Post-Covid Self-care for Introverts and Others

June 25, 2021

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  • Hi Max,

    I was in a 6-week lockdown in New Zealand, out in the countryside. The weather was beautiful, I went on walks every day, saw people cycling/walking singly or in family group – we chatted at a 2m distance – and it was bliss.

    For the first time I felt I was truly on holiday: no work (but still getting paid), no pressures, just me and the possibility of attending to my own needs, whims, and wants without feelings of guilt. Read all day or knit all day, in the sunshine or on the couch in front of the fire, talk to people via Zoom (that was a novelty!), supermarket shopping online… It sounds terribly selfish, but it was such a deep need that I didn’t even know I had. And it gave me a glimpse of what my life could be like – this need to be self-sufficient and independent, coupled with the need to help others and be there for them, but this time, on my terms. Wow. Such a revelation.

    Thank you for opening up this discussion. It has allowed me to actually put into words what I have been feeling for a while.

    Until next time!
    Patricia

  • Minus watching the tragedy unfold around me and the fear of illness and death, I totally enjoyed the peaceful isolation of the last 16 months. I think I will will remain here a while longer. Will definitely enjoy outdoor concerts, attending family events, grocery shopping and picking out my own food but I will also continue to enjoy the long weekend days of knitting.

    • We in Canada are not out of it yet… second immunization seem to be just ramping up now, for many people. Yet our provincial (equivalent to state) government wants to open everything up on July 1 (date equivalent to your 4th)! Including the return of the world-famous Calgary Stampede (July 9 – 18) with its huge musical events, crowded midway, and rodeo. Many of us feel that this is a recipe for disaster, and will certainly not be attending. As for the introvert/extrovert question, both my husband and I lean towards the former. This past year has been my first of retirement, and I have settled in to really enjoying all the freedoms that has brought! We will both be still wearing masks for some time yet. I don’t care what other people think about that.

  • Normally I consider myself an extrovert, but smack dab in the middle of the pandemic I was presented with cancer. The pandemic allowed me to continue to work with rare exception, however cancer necessitated more intense self care. It also helped to crystallize my priorities (family, friends, faith) and showed me how kind most people truly are.

    • Best of luck and good wishes to you! My cancer experience was 16 years ago, and I believe I emerged stronger, and more attentive to self-care, from that challenge. I hope you, too, will soon be beyond it with full health and happiness and a long life ahead.

  • Oh, Max, thank you thank you for this. I’m an extreme introvert, and I loved lockdown. As you said, the whole world seemed to be on my wavelength for once!
    Besides loving peace and quiet and no-people, I loved having my hubby (an extrovert) home all the time; it was really bliss, but I had to be careful with whom I shared that feeling.
    Now, I would like to say I’m adjusting to back-to-normal, but instead I’m desperately trying to hold on to some of lockdown. Your words almost made me weep, they were so insightful. Thanks to you I’ll try to rearrange my thinking about returning to “normal”.
    Peace.

  • Thank you for saying this! I have found that being with large groups of people is exhausting, even when it’s people I love and want to be with. I am trying to keep journaling and yoga and sketching in my days, but external pressure to do other things is hard to resist.

  • I’d become isolated after illness and had just started mentally preparing myself to get out more, I even made a list of things to do (museum, knitting club, getting on a city bus to anywhere etc) titled “GET OUT!” when covid caused lockdowns and restrictions lasting a year.
    It was a bit of a relief but now I feel it’s time, I’ve had a year to ponder and perfect my list with things to do, routines and new habits to support me. I’m ready.

  • Raising introvert flag here (you should see my Myers Briggs score…)! Pandemic lockdown was anxiety producing, but a totally different anxiety than social interaction. For me social anxiety is pretty specific – say wrong thing! Wear wrong thing! Do something dumb! But pandemic anxiety was much more nebulous and pervasive. So I was both contented in lockdown, and more anxious, which as I type it seems a little weird but there you have it…
    And now I’m visiting friends, just a small group (3, with an addition of 1 tonight) and it is exhausting, but I’m having a really good time. Which just goes to show once again that life is full of contradictions.

