According to Psychology Today, the personality type of an introvert is characterised by a preference for solitary and inner life experiences. This choice doesn’t come from the fact that an introverted person dislikes or has an aversion towards other people, on the contrary, an introvert enjoys deep and intimate exchanges with others in rather calm settings. An introvert chooses this approach to life since they feel the need to regain energy and mental focus by staying on their own and focusing on things which ground them, following intense stimulation through interactions with others which may require the individual to make more effort than usual.
During the COVID-19 phase and the changes in societal interactions that this brought about, it might seem that introverts may have favoured this lack of contact with others and the reduction in social gatherings. However, this may not necessarily be the case for everyone. On one hand it may be true that introverted individuals may seek out times when they are alone and engaging in activities that may provide ‘down-time’ in order for them to feel re-energised. These activities may involve reading a book, gardening, watching a series or movies, working on their own and in a setting with less distractions and interruptions. However, it may also mean that they are cut off from the people with whom they feel close to and with whom they connect easily on an intimate level. Thus, it may be that social isolation worked out better for some more than others and transitioning from something that you have managed to work out and adapt to, to something that is different requires work for everyone.
What does this mean?
It means that people need to be more aware of what has worked out for them in the past and identifying the things which did not help them. We all had to make changes in order to adapt and make this period work for us. If as an introvert you know that re-engaging in social interactions whilst at the same time returning to work (with a possibility of returning to other activities which you used to be involved in prior to this social isolation) may be taxing for you, try to take it slowly and return to one thing at a time. If you have the possibility of working on a flexible schedule by going in only a number of days a week for example. Or staggering meetings and encounters with people. Try not to overwhelm yourself and plan your time in a way that you have some time for yourself in order to feel more balanced.
If you feel drained and exhausted by your social commitments and are especially anxious about the frenzy of the summer period. Try to meet with only a couple of friends at a time and make a list of priorities. It is important to be open with your friends about how comfortable you are feeling and that you may want to take things slower. Adding pressure to oneself because of extrenal and internal expectations may be detrimental because it may lead you to take on more than you feel comfortable with handling.
What should I do?
I believe that whatever decision an individual makes in life, it is importnat to understand why that choice is being made. Making sense of your motives and understanding how they work out for you (or are not working out for you) is important in order to be able to recognise what you want to be doing differently and how you can achieve this. Returning to normal life doesn’t imply that things will be exactly the way that they used to be but that we take the lessons / insights gained during this period and apply them to this new reality.
Abigail Church is a Humanistic Integrative Counsellor who works with adults and children through counselling with Willingness. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 79291817.