When quarantine started last spring, I got several messages from introverts saying things like, “I feel freer than I ever have before.” While none of us would choose for Covid-19 to happen, the reaction from many introverts seemed to be a quiet sigh of relief.
So it made sense when Susan, a fellow introvert, recently asked me, “How do we deal with the difficulty of going back out into the world after quarantine?”
Of course, some of us had a very different experience because all of our people were suddenly in our house all the time. Or we had an essential job which meant we needed to keep showing up for work (thank you!). I don’t want to overlook those situations, but I do want to talk about how introverts can handle the transition back to “normal life” (whatever that means).
Here are three questions we can ask ourselves…
1. What’s weighing me down?
We, as humanity, were suddenly forced to set many things down. Social commitments. Work obligations. Events on our calendars. Roles and routines. We may have carried all of these for years without even noticing the weight. As we pick things back up we can notice what feels heavy. Of course, some things in life are simply ours to carry. But if something is heavy and optional, then this may be an opportunity to let it go.
2. What do I not want to give up?
I’ve heard introverts express delight in going on more walks, watching the birds from their back porch, making time to paint, reading bedtime stories to their children. As we transition, we can make a list of what we don’t want to surrender. It’s okay to fight for what’s life-giving.
3. What have I learned about myself?
Some of us have discovered we’re actually more productive working at home. Others have found we need the energy and accountability of an in-person team. Maybe we’ve had aha moments about our relationships, sleep, church, or parenting. We can think through what it means to move forward based on what we now know—one hard conversation or small step at a time.
The introverts I know and love are smart, brave, and resourceful. It’s not that we don’t know what we need, it’s that we often don’t give ourselves permission to pursue it. We tell ourselves what we should feel/do/be based on the extrovert culture around us. Instead let’s dare to honor what we know to be true for us deep down.
One of my favorite quotes is from author Jill Churchill, who said, “There’s no way to be a perfect mother but a million ways to be a good one.” There’s also no perfect way to transition out of quarantine, but 7 billion (the number of people alive right now) ways to do it well—starting with yours.
Cheering You On,