During the current quarantine, I’ve seen a number of humorous posts contrasting the attitudes of introverts and extroverts towards the stay-at-home order. The extrovert is depicted as sad and downcast, itching to get outside, while the introvert is perfectly happy to remain in the house.
Sometimes, introverts are perceived as the shy, antisocial person who hides in the secluded corner at a party, while extroverts are the center of attention, easily flitting between conversations, laughter trailing in their wake. However, the definitions of “introvert” and “extrovert” are a lot more complicated and varied than that. Extroverts can be shy and introverts can be social. It’s not a narrow, confining box to fit within; it’s a descriptor that helps people understand themselves better. At its core, this is what defines introversion and extroversion: Extroverts gain energy from being around people, while introverts gain energy from being by themselves for a while.
As an introvert, my feelings about quarantine transitioned from it being an extremely rejuvenating experience to me wanting to kick down the door and run outside. When the first stay at home at order was announced in March, I smiled. At that time in my life, quarantine was the best thing that could have happened to me. I don’t mean to say that I’m happy that there was a global pandemic, but the side effects of the COVID-19 crisis happened to be very beneficial for my health.
From January to March, I was plagued by an all-permeating exhaustion that I could neither explain nor get rid of. Every day, I tried to draw on energy that I didn’t possess, accruing a vast debt that shadowed my every footstep. In hindsight, I think it was caused by the busyness of school and dance. I was trying to do too much at one time, and my body and mind were protesting. I had to summon what felt like a superhuman amount of effort to get through a single conversation. It wasn’t that I didn’t like people or enjoy their company, on the contrary, actually, but I was pouring so much energy into my work that I didn’t have any left to dedicate to human interaction. But during the stay at home order, I was forced to slow down, take the time to get to know myself, and recuperate. I was able to get deep, fulfilling rest that I desperately needed.
From March to June, I was wholly content. I read plenty of books, baked, journaled, went to the beach, and spent more time with my family. It was a time of healing for me, as if the walls of my house were barricades that defended against an assault of pressure and stress. I needed a break from constant social interaction, and I was able to find more peace when I wasn’t surrounded by as many people. My relationship with God also grew, as He opened my eyes to see all the ways He’d been working in my life and how He’d blessed me. I prayed for the world, for safety, and I thanked God for giving me this time at home.
However, in July and August, I began to achingly miss “normal life.” I wanted to hang out with my friends or go to the mall. When reopenings were beginning, I got to see my cousins and some of my friends, and I was almost surprised at how good it felt to be around other people again. I was joyful and satisfied in a wonderful, new way, which prompted me to think about the value of relationships.
I believe that rest is important and sometimes time away is needed, but ultimately, human company is integral to our mental, emotional, and spiritual health. The desire to have other people to talk to, laugh with, and confide in is one to be embraced, not shunned. Those around us help us grow as we help them grow. We shouldn’t try to go through life by ourselves. We have to pursue that connection, especially in quarantine, in whatever way we can right now.
For both introverts and extroverts, this quarantine has underscored the importance of human connection and relationships. People weren’t made to be alone, but were created by God to fellowship with one another. As the book of Hebrews says, “let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” In a time where we’re separated from family and friends, we should develop a new conviction to be intentional and committed in our interactions with those around us.
That might look like having dinner with your family every night, or playing a board game with them instead of retreating into your room and scrolling through social media. You can video chat or text with friends if you haven’t heard from them in a while, or send extended family updates on your quarantine life and ask them how they’re coping. Technology is truly a blessing for us right now, because it makes it incredibly easy to communicate instantly with others. Don’t take that for granted, but use it to maintain relationships with people you can’t meet with face to face. Introverts, extroverts, and humanity as a whole are all fighting on through this challenging time, and with each other’s patient and steadfast support, we can get through this pandemic.