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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Purposeful (Over)Planning for Managing Anxiety

Like most people, I have good days and bad days when it comes to managing my stress and anxiety. The COVID-19 outbreak situation definitely spiked my anxiety for a few weeks – and still does on occasion. My son and I had a three-day weekend for Spring Break that began March 13, and basically we never went back to work/daycare – from then on I found myself working remotely from home.

The way my anxiety tends to manifest itself, is that I get overwhelmed. I think about all the things I need to do, and I feel paralyzed, like I can’t start on any of them. And when I sit down to do one thing, I can’t concentrate because I am worrying about all the other things on my to-do list. I have a hard time being present in the moment.

When I started working from home, I really had a hard time balancing work time, parenting time, and my own “me” time. I felt guilty that my son was watching a lot more television, and then I’d also feel guilty that I couldn’t focus on work without getting interrupted frequently (three-year-olds can be a little needy at times…) Then at the end of the day, I’d feel frustrated that I didn’t get to do anything just for myself – I’d feel worn out from interacting with people (albeit my own family) all day and not getting some much-needed alone time.

So how did this look the first few weeks at home? Well, it looked like me feeling really frustrated about all of it and getting angry and annoyed at everything. To summarize: not good.

I began to see that I really needed quiet, alone time to myself to recharge – typical for an introvert like myself. But what I found is that if I didn’t schedule this time specifically on the calendar, it just wouldn’t happen.

This eventually led to my husband and I deciding to purposefully plan out each evening – not only was I going to schedule my alone time, but we also decided to schedule other things, like family game nights, craft nights, pizza/movie nights… Our weekly schedule is jam-packed – honestly I’ve never been so meticulously scheduled with my time as I have while sheltering-in-place. You might think that scheduling almost every hour of the day would be stressful or limiting, but I have found it to be quite the opposite – it’s freeing.

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Dear Facebook: there’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you…

I’ve had in mind to do this for a while, but I kept putting it off. Recently, however, the little Jiminy Cricket I have inside has been working harder and harder to get my attention about this (that’s my conscience for you non-Pinnochio fans out there)So here it is, my break-up letter to Facebook:
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Dear Facebook,

You’ve been a good friend all this time (it’s hard to believe it’s been 14 years!) When we first met, I didn’t really like you – you seemed a bit too trendy for me – but I caved and quickly found out just how easy it would be for me to like you a whole lot. You were very charming! I was at the perfect stage in my life, being a freshman in college, for you to be totally appealing.

It was fun to watch my friend count increase, to share my pictures with the world, and to be able to look at pictures of other people without them knowing it (though I mostly only did that with one person, and he is now my husband!)
[Yes that’s right kids, Facebook stalking sometimes does work!]

Maybe it was the shiny newness of social media, or the fact that I was so young, but I remember you (Facebook) being a place just to have fun. It was fun to reconnect with old friends, fun to share silly pictures of dogs or cats – and remember poking?!

But Facebook, to be honest, you haven’t been that much fun lately. Recently after spending time together, I don’t come away with many fun or happy feelings. In fact, I usually feel angry or sad, or perhaps even jealous sometimes. It doesn’t make sense to point fingers or assign blame – I think both of us have changed over the years. I’m just not sure we’re compatible anymore.

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