    And PS to MDK – I’m VERY happy the comments are working smoothly again!

  • The company I work for was open and working for the entire time. Being an accounting firm they considered themselves essential because it was tax season when the first shutdown occurred. I was the only one forced to work at home because of allergies and a wet cough that was confirmed to be from allergies. Remember in mid March 2020 Covid testing was not really available. I worked from home for seven weeks, 10 a 12 hours per day, 6 days a week. Most business returns were still due by March 15. It was only personal returns that were extended. Tax season 2020 never ended. Tax season 2021 and business returns still due March 15 and personal returns were pushed an extra month. At the start of the filing season for 2020 returns the IRS was still processing returns from 2019, have the excuse of Covid for why they are behind, do not have to answer their phones because they are too busy, and the clients are mad at us because they don’t have their refunds, are mad at us because the Post Office hasn’t delivered their information we sent them a month ago. This has left me with no time to knit or relax. I am frustrated because I had to follow all deadlines set by Congress and was allowed no excuses for not getting my job done.

    • Janet, It sounds like your year as an essential worker was HARD. I have spent the past year+ watching the essential workers get hammered. It sounds like you had multiple layers of frustration – Covid, your business owners, your crazy hours, your clients, the support systems that weren’t supporting (post office). Hang in there. I hope something changes for the good for you.

      • I thought I would have cabin fever hit early on in the pandemic but it didn’t. I have been content staying home, knitting, weaving, reading, and walking my country one lane road. I missed fronds and family but found I was also very content in my bubble of husband , dog, cat, and horse. As I enter back into past pandemic events I am doing so cautiously and as someone who was always volunteering I am re-evaluating what activities I really want to do. I have dropped the ones that don’t bring joy and feel like a job. I too have people who I thought were friends that have said some hurtful things about continuing to wear masks while fully vaccinated. I don’t feel that we are truly out on the other side and fear a resurgence in which many could be affected. I am learning to speak my truth to those and if they can’t be supportive I will have to cut ties and find people who are like minded. Meanwhile I am content picking where I go and who I go with and when and where I wear my mask.

        • This really resonates with me! It seems odd that friends would make judgments on mask wearing, but yet some do. So in my case it’s (sadly) easier to just stay away from them.

    • I feel for you. I, too, worked tax season, but in the office. It was stressful because we had people in and out all day if only to drop off or pick up paperwork. One coworker kept ” forgetting” to wear her mask, even after customer complaints. I worked the extended season as well, which meant that most people still waited for the last minute, so our phones were jammed, our email was jammed(!), and we were working crazy hours to get everyone’s return done. I declined to work this year’s extended season because the vast majority of my clients had already been completed. I dealt with the constant stress by knitting ALOT. Needless to say, I got the vaccine as soon as I was eligible.

  • Oh, you took the words right out of my mouth (or gave my mouth words)! Yep, I’ve had a bit of yikes – here-comes-the-tsunami feeling. And trying to figure out the difference between selfish and self-care. It’s nice to know others relate. Thanks for reminding me to be mindful as I choose what to add back in.

  • This article touched a chord in me. I don’t want to get back too quickly to forced socializing and yet as a massage therapist working the past year I felt fortunate having a social life with my clients and easing their stress, anxiety and muscle aches from being at home in not ideal work/family situations. I’ve managed to create a new network of pandemic buddies and we’ve helped each other along emotionally while taking long hikes in nature. Meanwhile, I realized people who I thought were friends weren’t friends at all. For all the tragedy of the past 15 months it’s created a paradigm shift in so many areas of our lives and I think a lot of it is positive.

