As COVID-19 swept through the world and quarantine (or Safer at Home) orders were announced, every introvert was suddenly given permission to just be their natural selves. Stay at home and avoid interacting with people? No problem! That’s what I really wanted to do anyway! In one way, it was a great relief to take a break from socializing, but in another, I worry that it is slowly chipping away at a lifetime of trying to overcome my anxieties.
Learning to “Get Out There”
As an introvert, I have had to push myself my entire life to “get out there” and overcome social anxiety so I can accomplish the things I want to do. I still recall my mother trying to get me to play with other kids and telling me, “Say hi, Candy. Say hi, Candy…” And I would, and then I’d have fun, so I learned I needed to break out of my shell if I really wanted to enjoy life.
Little by little, the more I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, the easier things became. And yes, people still usually describe me as “quiet,” but I have learned how to be loud on occasion (or at least loud enough to be heard). And while I may be quiet, I know I can still be social and friendly and enjoy being around people.
Just the Right Amount of Attention
I will admit that sometimes I draw security from the cosplay thing, because it’s easier to channel the confidence of Wonder Woman if I dress the part. But also sometimes I actually GET anxiety with cosplay because of all the attention. It’s a strange juxtaposition of feelings. It’s the same with anything I do. Like how I want people to read this. But not too many people. A lot of people would be nice. Just enough people to know it was interesting, but nothing viral.
I went semi-viral once with a picture of a shark at our local beach and I did not like the attention. Mostly because the general public can be assholes who make fun of people for things like their unique name. And then there were the crazies who hunted me down to send angry messages as if I were personally responsible for the wrongs on the entire shark population. I had to block a lot of people and I didn’t like it. My world got too loud for a moment.
Finding the Extroverted Introvert Balance
I now strive for a nice balance of socializing and re-charging at home. Every time I commit to an event or put something on the calendar, it comes with a dose of anxiety. It’s a feeling like, “I’m totally looking forward to this thing I don’t want to do, but really want to do!”
Being stuck in quarantine completely cleared my calendar. At first I was sad about all the cancelled events because I had really pushed out of my comfort zone for several of them and was quite proud of myself for doing so. And then a feeling of relief settled in. Everything is cancelled. I don’t have to do anything except stay at home. In fact, I’m being told to stay at home and the rest of the country is doing the same, so for the first time in my life I have ZERO pressure to go out and be social. And not only that, but I’m being applauded for not going anywhere! It’s like an introvert’s dream come true.
There is one little thing that keeps popping up in my head though – You’re going to have to be normal again sometime.
And I’m worried that’s going to feel like starting over. Driving places, talking to strangers, interacting with people and crowds… I’m starting to feel a little rusty. My limited exposure to the general public will most likely intensify my habit of being “quiet.” I am trying to make an effort of staying in touch with friends, family and neighbors. I do actually like people and would like to go out and do things again.
But until all this is over, I’ll happily keep my butt at home. I’ll keep blogging, working on the kids book, sewing masks and entertaining the five-year-old. It makes for a very full day without even going anywhere.
Hope you all are finding your own balance out there and shifting into the “new normal” of social distancing. As much as I am enjoying this staying at home thing, I do look forward to one thing: having the house to myself again some time!