When this madness all started, I saw the above quote and, given that I am a self-declared militant introvert, it made me smile. I’ve seen similar quotes about social distancing.
First of all, let’s be clear. Introversion is not being antisocial. It has to do with energy. I deal with people every day. While that is often rewarding, it can also be exhausting. My wife on the other hand is a dedicated extrovert and so is energized by social contact.
There is no doubt that these days are much harder on extroverts. The need for contact and interaction is not readily met and so extroverts are vulnerable to depression and frustration. Many are being creative in how they maintain contact with others. This may be something good that comes from all this — that technology and creativity can enrich the ways we can connect with one another.
But what of we introverts? Are we secretly cheering when the requirements of quarentine and social distancing are extended into the summer? In my own case, no I don’t cheer. While I am not outgoing, I miss the cancelled opportunities to connect with family and lunch with a handful of friends.
So what can I as an introvert learn from all this? I am reminded first of all that I am not anti-social, that I value human contact. I can challenge myself to do more of what comes easily to an extrovert — reaching out and connecting or re-connecting.
I can be more sensitive to the needs of the extroverts in my life and can take the time to listen and to share. I can challenge myself to take the time to thank the grocery clerk or the mailman or the many other service providers.
I can also draw on my introversion to reflect on some important themes. These days I have become aware of much that I have taken for granted including those who provide me with a service. I miss baseball. I miss bookstores. I am more appreciative of food stuffs (especially eggs!) I like to think that perhaps I will be able to carry that awareness forward.
Spiritually I am challenged to reflect on Fear. As I judge the man leaving the grocery store with four bags of flour, I need to remember that I too panicked when the store was out of eggs. I too can get caught up in catastrophizing and borrowing trouble from tomorrow. I am challenged to live what I claim to believe, especially the Serenity Prayer. Ultimately I need to recall that, if he were alive, Viktor Frankly would be challenging us to find personal meaning in the COVID-19 crisis. He would remind us that we always have a choice as to how we face things that life throws at us. Thus, I can productively ask myself “How do I want to face this crisis?”
REFLECTION: How do you want to face this crisis?