An Introvert’s Tips on Surviving Social Distancing
My dreams have come true! Never did I imagine that this day would come. Due to the increase in confirmed cases of COVID-19 43 states and the District of Columbia have issued stay-at-home orders. States like California and New York have cancelled everything requesting everyone to stay inside! No gatherings of more than 10 people. Stay six feet away from everyone. No school, crowded volleyball tournaments, or 10-hour Sunday soccer games. No parties, no play dates, no awkward small talk with strangers. Introducing (drum roll please) Social distancing!! An introvert’s dream, but an extrovert’s nightmare.
An Introvert’s Reaction to Social Distancing
Three days into this dream, I came home from work and my 11-year-old met me in the garage. He was like a puppy eager to get off his leash. Stuck in the house all day he practically leapt into my arms begging, “mommy can I go to the park and play with my friends?” Still wrapping his head around social distancing, he didn’t understand that kids were not allowed to play at the playgrounds anymore. “No son. We can’t go!” His response caused my heart to break into pieces. Big, voluptuous tears streamed down his cheeks. He ached to hang out with his buddies.
What alarmed me was that he was my most introverted child. After four days on lockdown, with eight weeks to go, it was getting hard for everyone. Introverts, extroverts, children, adults, teachers, health care workers, preachers and grocery store clerks. From the left to the right the east to the west…the struggle was getting real.
While this is challenging for all, it’s no secret that introverts have the upper hand when it comes to surviving social distancing. While extroverts thrive on social connection, introverts have always thrived in solitude. So if you don’t mind, as an introvert myself, I’d like to share with you a few tips on how to maximize, or at least survive this time that we are apart.
1. Take Advantage of the Time
Every introvert knows that times of solitude are rare. Ten minutes between soccer practices, weekend trips out of town, they all come to an end long before we’re ready. But the truth is we’re never really ready.
That being said, we know the importance of taking advantage of this time. There are things you can do now that you can’t do when the world picks up speed again. There are things you can accomplish now that you’ve been trying to accomplish for weeks, months, or years, but could never seem to find the time. Do those things now!
I usually wish I had more time to rest and restore my body and my mind. So rest, is my priority. I sleep longer for physical rest, journal more for emotional rest, pray more for spiritual rest, and play more for social rest. I sit in the sun with my kids, enjoy lazy Sunday afternoons, read my favorite book, and sip a cup of tea.
Rest is hard to come by in the normal pace of life. For as long or short as this time may be, resting is what I do. What will you do? Whatever you do, make sure you take advantage of the time, it will be over before you know it.
2. Re-evaluate Your Life
When we stop moving at breakneck speed we can re-evaluate our lives. Busyness is a great way to cover up the cracks in the floor. When my life slowed down I became aware that most of what I do is for the purpose of pleasing others. I spent little or no time pouring into any of my own interests or hobbies. I started to wonder if the reason for my chronic exhaustion was not because of doing too much, but because of doing too little of what made my heart happy.
While I am taking to re-evaluating my life, others are re-evaluating their marriages. According to an article in The New Yorker entitled, “To Have and to Hold, in Quarantine and in Health,” when quarantine restrictions were lifted across the country of China the divorce rate spiked. Lawrence Birnbach, a psychoanalyst who wrote the book How to Know if It’s Time to Go, predicts that as the pandemic subsides in the U.S. we too will see an increase in the divorce rate. Laura Wasser, a Los Angeles divorce attorney, says, “A quarantine experience, particularly where there are underlying issues of resentment and poor communication, could be devastating to a marital relationship.”
I believe this is due in part to the fact that when life slows down, husbands and wives may realize that, without a busy after school schedule, they have nothing else to talk about. This time is giving us the opportunity to re-evaluate our familial and marital relationships. Now, you can see the cracks in the kitchen tiles and the chipped paint on the bedroom walls. They were always there, but you sped right by them. I encourage you to use this time to find to the cracks, the holes, the ignored issues, and give them attention.
3. Think Creatively
This time has also made the majority of our traditional gathering practices out of reach. Physical school buildings, church buildings, soccer complexes, workout facilities, and malls are off limits. But people still need to be educated. People still need to worship. They still need sports. People still need to be fit. They still need to shop. In the void, the creatives should rise. If ever there was a time to think outside the box, it’s now, because we desperately need a way to connect.
I’m immensely inspired by mom’s who turn living rooms into classrooms to make sure their kids graduate. Pastors who have crafted sanctuaries through cameras to bring hope to people trapped at home. Children creating driveway chalk art to encourage families as they walk by. Trainers sculpting online workouts with couch cushions and water jugs to help people stay fit. Designers promoting clothing lines to keep people dressed to the nines. The absence of our traditional gathering places has paved the way for creatives not to give up, but to innovate.
It’s quite possible that these creative innovations will not only help us survive our current situation, but stay with us as part of our new normal.
Lessons From Being Alone Together
This is a stressful time for all of us. No one could have predicted that we would be facing these hardships today. Most of us were expecting to be celebrating weddings, going to concerts, planning tropical cruises, walking for graduation, and playing championship basketball games. Instead, we are doing none of those things. We are at home. Alone. But be encouraged. For we are alone, together.
One day all of this will come to an end and life will return to the way we’ve always known it. In the meantime, we can learn from introverts, the experts in social distancing, to take advantage of this time, reevaluate our lives, as well as use this time to think and produce creatively.