As a lifelong introvert, I have to admit that this pandemic has not been as difficult for me as it seems to be for many of the more extroverted people in my life. There are good days and bad ones, just like everyone else, but in general, keeping myself quarantined at home has been a dream come true.
Truly, nothing thrills me more than being able to say no to seeing people (or not even being asked in the first place!) and have a totally unquestionable excuse: “There’s a global pandemic!”
Of course, I’ll be happy when the danger has passed, but I have to be honest. There are a few things about this pandemic that I absolutely wish we could enfold into our culture as a new and improved “normal.”
I’ll be happy when the danger has passed, but there are a few things that I absolutely wish we could enfold into our culture as a new and improved “normal.”
Here are three pandemic life changes that, as an introvert, I want to make permanent.
1. Normalizing Mask Wearing
I know that masking is still a hotly debated issue, and I’m not saying that it should be mandatory forever! That would be way too much to ask of anyone. What I DO wish is that we could normalize masking for people who want to do it. Other countries (like Japan and South Korea) do this, and it’s viewed as a courtesy.
Aside from COVID-19, there are so many reasons a person could choose to wear a face mask. Maybe the air quality is bad that day. Maybe they feel under the weather but have to leave the house. Maybe they are immunocompromised and want to protect themselves. Or, like me, maybe they just appreciate not having to force a smile or small talk every time they accidentally make eye contact with a stranger.
Masking is usually not inconvenient for me (unless I forget to grab it and have to walk back to my car!). Honestly, as unpopular as this opinion may be, I love it, and I plan to keep doing it. It prevents random strangers from approaching me, and it politely signals to everyone in the store that I would like for them to keep their distance. That’s always true for me, pandemic or not, it just isn’t socially acceptable for me to say so. I mean really, I can’t be the only one who doesn’t want some random person breathing on me, right?
2. Working From Home
Again, I know that some people will likely be singing hymns of praise when they can safely go back to their office jobs, and I respect that.
As an introvert, I am thrilled for all of my also introverted friends who are now getting to experience the joys of working from home. I’m fortunate in that regard (my job has always been a WFH situation), but seeing how much less stressed my friends are brings me a lot of joy.
I think that companies would do well to examine their pandemic WFH practices to see if any of them could be incorporated into a long-term business strategy that benefits workers as well as the company’s overall bottom line. For example, my mom works for the reservations department of an airline. The company gave her department a choice to take a slight pay cut and work from home or come into the office for normal hours and pay. Once she factored in the time costs of getting ready and commuting both ways, it was a no-brainer: WFH was way better. Honestly, she gets more work done with less energy drain, and she’d probably be happy to never set foot in that office again.
I know of several other people who have similar stories, too, which is why I think that there should be more flexibility in how people are permitted to work. I know that we’ll never get rid of in-person meetings entirely (ugh), but surely the companies that give more consideration to their employees would see a huge uptick in happiness and productivity, right?
Surely the companies that give more consideration to their employees would see a huge uptick in happiness and productivity, right?
So, there you go, corporations. You can have my brilliant idea for free. You’re welcome.
3. Taking the Pressure Out of Socializing
So far, I might sound like I’m a half-step away from being a bog witch who curses any human who crosses her path. I promise I’m not! I do enjoy seeing people that I care about, and I even enjoy just getting lost in a crowd for a little while.
But seriously. Remember how I said earlier that I was grateful to have an evergreen, unquestionable excuse for not making plans? While I’m working on being okay with setting boundaries for myself and holding onto them, I have to admit that the pandemic excuse takes so much pressure off of me.
Not only do I not have to feel guilty for avoiding plans that I know will be exhausting, but I actually have more options for connecting with people I care about now. We’re all learning the joys of FaceTime, Zoom hangouts, online gaming, and group Netflix dates, and frankly, I’m happier than ever.
Do I miss hugging my friends? Absolutely! Is it hard to go months without seeing my toddler niece? Definitely. But overall, I feel like this pandemic has been a blessing to introverts because it allows us to socialize in ways that suit us particularly well, and it has taken away most of the pressure to “go out and have fun!”
In the future, I know I will let my friends drag me out to bars and parties, and I’ll grumble good-naturedly about how it’s past my bedtime. But I hope that when life goes back to normal, we can keep these low-pressure socializing options in our everyday rotation as well.
Let’s Keep the Pandemic Life Changes That Help Us Thrive
Life is all about give and take. For the most part, American society is structured around extroverts, and this means that introverts often struggle to thrive. While I certainly wouldn’t have wished for a global pandemic, I do think that these months of quarantine have taught us all some valuable lessons. I also think that not all of the pandemic life changes that we have been forced to make are bad. In fact, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a new normal that gives introverts a little more breathing room in our busy, extroverted society.
Are there any pandemic life changes you want to keep in your everyday?