  • For most of my growing years and adult life I was ‘expected as the eldest child’ to keep my eye on the needs of my siblings and to be prepared to accommodate my mother’s needs. It wasn’t until my late 40s early 50s that I even understood that by nature I was an introvert!! So enter the pandemic and I’m 69 – closing my n rapidly on 70 and realize with great clarity that I AM an introvert!! After decades of childbearing and PTA and Gurl Sciut troops etc that this is where my comforts lie… in quiet contemplation and slow methodical moments of self directed activities just how introverted I truly am. Unlike so many most of my quarantine was spent helping to care for my middle daughter’s 2-3 year old done while she carried her second child and attended college courses online! We kept a tight bubble but it included several weekdays of 6am to 8pm days with this amazing little boy! We watched a lot of Nick jr tv lots of sweet children’s programming and napped together while the world outside faded into gray. He’s 3 1:2 now and his sister was born and the world is suddenly bursting into activity and I find I’m wanting to lower the lights and shield myself from what’s to come! I’m very content to remain at home knitting and having time to
    Paint now that little man spends less time with me and more at his own home with parents and sister. I miss his sweetness and awe and not seeing him as often but I find I’m trying still to keep at bay the rest of someone else’s ‘normal’ to keep from closing in on me.

    • Thank you for this discussion. Covid has led me to realize that I am more of an introvert than I ever thought I was. I have loved the lockdown. I love the time to walk in the woods, knit, weave, read – all of my favorite things – And not feel guilty about it. I was able to keep up family connections, and friend connections with zooming and FaceTime. But of course I miss all of the hugs. But here’s the problem. As my “other life, the normal life” begins to open up again, where is that fine line between “self-care “and “selfishness”? Volunteer organizations depend on us, and I have always given unselfishly of my time, with rarely a complaint. I don’t want to go back to being crazy busy as I was before, but how do I determine where the line is?

  • Oh Max! How beautifully written. You captured it. I am an introvert who presents as an extrovert to entertain the troops, keep spirits high and make sure everyone is feeling great….it can be exhausting. The pandemic gave me an excuse to to just “be”. Just BE me. As horrible a loss it was for so many I did read, and knit and master a very yummy sourdough bread and watch the birds at my feeder. It was lovely. I plan to keep it going. At 66 I think it’s time to retire from “performing “. Thank you for a beautiful article! Karen

  • Regarding the pandemic from a purely social point of view, I embraced it as a welcomed leveling of the playing field! I no longer felt I was competing with friends/family members to create the best party or event. Zoom gatherings meant I did not have to freak out about the condition & appearance of my house when I hosted! A few socially distant backyard glasses of wine with friends did not create a need for days of prep and fancy recipes. And best of all for this semi-introvert, I could stay in my pajamas all day & not fear a knock on the door from anyone from the outside world; to whom ( in pre-Covid days) I always felt a need to apologize & explain why!

  • Beautifully written, thank you! I have spent my life pretending I was neither intro or extroverted. Finally, and I think the virus experiences made it plain as plain obvious, my preference is clearly introversion as I understand my variety of it. The basic components include: being around people is usually exhausting, doing my own thing is a sweet revenge for believing all those years that I shouldn’t and the quieter it is the better it is for me…small gatherings are refreshing and I long for new relationships with more ‘heady’ types. I am not in a hurry to change my world and hope to never go back to the way it ‘was‘.

    • PS. Praise God for MDK all through this. What a wonderful gift it has been to me

  • Like a guitarist who needs to toughen the pads of their fingers to keep pressing on those strings, we introverts need to build a protective resistance to the pressures and abrasions of dealing with other people. We need a sort of emotional callus here and there to get through the hurley burley. And, like the guitarist who has quit playing for fifteen months, we have lost our calluses. Re-acquiring them is not an easy or pleasant process, but it’s worth it to get back into the concert of life. Patience and persistence will get us there. When I’m standing in the checkout line at the grocery store between the new mother with 4 screaming kids on one side, and on the other, the sullen teenager with his earbuds turned up so loud that I can hear his music from three feet away, I remind myself that this is just re-establishing my calluses.

    • Beautifully written!

    • What a wonderful word picture! Thank you for painting it!

