My Introverted Self is Way Too Happy to be Alone

Photo by Jeswin Thomas from Pexels

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.

Figuring it all out

I haven’t.

Oh, I keep thinking I have everything under control. But then I get that rapid heart beat, the stomach rolling, and I recognize it. I am anxious again.

Once you’ve experienced it, you will know immediately.

So what to do? Well, I know I’ve taken on some extra volunteering lately. I’m on the Board of NICA, (Nopes Island Conservation Association) and on the marketing committee of Mental Health America of Fredericksburg. Both are important organizations that do so much good. I’m helping with social media and writing newsletters among other things.

I had also volunteered to print some wedding invitations for a sweet friend, and since that’s normally out of my lane, I let the whole process drive me crazy. Mistake after mistake and –rushing! When I get anxious, my thoughts start swirling and whirling, and the next thing I know, my actions follow my thoughts. I’ve been going too fast.

So, big breath today. Slow down. Stop overthinking. I need to remember the patterns I fall into, and then also remember- I can stop.

“Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important.”
—Natalie Goldberg

Forcing the Issue

I have to say– I really don’t like Valentine’s Day. It seems artificial. Forced. Stiff.

So why do I print cards for the occasion? I’m not sure. Maybe because it’s expected. But I have realized I don’t need to. I don’t want to. I am really trying to shift my priorities and lower my stress. (I know– how can a retired person have stress?)

So once I close my Etsy shop again, I am going to clean out all the cards I no longer want to print… and relax.