enough that I only leave my house to go grocery shopping once per week? Alright, I take daily walks when the weather permits, too, and that’s part of the permissible activities. As long as I maintain social distancing. The better the weather gets, the more difficult that becomes.
But now that someone has restricted when and where I can go, my lungs are tightening. It’s being locked in the closet by my older siblings all over again.
Let! Me! Out!
What things has this quarantine taught you about yourself?