  • How reassuring after reading your article to realize that my feelings are normal after all. Thank you for so eloquently putting it into words. Love knitting and the support this site always offers. Thank you

  • Diversity in all things. Re-enter gently, my introvert friends.

    I am an extreme extrovert and the last 15 months have been really hard for people like me. I was fortunate to be healthy, employed, and safe at home with my small family, who were also healthy and had ways to occupy themselves (Online school was hard, my kids survived). But we were all incredibly joyful to have the world open up again. My kids went back to school after 400 days and it felt absolutely amazing. Recently I have been able to go to grad parties and in-person gatherings, and I was so incredibly desperate to see people in person!

    I am deeply saddened by the large number of people in the U.S. who are refusing to get vaccinated and putting us at risk of having another pandemic with the virus constantly mutating. Actually, it is more like an incandescent rage. I realize that is harming only me but I feel it regardless.

    • Thanks for acknowledging that the pandemic is more than a chance to deal with our levels of introversion. As one of six sisters ranging from 63 to 78, most with some form of chronic illness from autoimmune to cardiovascular, my frame of mind was set on survival. My African American community was losing people steadily. My daughter taught in a high-risk neighborhood school. Not one problem from pandemic time has been resolved with the exception of vaccine availability (hallelujah!) Which has been widely ignored by whites in my red state. My introvert time and conditions were just times to worry longer and louder. Not asking for help. This is our life. Not grudging you hikes and beach time. Just pointing to the fact that pandemic didn’t mean “opportunity” for so many of us.

  • As an introvert who can “do” social when I need to, I found the pandemic lockdown satisfying and soothing. People were having to live more as I prefer–choosing most of my social interactions rather than pushed into them. Solitude only occasionally drifts over into loneliness. And with my husband working his office job from home for over a year, it was practically perfect–him in his office downstairs, me doing my usual things upstairs,

    But as the lockdown lifted, we were vaccinated, and able to venture out, we had to address some nagging symptoms he was experiencing, only to find out it is advanced cancer that got its foothold while we were going almost nowhere. I couldn’t imagine what would cause me to go into stores or other places after the pleasant avoidance of the lockdown–now I drive us everywhere, go into all kinds of stores for supplies, sit in waiting rooms, and wish we had done it all sooner. How ironic!

    The doctors believe they will cure my husband, and so I am grateful for every trek I make, every mile I drive, if that helps. And rather than be a martyr, I speak up when I’m tired or scared or missing our blissfully ignorant days of thinking getting low on toilet paper was the biggest challenge we had. And it passes. So I guess the point is I really liked the world around me being slowed to my speed, and now I’m really grateful for the ways it doesn’t so we can pursue my husband’s cure as fast as possible. Life is such an adventure, isn’t it?

    • I hope the treatments do their thing! I was thrust from my introvert haven by a cancer diagnosis for my mother. I’m happy to be helping her now, but find myself mourning the quieter days of pre-cancer lockdown.

  • I, too, feel not quite ready to enter the post-pandemic world – is there even such a thing? I do not consider myself an introvert, but I have enjoyed slowing down and enjoying life at home. I do not want to go back to what our lives were like before. To me, the past year or so has been more like life used to be in the 1960s and 1970s before we had instant communication and social media. I am having a hard time readjusting to group meet ups and “back to normal” expectations at work and home. Even my body is reacting – I am having issues with walking and hip pain. I know I am going to have to say no to my old life and that is not a bad thing. Thank you for your insight – it helps me know that I am not the only one who feels like this!!

  • Introvert here, that never got to experience the isolation that people in cities did. Never ever.
    My town/county simply did not isolate. Maybe 10% of us even wore masks. (I have never worn a mask)

    A week after church resumed last June, we got covid and my guys still went out and worked during our illness, just like everyone else who needed a paycheck and ran businesses. Covid was here but unless one was hospitalized, life went on.

    But I really wanted that isolation. Time to be alone and irresponsible and knit all day. Oh well.
    I liked the part where you said ‘pressure off.’ That’s how an introvert feels when we don’t have to join in on something due to illness or whatever.

