2020: The Year of the Introvert

2020: The Year of the Introvert sounds a bit like the title of a bad sci-fi movie, but after the year this world has had, it’s fitting in more ways than one. 

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the world as we know it, and it will never be the same. Oh no, this isn’t a wild doom and gloom conspiracy, it’s actually quite the opposite. The pandemic has forced us to adapt and improve as a species. As the saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention”, so we’ve learned to do things a little (and a lot) differently and adapt to a different lifestyle. For many, this has been rough, but it’s undeniable that introverts were built for this situation we've found ourselves in. 

Thus the title, 2020: The Year of the Introvert. But before anyone gets this twisted, this doesn’t necessarily mean that this is the perfect way for human beings to exist. Research has shown that persons who are introverted or are made to act that way generally experience a decline in overall well-being when compared to extroverts. 

What does this mean for you, and other introverts? Do you think the pandemic has benefited or affected you? What will happen once this passes? Luckily, we’re possibly near the end of what hopefully isn’t a franchise, and 2021, please don’t think about becoming a sequel!

How The Coronavirus Changed The World In Favor of Introverts 

Just a quick synopsis for those who aren't able to make the link between the coronavirus and how the world changed in the favor of introverts:

The Coronavirus is a deadly airborne virus that originated in Wuhan, China. It made its way across international borders through human hosts and has to the date of this blog's publication claimed nearly two million of the world's population, having infected over eighty-five million worldwide. 

The world has adopted several measures in response to this threat, to preserve human life and slow its spread until we can figure out how to eradicate or manage it. These measures have changed the world in ways that you perhaps haven't noticed yet. But we can all agree that it has.

So, how has it been in favor of introverts? Well, besides the obvious immediate effects of the pandemic, such as the loss of loved ones, and the actual symptoms, some introverts have been given a unique opportunity to shine. Here's how:

Social Distancing 

While this may not be true for all introverts, social distancing gives many introverts that personal space that extroverts cannot seem to comprehend. Don't you just hate it when you see a friend or relative and their first instinct is to give you a tight hug? Whatever happened to smiling and waving? Are handshakes not enough?

Extroverts tend to enjoy physical touch and intimacy in their interactions, and although we love you Aunty June, the kisses are way too much! Yes, we've grown, it's what humans do until adulthood!

Social distancing has required persons to stand at least 6 feet apart to decrease the possibility of spread, but it gives us just enough room to feel comfortable in a conversation. We can breathe and interact freely, without feeling pressured, or anxious. 

Lockdowns and Curfews

Most countries have ordered nonessential services and businesses to be closed to slow the spread of the virus. Many have also established curfews to keep the majority of the population inside and restrict unnecessary interactions. 

Now, you know what it's like to be around people who never want to leave, or like being the life of the party. Your batteries have been drained, and interacting with others is becoming unpleasant or even irritating. 

Thanks to these lockdowns and curfews, you won't be forced to go out when you don't want to, and you don't have to stay longer than you want to! The government said "Be inside by 10 pm," but you've been ready to go since 8! 

Work from Home Orders

Remote work isn't new, but the coronavirus has increased its scale tremendously. Companies that didn't have remote work programs have been forced to implement them, while others have ramped it up. Unfortunately, it has caused some people to lose their jobs on a large scale, but many others have found opportunities for new employment.

For many introverts, the mere thought of being able to work in the quietness and comfort of your home every day was the dream! Now, it's a reality. No more awkward breakroom conversations, no more being forced to participate in group activities, and more importantly, more time alone! 

Gathering Restrictions 

Another measure some governments have imposed is gathering restrictions. In other words, they have placed a limit on the number of persons who are allowed to be in a space at the same time. This has affected many businesses and postponed many events. Funerals, weddings, and graduations aren't the same, as are other gatherings with friends and family.

For an introvert who prefers one to one conversations, or written communication, it doesn't get any better. Now you can call in or order online for items that didn't qualify for that before, and you can have more meaningful conversations. The best part is undeniably being able to use the pandemic as an excuse to not attend a gathering.

Advice for extroverts

The extroverts are down bad. Many of them feel like they are going crazy at home because their inherent need for outward interaction is being restricted. You may be having the time of your life right now, but your extrovert friends might need some advice on how to weather this storm, introvert-style. 

Here's what they can do to still feel in touch with the outside world:

  • Schedule video conferences with multiple friends
  • Keep up with what's happening on social media
  • Reschedule important milestones, such as weddings or anniversary parties 
  • Meet with smaller groups of friends for one on one time
  • Try having movie/series/anime watch parties 
  • Keep active
  • Engage in meaningful conversations with friends and family
  • Create a daily schedule rather than a routine
  • Practice self-care
  • Find a new hobby

But it's not okay to live like this forever 

Yes, this may feel completely fine, but human beings are inherently social. In other words, we're wired to depend on each other in some way or another. At some point, we will need to regain the intimacy that goes to the core of our relationships.

Some introverts have even expressed an increase in feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety as a result of the lockdown. While you may be enjoying the freedom aspect, the psychological aspect tends to creep up and may even affect the sudden boost in creativity you have been experiencing. 

At a time like this where mental well-being is jeopardized, it is important to be in touch with others. No, this doesn't mean you have to be there in person and force yourself to be different. It simply means that you can be alone, but do it together, just so your thoughts don't spiral out of control in the silence.

While we are still unsure what the future holds, it's in our best interest to adapt and overcome the hurdles this pandemic will throw at us. Look out for each other, especially those who are struggling, and don't be afraid to talk to someone if you need help. We'll get through this!

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