I’ve been telling people the pandemic hasn’t really bothered me because I am an introvert.
Normally, I am a balanced introvert. Friends come over, we attend parties, and we take trips. And, I’ve learned when I need some alone time or have scheduled too many visits, I need to say “no.” When quarantining became our way of life, I slid into the mode easily. I set up new routines to get through the day: coffee and reading in the morning, printing or putzing around the house before lunch, walks with the dog and naps on the couch in the afternoon, wine late in the day in front of the fire, dinner by candlelight, and then my favorite shows on Netflix or Hulu at night. I’m fine, I said to my husband. But then I realized I was enjoying this way too much.
Now I’ve had both vaccines. I am starting to see opportunities for gathering. I’m making plans for travel. And I’m feeling nervous and slightly anxious about all of that.
What? Not happy? Not grateful to be able to see others? Of course, I miss my close friends and family. But I have this sense I’ll have to dig out of my safe, quiet place of solitude. I know if I don’t, I may just stay here. It’s too comfortable.
Why isn’t that ok? Experts know that being alone comes with its own problems, regardless of your age. Our children and teens and have suffered from being separated from their friends and activities, and elderly show more signs of dementia and health issues when isolated. Studies show that death comes earlier to those who don’t maintain social connections.
So I am making plans to join society. Like a bear in hibernation, I am getting ready to emerge. Bears probably have it easier because they are hungry! But I need to say “yes” on occasion, and I need to be intentional about starting to make plans with friends.
“Lockdown ending gives us a lot of options about how we want to live our lives from now on,” says Emily Hu, a licensed clinical psychologist in this article.
I’ve learned how much I like being alone during the pandemic, but I’m not going to hibernate forever. My mental health matters too much.
It’s all about boundaries.