  • Max, you are not alone. Although I qualify as an extrovert on my MBTI, this pandemic has really given me the opportunity to look at my introverted side, bd we’ve become good friends. I also do not want to lose myself to the hustle and bustle of my prior life, and hope that this horrible last several months has taught me to give myself grace in my comfort zone. I hope you find yours as well.

  • Love these thoughts. The lockdown made me realize just how introverted I really am. We went to a restaurant for the first time in ages and I had anxiety about all the people and oh-so-much-noise! If I have to reinsert myself into society, taking it slow is the only way to stay sane.

  • I’m a very cautious person. I still wear a mask, when in a group of strangers.We went to a play, our first time out in over a year. We were the only people in the audience, that wore our masks the entire play. I say better safe than sorry. This situation is still new and we don’t know everything. Last night on the news, they reported 150 vaccinated people have died from Covid.We will travel but with our masks and sanitizer.

  • I’m neither and introvert nor an extrovert. Sometimes I like being around people and sometimes not. What resonated with me was this
    “ I have so much early conditioning around putting myself last, hurrying up, staying out of the way, not being a nuisance, preparing to be disappointed, and not burdening others with my little whims and preferences. We so often needed to “get this show on the road.””

    Anyone who, as an adult, still up feels like a nuisance deserves to spend some money on therapy. It’s not okay to feel like you and your needs don’t count. Just sayin’ ❤️

  • I didn’t know what was coming when Covid hit. But as the months went by, I realized that through this horrendous pandemic, I learned some things about myself.
    I hate being hugged and no one was hugging. I walk a lot and loved walking (mask and all) in empty streets. The obligation of accepting invitations I really didn’t want to accept were gone. I used to rush from work to meetings. Then came Zoom and a few months of working from home. My life slowed down. Yes, I kept in touch with people, but only those I wanted to. And I found other joys in life.
    Now I am fully vaccinated.
    The pressures are on again. People are rushing and expecting me to want to rush too. They find it odd that I don’t want to go back to the way things were. I’m having to duck hugs again or just suffer through them. Well, guess what?
    In my little world, I am keeping the social graces of the last year-and-a-half alive. I still wear a mask when I go to stores (Delta is still out there folks, and I’m not taking any chances). I don’t want to go to social gatherings or start going to meetings in person. I don’t want to go back to driving here and there and being rushed. One by one, I am resigning from organizations that really never brought me joy. Yes, I like to travel, but give me a year or two before traveling again. And many of the people that I was meeting with to be “nice” are not going to see me again. Yes, I’m going to turn down dinners and social gatherings. It’s going to be tough because so many people around me are hugging and traveling and wanting to meet just to see people (the kidding has already started about me not liking to be hugged).
    So what? I liked the social graces of the last year-and-a-half and I’m going to keep them alive. (There, I feel better already.)

    • Yup.

  • It’s often hard for people to believe that I have a very introverted nature because I present as very extroverted. In truth, I learned how to be extroverted as a child to fit in and found that I enjoyed it. Much like I learned to knit (which is generally pretty introverted) and found that I liked it, I learned that the things in my head that made me laugh made people laugh when I said them out loud. It was pleasurable. On the other hand, I also learned how to play basketball which I hated so I don’t generally do that. I love going out and genuinely enjoy and look forward to it but I always take my own car because when I want to leave, I need to leave.

    A while back, I saw a man named Dee Hock speak at a conference and he blew my mind. Hock is a philosopher and spoke about his theory of chaordism which says that when chaos and order work together instead of against each other, the sum is greater than the parts. To prove his point, he created the credit card called Visa – you may have head of it. It was the first card to have the order of a universal payment system paired with the chaos of banks competing for you to get their Visa card. Obviously, it worked. This was a game changer for me.

