If you didn’t know for sure if you were an introvert or an extrovert before this pandemic, you probably do by now. Being told by the experts that everyone should stay at home either brought you joy or despair. You either grieved social isolation or you embraced it.
Our behaviors during this pandemic are probably good indicators of our personality traits. During this time of social distancing, if you were excited about garbage day and spent time picking out the outfit you would wear when you took the garbage out, you are probably an extrovert. If you saw the UPS truck drive into your driveway and you started to cry with joy at the site of another human being and the beauty of brown uniforms, you are probably an extrovert. If there are handprints and oil marks from your forehead on the windows facing the street or the county road, you are probably an extrovert.
Conversely, if you hadn’t turned on the television to watch the news you wouldn’t have known anything was going on, you are probably an introvert.
I am an introvert. Introverts are designed for enduring the social isolation of a pandemic, apparently. We always buy our toilet paper in bulk, even in normal times, because we don’t like to go out to shop any more than is necessary. We usually have stashes of chocolate to get ourselves through weeks of self-isolation. When we see the UPS man come into the driveway, we hope that he just leaves the box and doesn’t need a signature.
There are real differences in the approach to life between an introvert and an extrovert. If you go for a walk, not for the exercise but in the hopes that someone else is going for a walk, you are probably an extrovert. If you go for a walk only because you need the exercise and you try to do it in the dark to avoid being seen, you are an introvert. If you take the menus you have “borrowed” from restaurants and lovingly explore the nubs of food stuck to them as you relive memories of better times, you are probably an extrovert. If you are able to make 15 different meals out of a can of tomato soup so you don’t have to go out for food, you are probably an introvert.
If you have opened the refrigerator 10 times an hour looking for something to eat because you are so stressed, you are probably an extrovert. If you have opened the refrigerator 10 times an hour because you usually do that, you could be an introvert.
It’s not that introverts are necessarily selfish. We care about others and will bring a hot meal to a shut in. Of course, we will leave it at the door and in a non-returnable dish so interaction is limited. Extroverts on the other hand, will bring the meal in, sit down and dine with the shut in, make plans to pick up the dish and then go home to plan their “feed the world” fundraiser extravaganza.
Introverts and extroverts don’t understand each other very well. We each think that everyone should or does feel the way we do. What makes us interact with the world the way we do? Maybe it can’t be helped. Maybe we are formed by the experiences in our lives. Who knows? Introverts aren’t going to ask anybody about it.
I have two extroverted sisters. They are like bright, soaring comets. Thankfully they pulled me along and made me get out of my comfort zone on occasion during the non-pandemic times. Now it is my time to help them with the isolation skills I have perfected over the years. I’m going to call them up and offer to meet them to handoff a roll of toilet tissue and a list of things to do when you have to stay at home. I will assure them that they will have parties to go to again. I will tell them that they will be able to hug people again and talk closely and with exuberance.
When that happens, they can tell me all about it as I, once again, naturally shelter in place.