introvert looking out window wistfully

Tips for Introverts Coming Out of the Pandemic

It’s been 14 months (or longer, depending on what part of the world you’re in) that we’ve been living in a pandemic. 14 months of being acutely aware of our personal space, washing our hands, and largely avoiding other humans.

With the new CDC recommendations for vaccinated people, life is moving closer and closer to “normal.” (I just saw that Disney World dropped their outdoor mask requirement today!)

This is exciting news, and we’re all obviously ready to feel like we can do the things we want to do without fear of catching COVID or having to wear a mask or social distance.

However, as an introvert, I have found myself feeling a bit overwhelmed as we move back into “normal” life.

Over the past two months, I had three weekends in a row where I had plans, like real plans to hang out with people or travel. It started with a trip to Fossil Rim Wildlife Center one weekend, then the next weekend I helped host a baby shower for a close friend, and then the weekend after that my parents came into town for a visit.

All of that was fun and good, but I was looking forward to enjoying the upcoming weekend quietly at home. But by the time the weekend got there, it was somehow (I say that tongue in cheek) full of plans to do things with people! I have a coworker I’m watching an anime show with, and I had invited her to come over to watch a few episodes. We’ve started going back to church in person, so we had worship on Sunday morning, and then we also got invited to a small group church gathering that night. Then we had some friends we hadn’t seen in a while who asked us if we wanted to have dinner together… and so without even trying that hard, my quiet “no plans” weekend was gone.

It may sound like I’m complaining about having friends who want to do stuff with me, or being able to resume activities in public. I’m not – again, those are all great things that we’ve been waiting to do for the past 14 months!

But I will say that going through this pandemic, especially the shut down, made me realize how much of an introvert (and also a homebody) I am. I enjoyed the slower pace of life. I enjoyed more time with my family. I enjoyed the simplicity of it all.

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How Do You Thrive?

I recently had a conversation with a friend about the differences between surviving, living, and thriving. My friend used the phrase “abundant life” instead of thriving, but we decided that they could mean close to the same thing. 

The last three years of my life, I would say I have been in “survival mode.” What do I mean by this? I mean making it to the end of the day, but not being sure if I can do it again tomorrow. I mean being tired all the time, wondering how many more minutes there are in the day before I can lie down. I mean getting the bare minimum done and not having time for things that might be fun or life-giving. Doing the urgent-only stuff, not getting to make time for stuff that is important. 

That sounds pretty bleak when I describe it like that. And okay, not every moment of the past three years has been like that, but there’s certainly been seasons like that, and when you’re in times like that, they seem to last forever. I may have walked the line between surviving and living, but I certainly don’t think I’ve made it to “thriving” very often in the past three years.

Three and a half years ago I had a baby, and obviously life has been different ever since. Two and a half years ago I started a new career, and a few months after that, I began online graduate school. I’ve been getting by, pushing myself farther than I thought I could go, being braver than I thought I could be, but it’s been very tiring. 

As I near the end of my graduate program, I’m beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. And I’m starting to wonder if I could move into a time of thriving. What would that look like?

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It’s Scary to Love You

I hit a breaking point today.

This was a rough week. Calvin got a fever Monday night, and has not been able to return to daycare the rest of this week. That means Mommy and Daddy needed to take off work to stay home with the little guy. His fever was gone Wednesday, so I thought we were in the clear, but it returned Thursday.

Thursday was also the day Dean woke up feeling awful and ended up being diagnosed with strep throat. So Mommy and Daddy both missed the entire day of work Thursday, and Mommy was busy trying to take care of both Calvin and Daddy the whole day.

Friday morning (today) I finally got Calvin in to see the doctor. Turns out he probably has something similar to what Dean has, so he’s on antibiotics. But the doctor also noticed a rash and wanted Calvin to get blood work done just to check on a few things. Every other time Calvin’s needed blood work, it’s always been a prick on the foot.

But not today – I should have suspected something when we were asked to go to the “lab” across the street. I went into said lab expecting for him to get a prick, and they pull out the needles, vials, and all the trimmings to do a full-out blood drawing from his arm. I am not good with having blood drawn, sometimes I start to get faint and black out. It didn’t help that I wasn’t mentally prepared for this, and it certainly didn’t help that I was worried about Calvin – he’s too little for me to explain what is about to happen to him.

They stick the needle in his arm – he’s on my lap and I’m holding his legs still while 2 nurses are holding his arms. He doesn’t cry, but they also can’t get any blood. I start to get dizzy and start seeing spots. I tell the nurses that I think I’m starting to black out – which was also unexpected for me – now I know that I have the potential to black out not only when I am giving blood, but when others are as well. (You learn something new every day!) Maybe it didn’t help that I was sitting in the chair…

The nurses have me lay down on the bed and they hold Calvin for me. They call in a third person and decide to try to get blood from his other arm. This time, he starts crying. I can see them moving the needle around in his arm, trying to find the vein. No such luck. I tell the nurses that maybe we should quit and try another day.

They give me the option to try a finger prick, although because the blood clots fast it might not work. We decide to try, although now looking back I think I should have said no… The prick happens, and Calvin is crying again. They try to squeeze as much blood out of him as they can, but turns out, it wasn’t enough. So we leave, having endured all that, for nothing.

I get in the car, and now Mommy (that’s me in case you haven’t figured out who “Mommy is”) is the one crying. I had been overwhelmed this week already and this was the final straw on the camel’s back. I also have been neglecting my daily affirmations and meditations, yes I know, shame on me…

By the time we get home, Calvin is fine. He wants to go out and play in the backyard. He’s laughing and smiling and finding twigs and leaves to play with. But Mommy is still having a hard time.

I know that this experience was harder for me than it was for Calvin – and I know being a parent means many more experiences like that. Everything hard and painful that Calvin experiences, or will experience, hurts me too. And it’s scary. I think about the high school shooting that happened this past week in Florida, and it scares me. How can I send my kid to school when things like this are happening all over the place? I feel traumatized from a bad doctor’s office experience – I can’t imagine the level of trauma that the parents of those kids are feeling… and that scares me. There’s so much potential for hurt and pain – it is scary to love someone so much…

But having someone to love that much is also a blessing – and I know I have a lot to be thankful for. And even though I’m scared about things that I can’t control and I hate feeling helpless, God asks me to trust him with all of that.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 – Give thanks in all circumstances…

Romans 12:12 – Let your hope make you glad. Be patient in times of trouble and never stop praying.

Philippians 4:6-7 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God. And the peace of God … will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 

I hope if you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed this week, that you will remember God’s promises for you – and I hope you have someone you can share your fears and hopes and dreams with. If you don’t, please feel free to leave me a comment or private message in the “Contact” section of my blog. I would love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading, friends.