    This lockdown has been both orderly and chaotic for me. I loved the quiet time at home, the movies, the knitting, the excuse to not put a bra on for days but I missed my pleasure center. Zoom was a blessing. During the worst part of it, my friend who was an essential worker would leave groceries, etc. in the back seat of my car and I would leave treats there that I had made there for him. It was like a knot in a tree, a simple space to somehow stay connected. At the same time, we all experienced the chaos of an unruly election, a deadly virus, a racial crisis, and a rise in hate crimes in addition to all the regular chaos of our lives. As we emerge, this unique time gave me the time to sit back and more fully listen and learn far more than a life outside lockdown ever could. This experience changed me in what I believe is a good way. I’m coming out of this with more compassion and gratitude and with renewed and expanded personal values.

    I did have a perfect day back in November. It was the first Saturday of the month and I had purchased a new car a few days earlier. I could now take a long drive without the worry of ending up on the side of the road or that person on the traffic report with the broken down car in the left lane. I took a two hour drive to visit a friend. We sat outside and had a little visit and some knitting. Ate lunch on the screen porch. Kept our distance. Celebrated the news of the day (there was some champagne.) Then I drove two hours home, alone in my car. I can’t speak for her, but I can say that for me it was like ctrl alt del for my soul. Alone in the car listening to Phoebe Reads a Mystery for four hours paired with socializing, laughing, and celebrating (there were three of us but three of the very best) was heaven.

    • Cyril-alt-del for my soul! That spoke volumes to me! Thank you all for an enlightening read. —a extroverted introvert that is ever so slowly venturing out, masked and vaccinated.

    • A pluperfect November day!

  • I was born in Boulder and my parents moved to Denver when I was 5. I went to school in Boulder and I loved it because the world was mine for the taking so many bright people and I thrived until my brother took his life and I couldn’t function in school. But I will always call Boulder home

  • Oh, goodness, reading this post and all these comments is balm to my soul. My husband and I are fully vaccinated, as is 90% of my office. My state has relaxed most rules due to the high vaccination rate. But until my daughter is able to be vaccinated, I will continue to mask. I often feel a bit odd to be the only one masked in situations where everyone used to be. But my team at work have been so kind about it. Everyone knows why I still mask, and they always put a mask on before coming to my office to stand in the door and ask a question. Yesterday I was holding the elevator for someone, and he said he would catch the next one because he wasn’t wearing a mask and I was. I’m so grateful for the small kindnesses people keep extending to me.

    The whole pandemic has felt, for me, like an exercise in gratitude. Grateful for my health, and my family’s. Grateful to be employed and to work for a company that has done all the right things to keep us safe. Grateful to live in a beautiful, quiet, peaceful corner of the world so I can take my dog for long walks and let my daughter play outside and feel safe.

  • I’ve worked throughout the pandemic (Occupational Therapist) and have to say I have not missed the forced social engagements. It’s been a relief to recharge in the peace and quiet of my home with feeling antisocial.
    I have missed visiting museums and seeing family. As a natural introvert I have enjoyed my own company. Long may the 2m rule reign.

  • Finnish joke heard during the pandemic: The government is asking everyone to keep 2 meters apart.
    “Why can’t we just keep the usual 4 meters apart?”
    That speaks to me (and is my heritage).Self care in spite of presence of others – I keep trying. Thanks for sharing!

  • I just want to applaud this post, as an epidemiologist who keeps my own page dedicated to science and data and guidance for communities during this, and as an avid knitter who desperately leaned on knitting to keep me going during this incredibly difficult year. We have to be kind to ourselves, to what we need, to our perceptions of risk and our tolerances, and we need to embrace the few good things that came of this painful pandemic. One of them is self-care, and for those like me who have until there was nothing left, the need for it was a huge revelation. I’m grateful for this beautiful site, for this beautiful community. Ans I credit it with keeping me going. I resigned due to political pressure to compromise the science, and I can’t tell you what you all have meant to me. Thank you. My page is “Public Health is Your Job, Too” on Facebook, and I think my ability to continue educating is significantly due to this amazing community of support

    • Many thanks and lots of fan girling for your support of science!

  • As an extreme introvert and empath I have been finding re entry very difficult. Fortunately my partner is very supportive and understands how I must retreat to my cocoon after outtings which involve other people, even the ones I love. I’m pretty sure the reason it is so hard is because I have never before had the excuse and ability to be so reclusive. Now having had that it is hard to give up.

  • I have to say this read was uplifting and affirming for me. I have had the exact same feelings. The past year and some months was tragic in the loss of life but at the same time it was so good to not only have permission but to be ordered to stay at home. What could be better for an introvert and I highly sensitive person? Now I see people gathering all over, so happy to be crushed together at concerts and on airplanes. This is tough for me wondering why I am sad that it’s all over. Of course I’m happy that people are well and the health risk is over. But now I feel guilty because I don’t want to go back to feeling like there’s something wrong with me because I enjoy staying home puttering around – knitting, reading or napping. Oh well, lesson learned, I like a quiet, peaceful life with occasional visits from my family – please don’t judge me.

  • As a fellow introvert, I went into the lockdown and felt a huge sigh of relief. Relief to be safe, but also relief to be home and by myself. For the first three months It gave me a long overdue break from so much stimulation from the world. I never got bored being at home- I did get bored with working from home and eventually missed being able to see and talk directly to people. Because I love that – I love relationships and I missed the people. I live in Michigan-so re-entry was slower and that suited me. And when I again had choices to go out abs be social- I found I was pickier and only chose to be with good good friends. Thanks for your blog, it made me think about this and be grateful

  • Thank you for expressing my own thoughts more clearly than I could have. I so love this MDK community. You’re my people.

  • Yes please! Just the words “back to normal “ make my stomach tighten with anxiety! And I’ve been working in an ER the entire pandemic. Love the term “self squishing”.

  • I enjoyed reading this. As i recently had cancef i was well ´repared for isolation, minus the fomo and the pain. Caught up on knitting and bought myself a turntable and a lot of vinyls. My locldown was comfortable and i was lucky to not have any illness in my fanily pr amongst close friends. I pity the social people who have it much harder

  • And here I thought I was the only one! LOL
    Love this whole thread. Thanks Max for re-entry tips for introverts.
    I love this little emotionally safe bubble I have built at home this year. Now I need to learn how to take it with me back into the world.

  • Thanks for this, Max. I’m just starting to process the last 15 months, which were the hardest working of my life. I’ve taken June to do as little as possible. I might do the same with July. I’m in NO rush to socialize in large groups!

  • Lovely article. As a long time Boulder resident and native introvert, my best life has been living here, specifically in Boulder. I’m from the UK and find the East Coast and London, as much I love them, especially draining. I’m glad you had an insightful visit.

  • Thank you, Max – it’s as if I wrote this myself, only you are more eloquent. I dread having to go back to the office, and it’s looming ever-nearer…I have very much enjoyed my solitude.

  • “But NO to thoughtless self-squishing simply because I’m in the presence of others.” Can we get a chorus of NO’s to self-squishing.

  • “Normal” is highly overrated! Why would we want to to return to a norm that includes careless public health practices (shaking hands & not masking up during seasonal flu season, etc.); entrenched racist and sexist cultural “norms” that negatively impact millions of people daily; & unsustainable consumption practices, including the (clearly outdated) practice of driving to an office to do work that can be done remotely?

    Recently I had several years of a chronic illness due to job burnout, & I learned a lot of things about myself & my friends. I spent a great deal of time isolated because I had no stamina to go anywhere or see anyone. Certain friendships withered, but others shone more brightly (usually because that person had a similar experience). I was just beginning to heal & work again when I got a breast cancer diagnosis, which was like the final note in the song of self-care that had begun to play more strongly for me as I recovered from burnout. Just in case I didn’t get the message to slow down, put my self-care first, & stop rushing (this alone dumps adrenaline into the body & brain, leading to more burnout). I got the message!

    So when the pandemic & lockdown hit, I lost my job, & was once again home, alone. Hmmm, so familiar! Turns out I had built solitude & slow down “muscles” during my recovery from burnout. Some folks were going stir crazy but not me– definitely an unexpected silver lining! I am an empath & consider myself fairly balanced between introvert & extrovert. I am also a career nurse and ultra-aware of how neglected our public health system is here in the USA. So to me, taking it slow & being mindful as we come together again is just common sense…which I believe Mark Twain said, ain’t so common!

  • Thank you for this. I am nearly in tears. I’ve been wondering if I’m the only one who is having trouble hopping into social settings. I love my friends, but the gatherings that are happening as our Oregon coast weather finally warms up are a bit overwhelming for me. Our house is the ideal gathering place, with a large front patio and room for everyone. Nearly every afternoon, there will be up up 9 of us settled in for happy hour, which usually goes on for several hours and sometimes spills into dinner. More and more, I find myself looking for excuses to go in the house a hide for a bit. It’s exhausting. I don’t yet know how I’m going to adjust what I do to make it better for me, but thanks to you, I can now see that I’m not alone, and my needs matter. Again, thank you.

  • I’m a little late in reading this post, but thank you. While I’m more of an ambivert….like some social connection, but also love my alone space….I’m finding a new struggle with restrictions being lifted. I now find I have to sometimes force myself to get out. I enjoy myself once I am out and about (go to gym, book club, etc)….but the struggle to leave is real. IS anyone else dealing with this?

    • Absolutely Pat! You are definitely NOT alone! During the height of pre-vaccine pandemic, I left the house once every two weeks to grocery shop. That’s IT. No haircut, no bookstore, no massage (that one was really hard), no restaurants, & only the rare outdoor walk with a friend on the same page as me in terms of precautions. So now, with much less anxiety since I am fully vaccinated, why is so hard to break this new-ish pattern of staying home?

      Because my brain has already laid down the not-so-new pattern! The hypervigilant reptilian brain/limbic system doesn’t back off easily when behaviors to diminish a threat have been established. I am a nurse, but my deeper knowledge of this part of the brain came from doing a self-directed neuroplasticity program to heal from burnout. So just take your time! The brain likes & trusts slower changes–too much too fast just produces more overwhelm. Good luck!

  • As a serious introvert, I find myself envious of all that time so many had at home. I did have more time at home (hello, knitting!) due to reduced social obligations. But I also worked (harder than i ever have) straight through the pandemic keeping our bookstore afloat and serving our community. From porch pickup and phone orders from behind locked doors for the first 8 weeks, though establishing a website for online orders, and through to being open with masks, hand sanitizer, and social distancing required. It was one of the most exhausting and stressful periods of my life even before the news and the concern for family and friends ill with COVID. I am thrilled to be vaccinated and have less stress and worry. My social calendar remains much less full than pre-pandemic days and I am expecting it will stay that way!

  • Enjoyed the read. One thing I learned from the lockdown & Covid is that there are things you can’t control. The thought of my family and friends could die from this virus made me very very anxious. Until I accepted what was happening & it will pass. And to live my life & love my family. I’m the opposite of most of the readers; I live for a real hug! And being around people and seeing a smiling face. But I am happy in my home with my husband & dogs. It’s a good thing I liked my kitchen! I did enough cooking! Except I created a monster my husband likes my cooking better than eating out. Do what makes you happy! That’s all that really matters in life. I also wanted to say I was happy modern knitting did a zoom during the pandemic it made me feel connected!

  • Gregarious introvert here (yup, it’s a thing). The twist for me was that my FIL died at the beginning of Dec. 2019–and I will say that I was deeply grateful for the break from cooking and hosting out-of-town visitors. I desperately needed the break.

  • I find myself feeling a bit ashamed by how little my lifestyle changed during the enforced social isolation, but as an introverted person who craves novelty, I now find myself eager for something different from the past 15 months: the buzz of a city, the hustle and bustle of a mall, and even the busyness of the office. I’m sure that will last for all of five minutes before I’m longing for some lovely solitude again.